How to pick the right UI design tools for the job

UI design tools

There are plenty of powerful UI design tools out there now, and many of them have probably made it to several designers’ wish lists. With so many viable options to choose from in 2019, it can be tough to figure out which ones are right for you. Depending on the type of projects you work on, the choice could be either straightforward or very complex.

To stay competitive, UI design tools need to be masters of a few key features, such as screen design, prototyping, handoff, and collaboration. As a result, we have ourselves an array of well-made tools to consider, and the fact that their stated USPs are not always unique makes it difficult to pronounce a winner.

To help you zip through the process of elimination, we’ve put together a list of priorities that could be important to your organization. Assessing which ones are most relevant to you could help you reach a decision with ease.

1. Cost-effectiveness

Let’s start with the most obvious one. How big a budget you have will determine how high this is on your priority list. Origami Studio is free, and Axure RP ranges from $29 – $99 per month, depending on the type of user. There are some tools that will slap you with a hefty one-time fee, and others that give you a few free projects or are free for a certain number of users. The options available to you will depend on how much you are willing to stretch your budget.

2. Compatibility with your existing operating systems

If the tool fits, is it enough of a reason to use it? For many designers, it’s a simple “yes”. Others are willing to switch systems to access certain tools that could improve the quality of their output. InVision Studio works exclusively on MacOS, while Figma is more inclusive and works on MacOS, Windows, and Linux. Your existing setup, as well as the flexibility you have to move between systems, will be factors in choosing a UI tool.

3. Your support needs

How much support are you looking for after installation? Find out what kind of support system the tool offers and see if it meets your needs. Some tools also have their own communities, where you can connect with like-minded designers to trade experiences and tips. This kind of exchange helps our designers get better at what they do, and it could do the same for you, enabling you to achieve your goals faster.

4. Your collaboration requirements

UI tools need to facilitate feedback and workflow tracking. The scale of this will vary, depending on how large your team is. Even where there won’t be much collaboration on the design, file-sharing will still be important.

5. Upgrades and continuous improvement

Is it a “what you see is what you get” situation, or is it more along the lines of “the best is yet to come”? If the latter is what you’re looking for, find out if the company offering the tool has upgrades planned, and if they’re proponents of continuous improvement.

While many of the tools available today can help you achieve your design goals, look deeper into how they will actually work with your current setup before you choose one. We recommend taking this list of priorities and reordering it to suit your specific needs. It’ll help you pinpoint what you’re really looking for, and settle on a UI design tool that will serve you best.

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