Nowadays, millions of people rely on their laptops, desktops, and mobile devices to access the internet for all kinds of purposes.
Whether it’s purchasing a new product, using a service, or testing meltdown and spectre, among other security purposes, the user interface must provide users with a positive and stress-free experience that lets them carry out their intended task.
That’s why understanding UI and the best UI tools is crucial for keeping users satisfied and maintaining a good reputation.
As a designer, you must put yourself in the shoes of a user when building your user interface. Quite simply, a poorly designed user interface will frustrate customers and minimize your chances of landing a sale or lead.
Thankfully, there are plenty of UI design tools on the market to help with your user interface. But before we get into the best UI tools, let’s take a minute to better understand UI and how the tools work.
What is UI, and how do UI tools work?
User interface (UI) design refers to the connection between the design elements of a website, app, online store, software tool, etc., and the resulting experience for the user. The user interface contains all the design elements that let users navigate the page and perform actions.
Providing a solid user interface requires the marrying of good styling and intuitive interactivity. In other words, a good user interface should look good and feel good to use.
In general, there are three different formats for UI:
- Graphical interface (GUI ) - where the user interacts with the visual design elements, for example, the home screen of your phone, desktop, or website.
- Voice-controlled interface (VUI) - where the user interacts with sound elements as with virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa.
- Gesture-based interfaces - a more recent and innovative UI element where users use gestures to navigate and perform actions, for example, virtual reality platforms and games.
In short, anything, whether it be an app, a game, a website, etc., has a user interface if it allows a user to interact with design elements to achieve a purpose.
The elements of UI design include:
- Input controls - dropdown lists, buttons, text fields, date fields, checkboxes, etc.
- Navigational components - slider, search field, page numbers, tags, breadcrumbs, etc.
- Informational components - pop-up tooltips, progress indicators, notifications, icons, message boxes, etc.
- Containers - accordion/hamburger menu.
Now, you know some of the elements of UI design, but how do UI tools work?
UI design tools give designers a platform to design accurate high-fidelity wireframes, design mockups, and prototypes. They also create minimally viable products (MVPs). Essentially, UI design tools provide the foundations of a design, with the end result being to provide functionality for the user.
The popularity of UI design tools shows no code is the future. Most UI design tools are now available over the cloud and come with features like AI-powered machine learning and improved graphical capabilities.
Let’s explore the six best UI design tools currently available.
1. InVision Studio
InVision Studio claims to be “the world’s most powerful screen design tool.”
InVision Studio is a web-based tool that enables rapid prototyping and offers advanced animation features to unlock new screen design potential.
From the Studio launcher, simply begin a new project, edit an existing project, or open a static design file and turn it into an interactive prototype. The array of tools lets you craft amazing interactive designs with ease. It’s why companies like Airbnb use it.
Collaboration is easy. Simply share your prototype in Studio for others to leave feedback comments. And when it’s time to begin building, Inspect lets developers view specs, pull up assets, and even code directly from the prototype you’ve made. This is all made possible with InVision Studio.
The latest InVision Version 7 comes with three simple payment plans:
- Free – $0 per month
- Pro – $9.95 per user per month
- Enterprise – varies
Paying for your yearly subscription in one payment will also save you 10%. You can find out more about the features of each plan here.
Sketch provides everything you need for collaborative design in one tidy package.
Do you use Apple’s macOS? Good news. The look and feel of Sketch are based on this operating system, so you’ll feel right at home.
Sketch is a vector-based design tool that has impressive features like the ability to resize anything you sketch without pixelation. But beyond being a great drawing tool, Sketch is ideal for wireframing and prototyping.
As with many other UI tools, collaboration is made easy with Sketch, so a whole team of designers and developers should have no problem getting things done together.
Note that Sketch is only available for macOS, so Windows users will have to look elsewhere.
Sketch comes with a 30-day free trial, but a standard subscription costs only $9 a month. Business packages are also available. Find out more here.
Figma is the first in-browser user interface design tool.
Packed with powerful features for design, Figma is the only thing you’ll need for designing, creating prototypes, and working collaboratively on projects.
Figma’s beginner-friendly editor lets you choose between creating brand new designs from scratch or starting with a template. There are many online tutorials to show you how it’s done.
Because Figma is web-based, users can simply sign in and carry on working on existing projects. There’s no need for multiple licenses or device limitations. Figma is the perfect collaborative tool.
Figma comes in four price bands:
- Free – free forever with limitations
- Pro – $12 per month paid annually or $15 paid monthly
- Organization – $45 per month
- Enterprise – $75 per month
You can find more details on pricing and features here.
