Rapid prototyping is a critical part of any software development initiative. It is during this stage that project stakeholders get a better idea of the features and capabilities a product will have, and just what it will offer users. However, this important step cannot be carried out effectively without the right tools.

Therefore, it is essential that UX designers and the development team have a fully stocked toolbox at their disposal. In today’s market, there are a number of options for rapid prototyping platforms, some of which provide different capabilities than others. Let’s take a look at some of the top rapid prototyping tools available and how each can benefit this important process:

UXPin: The first in the lineup is UXPin, a platform that enables teams to fully manage the entirety of the UX design process. This tool provides wireframing capabilities to quickly outline the product’s user interface through a drag-and-drop style. It can also enable mockups of the UI design through the platform itself, or by importing layers from Sketch and Photoshop. Best of all, both wireframes and mockups can be brought to the interactive level, illustrating just how they will react under actual user conditions.

UXPin is also advantageous when it comes time for testing. The tool allows teams to establish testing tasks, host a session and record actual user experiences. These video clips can provide invaluable feedback and insights for project stakeholders.

Pixate: Next on our list is Pixate, a platform that offers prototyping for native iOS and Android products. The designers of Pixate noted that one of its main benefits is the tool’s simplicity – complicated frameworks and animation features only serve to make a project more complex. Therefore, Pixate seeks to keep things simple with streamlined capabilities for product mockups.

This tool also features a drag-and-drop design style, where users can choose from a range of capabilities (including pinch, rotate, long press, scale or fade) to adjust the selected layers.

Overall, Pixate is a capable tool that was built especially for use in teams, ensuring that every member is on the same page throughout the prototyping process.

Invision: Next, we have Invision, one of the most popular prototyping tools in the development community today. Teams can simply upload their pre-created designs and enable clickability and interactivity, allowing for gestures, transitions and animations.

This tool even has special features to ensure the team’s collaboration, including real-time presentation via its LiveShare whiteboarding feature.

Team members can also share their feedback directly through the platform, streamlining overall communication and keeping notes in one place.

Invision is able to integrate with Dropbox, ensuring that the most up-to-date version of the prototype is always accessible and each change is tracked throughout the process.

Axure: Another powerful tool is Axure, which recently released its newest version, Axure RP. This platform offers a range of capabilities for wireframing and documentation to support designers and stakeholders during the initiative.

Wireframes can be quickly established to illustrate specific text, shapes, colors, fills and other content. Designers can also create more simplified click-through mockups or more robust, functional prototypes, depending upon their requirements.

The platform can also enable easy sharing of prototypes by creating an HTML and JavaScript example that is viewable across nearly any major Web browser.

The Axure PRO version also offers specialized features for documentation and collaboration, including the ability to establish customized Word templates, and remote access to each version of a prototype.

Macaw: Macaw is another industry-leading tool, trusted by a number of large brands for their prototyping needs. This platform offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing teams to write HTML and CSS code. Mike Finch, Facebook’s product designer, called the code created in Macaw “amazing and beautiful.”

This robust, responsive tool ​enables teams to establish specific breakpoints and optimizations for sites across all devices. Designers can create dynamic layouts with static, absolute and fixed positioning, and can apply a particular style to a number of different elements at once.

Stakeholders can also remotely preview the prototypes, or share individual assets between pages, saving them in a single document.

Macaw comes with a number of capabilities never seen before in a prototyping tool, leading Paul Boag, host of the popular podcast Boagworld, to dub the platform “the beginning of the end of coding.”

Sketch: Finally, we’ll end with a classic: Sketch. This platform is able to integrate with a number of other tools to create a unified, overall look at a product during the prototyping stage.

Design expert Jon Hicks noted that “Sketch continues to grow and mature fast,” and that the platform “puts larger competitors to shame.” Sketch comes with a number of essential features built in, including tools for native code, exporting, precision and inspecting.

One of its most touted benefits is its object layers capabilities, ensuring that each shape is its own item in the layers list, preventing the use of complex, hidden paths. In addition, its Inspector tool allows designers to utilize a single platform to manage every aspect for each object, a level of granular control not seen with other tools.

Furthermore, it’s iOS Mirror feature makes previewing designs on iOS devices simple.

Prototyping can be a difficult process, but is one of the most important steps during product development. During this time, the right tools can make all the difference.

Find out more about prototyping and design, contact Making Sense today.