A quick look at what prototyping tools are for.


At the time of writing there are over 10 prototyping tools – some recent ones include Principle App, Flinto, UX Pin, Invision, Proto.io, Paper Prototypes, Axure, Marvel, Pixate, Just In Mind, Framer.js, Keynote and Origami. As always with tools, I think it's important to take a step back every once and a while and understand why we may be using them.

The Spectrum: What are prototypes for?

Design tends to not have absolutes. Picking the right tool for the job doesn't deviate far from this. It's a spectrum – designers should weigh a good prototyping tool's benefits and detriments based off context, like your team and various other constraints.

Line of sight to solutions

Prototypes (and the process of building them) helps us identify and solve problems – they give us visibility around how things might look and feel. They can illuminate gaps in complex flows, development/system requirements, live data and interactivity.

Communication of intention

Prototypes help us communicate our vision to teammates, stakeholders, clients, and executives and get them on board. High fidelity prototypes can let people glimpse at what the product gestalt might feel like, while low fidelity prototypes can help communicate complex information architecture and relationships.

Assessment of assumptions

Prototypes allow us to test/validate our hypothesises with real users (actual humans, people!) and refocus our energy on what's important. They let us evaluate our design against and keep us true to the problems we're trying to solve.

We're at a point in time where we're fortunate enough to be able to pick and choose our tools. Lets just remember how to pick them.