4. Adobe XD
Adobe is a leading name when it comes to design and creativity.
Adobe XD offers a wide range of features to help you design, prototype, collaborate, and share.
Adobe XD lets you create designs for a range of purposes, from mobile apps to full websites. And integration with Envato Elements gives you unlimited downloads of high-quality Adobe XD graphic templates.
Here’s a list of Abode XD’s main features:
- Design prototypes
- 3D transforms
- Transition designs
- Third-party plugin support
- Responsive resizing features
- Repeat grids
Adobe XD is available across multiple devices and operating systems, so whether you’re running macOS, iOS, Windows, or Android, you should be able to access and edit your work.
Pricing starts from $9.99 a month for an individual account. There’s also a free trial. Check here for more.
Just like your favorite superheroes, Marvel is here to save the day when it comes to UI design.
Marvel’s easy-to-use platform makes it a breeze to get started designing a user interface. You can wireframe, design, prototype, and collaborate with speed, thanks to Marvel’s intuitive features and integrations.
Marvel’s Handoff feature also gives developers all the HTML code and CSS styles needed to begin building.
Marvel comes with three price bands:
- Free – with limitations
- Pro – £8 per month
- Team – £24 per month
You can find out more about pricing and features here.
Bubble is a leader in the no-code movement. Bubble offers a powerful point-and-click web editor and cloud hosting platform that allows users to build fully customizable web applications and workflows, ranging from simple prototypes to complex marketplaces, SaaS products, and more.
Since 2012, Bubble has offered powerful controls to designing web apps that lets non-technical founders and startups build apps faster and more affordably. Bubble has over 2 million users building apps, tech startups, and tech-enabled businesses.
Over 2M users are building and launching businesses on Bubble–many have gone on to participate in top accelerator programs, such as Y Combinator, and even to raise $365M in venture funding.
Bubble is more than just a product. They are a strong community of builders and entrepreneurs that are united by the belief that everyone should be able to create technology.
Bubble comes in four price bands:
- Free – access to basic features
- Personal – $29/month
- Professional – $129/month
- Production – $529/month
Find the perfect Bubble plan for you here—you can start building for free.
Comparing popular UI Tools
How to choose the right UI tool
Choosing the best UI tool depends on your specific goals. But with so many to choose from and with many of the features overlapping between providers, it can be a tough choice.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a self-taught designer in no-code building, here are some things to consider when choosing the best UI tools:
- Support - Does the tool have good support options and tutorials?
- Project requirement - Does it reach the needs of your project?
- Available updates - Does the tool move with the times with regular updates to features?
- Integrations - how well does the tool integrate with other software?
- Collaboration - How easy is collaboration?
- Price - Is it affordable? Can you save money elsewhere?
Why UI is important
Designing a solid user interface is just as vital as other business components.
Imagine you’ve spent hours searching for Acumatica competitors to switch up your ERP software to boost engagement. You’ve trained your support staff on how to provide the best service. But a poorly designed user interface will undo all your efforts elsewhere.
UI is important. It can help with:
Gaining new customers - A good user interface should increase customer satisfaction. Hopefully, satisfied customers should pull in more customers over time as your reputation increases.
A good user interface could be what makes you stand out above your competitors.
Retaining customers - An interface that provides an enjoyable experience is more likely to make customers return in the future.
By letting customers perform actions with ease, you’ll diminish the bounce rate caused by a negative user experience.
Boosting overall satisfaction rates - If users have a good experience with your UI, they’re going to leave feeling satisfied rather than frustrated.
As a designer, you should put yourself in the shoes of a customer and ask questions like:
- Would I be satisfied with this experience?
- Does the interface feel intuitive and easy on the eye?
- Can I achieve my intended goal?
- Does the design work across all my devices?
- Can I easily contact support or find extra help if required?
If you answer “No” to any questions like these, it’s time to get back to the drawing board.
The bottom line on UI tools
There’s no getting away from the fact that a strong UI is essential to keeping your customers happy. By using one of the tools listed above you’re sure to do this.
But remember, if you want a user-friendly tool that requires you to have no coding experience you can’t go wrong with Bubble.
Bubble is one of the most powerful no-code platforms, offering people the ability to build custom, dynamic, complex web applications, rather than basic, static templated websites offered by Squarespace or Wix. Since 2012, Bubble has offered powerful controls to designing web apps that lets non-technical founders and startups build apps faster and more affordably. Bubble has over 2 million users building apps, tech startups, and tech-enabled businesses.