Rapid prototyping is an essential step in the product development journey. Prototyping typically builds upon its predecessors - wireframes comprising a product's skeletal idea and mockups that incorporate elements of the final design.
Speed is critical with rapid prototyping to grant engineers and designers ample time to make quick iterations and pivot. Prototyping helps validate your product idea before investing the time and resources for a full-fledged development. Rapid prototyping is gaining popularity with many organizations that are trying to push Agile methodologies, especially among product managers.
What is a rapid prototyping tool?
Rapid prototyping tools are software that lets your team quickly build an early version of the product that will let you test a design hypothesis. In turn, it is something you show to your customers to give them a taste of what their product looks like in the real world.
Figma took the design world by storm thanks to their revolutionary all-in-one platform that offers rapid prototyping, a wireframing tool, UI/UX design, brainstorming, and so much more. Figma created the very first design tool combining the versatility of the web with a native app’s functionality. Fast forward to the present, and Figma doesn’t fail to impress with excellent features like smart animations and advanced transitions.
Why I picked Figma: I’m a massive fan of low-code and no-code tools, especially in this age and time of artificial intelligence (AI) intervention. Figma helps product managers create impressive prototypes without demanding any innate coding expertise. As a result, you can quickly translate great ideas into incredible functional and interactive prototypes. Figma’s advanced transitions give you a unique touch to prototypes. Throw dynamic overlays into the mix, and your prototypes are responsive and ready for handoff.
With Figma, your rapid prototyping gets faster. You can easily drag and “connect” buttons and elements to apply complex overlays and conditions. Moreover, you can define subtle yet critical interactions like hovers and clicks, etc.
Figma Standout Features and Integrations
Features include UI/UX design, wireframing, diagramming, brainstorming, agile workflows, strategic planning, rapid prototyping, a drag-and-drop interface, real-time collaboration, auto layouts, plugins and widgets, hotspots, transitions, components, and more.
Integrations include tools such as Axure, Bubble, Flinto, Maze, Microsoft Teams, Mixpanel, Pendo, Principle, Sprig, Zeplin, and others.
- Effortless prototype sharing via URLs
- Generous free plan
- Powerful pen tool for vector editing
- No dedicated desktop application (web-based only)
- Responsive prototyping could be better
InVision’s website copy oozes with the term “collaboration.” This reflects their emphasis on real-time collaboration for prototyping and design. InVision has some impressive clientele, such as IBM, Atlassian, Google, Netflix, and others. They even claim that companies partnering with them have realized a 475% spike in ROI across a three-year span.
Why I picked InVision: As a former product manager, I always strive for collaboration. Various stakeholders provide invaluable feedback on product ideas, and leveraging these inputs is critical. InVision helps you remotely brainstorm, collaborate, and plan thanks to its outstanding whiteboard feature.
I love InVision’s Freehand tool that allows you to create a “multiplayer” canvas for collaboration. Furthermore, InVision’s prototyping prowess is relatively rigid with features like hotspots, interactions, transitions, overlays, and floating buttons, etc.
InVision Standout Features and Integrations
Features include rapid prototyping, a drag-and-drop interface, interactive prototyping, screen design, design handoff, developer collaboration, design critique for gathering design feedback, several useful templates, and more.
Integrations include 10+ tools, such as Adobe XD, Asana, Google Sheets, Jira, Sketch, Slack, Webex, Zoom, and others.
- Huge UI component library
- Prototype building upon existing designs
- Very easy to learn
- Bugs with screen navigation
- Inspect mode isn’t very robust
Marvel is a staple name in the mockup and wireframing industry. With an intuitive, collaborative platform, Marvel helps product managers and developers to synergize and create great prototypes.
Why I picked Marvel: I find Marvel’s simplicity marvelous because you can easily convert design mockups into realistic prototypes in minutes. Furthermore, Marvel has built-in mockup and wireframing capabilities that enable you to go from an idea to an MVP (minimum viable product) very quickly.
Marvel supports every screen, including all Apple and Android devices and desktops. With Marvel, you can easily embed hotspots and improve user engagement. Hotspots refer to areas where your users can tap or click. Additionally, Marvel helps you link screens with hotspots and impart a feeling of spatial orientation for mobile users.
