8 Ultimate Prototyping Tools for Web Developers
When it comes to web development, there are a lot of applications and tools that programmers use so that their job can be accomplished in the easiest and the most efficient way possible. There are tools that will help you build better websites, help boost your productivity while learning to code, or all around tools that will help you to become a better software developer.
Prototyping tools are also great applications that will give you many advantages as a web developer. Some of them are free to use, some are ideal for beginners, while all of them can be used for professional work. Each tool has a unique set of features and settings, so all you need to do is to try them out.
What is prototyping?
Simply put, web developers need to build a "sample" so they have a better perception of what the final product will be like — and prototyping tools are used to give a detailed depiction of the design in question. Another use of prototypes is to use a fragment (an unfinished program or project) of the project and use it as if it was finished. This is mostly done in business presentations and early meta stage of the project.
What are the stages of building a prototype?
It’s hard to say that there’s a rule in creating a prototype. There are a lot of different programs which are used by people with different sets of skills for various projects. While there is no exact set of rules to it, we can provide you with a few common combinations of “prototype stage construction”:
1. The Basic Level
If you’re new but have the basic skill level and experience, you might want to go with this method. It’s very simple, has a few steps, and require only the basic programs. The stages are as following:
- Create a Sketch: Unnecessary details should be avoided at this stage. You can even use the program as simple as “paint” to outline your design ideas effectively. Focus on the functions and most important features. The worst thing that could happen is that the idea you had expires.
- Add simple functions: Don’t overdo it — use only the functions which can be continued and bonded with other elements. The reason why you should do so is because you’re still at the beginning. Everything will fall in place in time, don’t rush it.
- Use prototyping tools to add more detail and correct the ones you don’t like: Simply put, fill the gaps. The prototype should function as a model for you. Add as many details as you want as long as it does not affect the main function.
- Encrypt the basic functions at your level: Since this method is one of the easiest, you should do your best to program the basic functions according to your skill level.
2. Intermediate level
It’s not entirely different from the basic level, it only allows you to implement the higher level of skill. The entire composition of steps is the same, but the outcome will be different if you know how to code and encrypt.
3. Expert Level
If you’re seriously into programming and web development, you should try this out. It implements the use of various programs that require a certain degree of skill. Not recommended for people who’re new to the entire concept of programming. Going by the presumption that you already know the programmer’s language and jargon, we won’t explain each step in detail.
Make the user interface — this will be of tremendous help later on:
- Build the virtual prototype
- Add I/O to the prototype
- Engineer the algorithms
- Test the prototype
- Review each step for possible errors
Once you’ve selected the method of prototype construction you’re going to apply, you should decide on the tools. We’ve provided a list of top eight tools with a brief description which will help you to make a perfect prototype.
This is a really powerful tool that is very easy to use. Power Mockup is a form of an add-on which integrates your library pane with your PowerPoint window which gives you easy access and review of the wireframe and shapes.
It’s not a standalone program, and it’s ideal for beginners and professionals alike. It’s most notable features and settings are the integrated library pane, Drag and Drop, Custom shapes (Power Mockup Shapes), standard shapes, and Smart shapes.
Another prototyping tool that’s perfect for beginners, Proto.io does not require any coding for your prototype to work. Being extremely easy to use does not affect the outcome of your prototype — it has all the features you would need as a web developer, such as screens, layers, containers, libraries, assist, and much more.
It works in a similar way as the Power Mockup, but it’s not an add-on (it’s a legit standalone program). By dragging and dropping the desired content on the prototyping pane, you can further customize and shape your prototype as you see fit.
One of the most versatile programs, Webflow is a prototyping tool, a web design program, CMS, and a hosting platform. The only downfall is that it requires a certain degree of skill and coding, but it’s equipped with a more powerful system that’s capable of better results.
Framer is a programming and prototyping tool that offers quite a lot. It has the auto-code feature that makes it very easy to use (also more suitable for beginners and intermediate programmers). Its connectivity reaches most internet applications, but keep in mind that if the concept of programming is entirely new to you, you won’t find much use of this program.
This is a tool for programming, prototyping, and wireframing. It’s perfect for beginners because it’s extremely easy to use. It was specifically designed with the lowest learning curve, but even if you don’t understand it at first, there are tutorials and live webinars which explain the concept in detail.
Not for amateurs, but still quite easy to use, Pidoco offers easy sketching, custom templates, interactive elements, and is usable by a team. It’s comprised of standardized features, so you can get started the moment you install it.
An absolute must, even if you are experienced programmer. Vectr is a free graphics editor that can be used online (if not previously downloaded), and it comes supplied with the basic functions and settings which are depicted and explained. It’s most notable features are background templates, borders and shading, opacity slider, and much more.
Another free prototype tool, InVision is an extremely powerful program. It can get you high-fidelity under five minutes, it’s quite easy to use (but not so good for beginners as Vectr, for example), and it’s capable of delivering highly interactive prototypes.
These are but a few helpful tools you can add to your web development arsenal. If you have other recommended tools to use, share it with everyone in the comments section below!
Eliza Rafle is an artist and a graphic designer who is currently in content-creation about how design and creativity have been helped by dynamically changing technology.