Prototyping designs can help capture and compare multiple ideas, unearth and rectify any functional or usability issues, share the design with your client, and incorporate feedback in a professional manner. As an app developer, experimenting with design ideas and investing time and effort to work on the most viable design is key to your success.
Depending on your project requirements, you can either settle for a wireframing tool, such as Balsamiq; or check out one of these five prototyping tools, which can help create interactive prototypes that closely mimic the real app.
Tool 1 – Form (Previously RelativeWare)
A Google offering since 2014, Form is a free node and graph-based visual prototyping tool. Originally intended for iOS devices, it’s likely to extend support for Android in future. Prototypes on Form are native, giving you an opportunity to access in-built hardware sensors such as accelerometer, camera, etc. on the device. You will able to preview the design across multiple devices, and any changes that you incorporate will be updated in real time. The latest Form roadmap can be found here.
Tool 2 – Pixate
Yet another tool offering you access to native UI components of the device, Pixate supports preview and update of designs from both iOS and Android devices. You can import designs from Sketch and Photoshop, and probably even generate native code for your design and export them for use in the final app if Pixate is successful in offering these features. You need to be online to use this tool.
Tool 3 – Keynote
Keynote is a popular tool but only for simple prototyping, with basic animations and interactions. With a separate app available for iOS, it is possible to preview designs on these devices as well. It is free to use, but lack of layers will make it difficult for you to manage and edit the design. Previewing the design will lock the display and you may make changes only after you stop and exit the operation.
Tool 4 – InVision
Interactive prototypes, choice of transitions, gestures and animations are a few features that InVision offers. It also boasts real-time sharing across mobile and desktops, version control, user-flows and automated to-do lists based on feedback.
Tool 5 – LiveCode
Functional prototyping using a rapid app development tool such as LiveCode will help assess whether you’re on the right track before proceeding with full-fledged coding. If you are working on a client project, each new feature warrants clarity. You can showcase UI design, database support or device-specific features for clearance, then go on to incorporate the functionality after getting a green light from the client.