Marvel Standout Features and Integrations
Features include wireframing, mockup design, rapid prototyping, user testing, real-time collaboration, a developer API, advanced transitions, gestures, offline downloads, user testing, and others.
Integrations include 10+ tools, such as Ballpark, Dropbox Paper, Jira, Sketch, Slack, Userflows, and others.
- Clean and simple UI
- Easily shareable links to prototypes
- Commenting on prototypes
- Animations are not very fluid
- Limited features on the mobile application
UXPin endeavors to streamline prototyping and product development. UXPin started with Polish roots and has expanded worldwide. UXPin’s proprietary Merge technology helps build high-fidelity prototypes while simplifying the handoffs in a design process.
Why I picked UXPin: I commend UXPin for its fantastic design handoff capabilities. Design handoff is that stage in the product development process when the design team signs off on a prototype, and developers start the actual coding or development. UXPin helps smooth out the handoff cycle by automating design specs, CSS (cascading style sheets), and style guides.
UXPin helps developers get a mighty headstart by automatically filling in the CSS details. Moreover, UXPin creates contextual documentation that helps developers inspect designs accurately. Lastly, UXPin’s advanced transitions and navigation flows positively influence the look and feel of your interactive prototypes.
UXPin Standout Features and Integrations
Features include auto layout, component-driven prototyping, UI/UX designing, wireframing, logic-based prototyping with variable definitions and conditional interactions, heat mapping, and usability testing.
Integrations include 10+ tools, such as Asana, Google Sheets, Microsoft Dynamics 365, NPM, Salesforce, Storybook, Zendesk, and others.
- Prototype annotation
- Password protected prototypes
- Custom fonts upload
- Slightly steep learning curve
- Occasional lags on the platform
Justinmind has swiftly and steadily progressed to a full-blown UI/UX design platform. It’s fascinating to note that developers and designers used Justinmind to develop the entire Justinmind website and product portfolio, showing that the founding team has considerable faith in their technology.
Why I picked Justinmind: I love the responsive features that Justinmind offers. Liquid layouts are one such feature that allows you to define “liquid” containers for elements to adapt to various screen sizes, aspect ratios, or device orientations. Additionally, the auto-resize feature ensures that UI elements on a mobile or web app automatically resize to deliver a good user experience.
Furthermore, Justinmind features an instant preview feature that is extremely handy for simulating prototype behaviors, while you design a website or application. Justinmind gives you supreme control over responsive designing via breakpoints - predefined “points” for your website’s content to adapt. Lastly, Justinmind also supports exporting into HTML, PNG, SVG, TIFF, and JPG formats.
Justinmind Standout Features and Integrations
Features include responsive prototyping, wireframing, rapid prototyping, smart templates, mobile transitions and gestures, animations, conditional logic, variables, functional fields, data grids, real data testing, design handoff, user management, and others.
Integrations include 10+ tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe XD, Azure DevOps, Clicktale, Figma, Jira, Sketch, UserZoom, and others.
- Vast free resources for prototyping
- Intuitive drag-and-drop UI
- The free version allows unlimited prototypes
- A slightly steep learning curve
- Export bugs
ProtoPie's tagline is 'Deliver Prototypes Easy as Pie.' The team behind ProtoPie strives to create design tools that everybody can use. Since its inception, ProtoPie has evolved into a robust, rapid prototyping tool catering to various industries, including automotive, gaming, smartphones, smartwatches, and TVs.
Why I picked ProtoPie: Back in the day, I used to game a lot, and my product manager's idiosyncrasies always got me thinking about how developers would test something so intricate, like a whole virtual world and characters and conversations within a game. Enter ProtoPie, which helps with the rapid prototyping of games for desktops, mobile devices, and even consoles like the PS5 and Xbox.
With ProtoPie, you can create immersive prototypes for any gamepad. ProtoPie enables you to define dynamic interactions like variables, logic, and formulae. Variables help keep track of a game's score or a character's health.
ProtoPie Standout Features and Integrations
Features include rapid prototyping, interactive text input, AI voice assistant, photo gallery, scrolling and swiping interaction design, UI animation, ping and rotate interactions, draggable drawer, sound triggers, and more.
Integrations include software design tools like Adobe XD, Figma, Sketch and hardware devices like Arduino, Logitech G29 steering wheel, and others.
- Comprehensive interactive prototyping
- Lottie animations
- Vast learning resources
- The desktop view is a little cluttered
- No webcam support for desktops
Proto.io strives to improve product development by creating easy-to-use design tools for wireframing and prototyping. With Proto.io, you can effortlessly and swiftly create Windows, iOS, and watchOS prototypes topped with visually stunning UI elements.
Why I picked Proto.io: Proto.io has staggering numbers as the tool offers 250+ UI elements, 1,000+ templates, and over 6,000 digital assets. Consequently, you can quickly draw inspiration instead of reinventing the wheel.
With Proto.io, you can create functional prototypes brimming with life thanks to over 80 events like on mouse-over, on-screen show, on tap, etc., to define custom behaviors. Additionally, Proto.io offers great transitions and animations to create realistic prototypes.
Proto.io Standout Features and Integrations
Features include UI/UX design, wireframing, mockup design, rapid prototyping, a drag-and-drop interface, advanced animations and interactions, a great UI component library, customized events, custom font uploads, and others.
Integrations include Adobe Fonts, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe XD, Figma, Google Fonts, Sketch, and others.
- UI libraries for specific device types
- Easily shareable prototypes
- Great version control
- Occasional performance chokes
- Buggy import feature
You probably didn’t expect to find Facebook on this list, but Origami might surprise you. Origami Studio is a free Mac-based design tool created by the social media giant - Facebook. Origami features two products: Origami Studio - the prototyping tool, and Origami Live Viewer, which allows you to test prototypes on an iPhone or iPad.
Why I picked Origami Studio: I’m thrilled about the different kinds of data that Origami Studio collects for building prototypes. Origami Studio allows you to leverage hardware APIs to collect data attributes gathered from an iPhone’s accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, microphone, and camera. For instance, you can embed a device tilt attribute into a gallery prototype that horizontally scrolls across a panoramic image upon tilting your iPhone.
Another cool feature of Origami Studio is its ability to utilize live data. For instance, if you’re building an application marketplace prototype, you can use Origami to download live data from iTunes Search. You can then use this data to populate placeholders in your prototypes to impart a very realistic experience.
Origami Studio Standout Features and Integrations
Features include dynamic layouts, interactive components, and collecting data from hardware native APIs like haptic feedback, GPS, accelerometer, and gyroscope. Origami Studio also allows you to drag and drop files straight into the macOS Finder from Origami.
Integration details are currently not available.
- Live data utilization for realistic prototyping
- Layer-wise prototype editing
- Great Facebook community
- No desktop app and available only for macOS
- Steep learning curve
Sketch was born in 2010 in response to the founding team’s frustration with no tools available for UI design. Since then, Sketch has made tremendous strides in providing amazing design tools for freelancers and enterprises worldwide. Amongst its wide arsenal of design tools, Sketch’s interactive website prototyping is a must-use feature.
Why I picked Sketch: I love the firepower and sheer simplicity of Sketch. With Sketch, you can effortlessly build user journeys by connecting screens and UI elements. You can reuse UI elements and interactions instead of building from scratch every time. I love the multiple start-point feature that allows you to showcase several user flows and ideas to clients.
Sketch helps create authentic interactions powered by hotspots that allow you to make entire sections clickable instead of single elements. As a result, your mobile app rapid prototyping gains a unique edge. To create interactive website prototypes, Sketch ships unique interactions like fade-in and slide-up to improve user engagement. Lastly, Sketch has a native macOS app that allows users to leverage the Apple ecosystem for added productivity and personalization.
Sketch Standout Features and Integrations
Features include A/B testing, overlays, rapid prototyping, user journeys, a native macOS app, and a component web view - a comprehensive view of all colors, symbols, text & layer styles, font embedding, corner controls, and others.
Integrations include 15+ tools, such as Abstract, Flinto, Flow, InVision, Marvel, Maze, Origami, Plant, ProtoPie, Prott, Zeplin, and others.
- Extensive plugin library
- Great version control
- Asset re-usability across designs
- Limited measuring tools
- Limited to macOS users
Why I picked Framer: With Framer, you have several animations and effects at your fingertips. A popular animation includes the “appear” animation, which lets you animate a specific element while a page loads. Framer also features a Content Management System (CMS), which is particularly helpful if you have a blog on your digital product's roadmap.
Framer's eye for detail amazes me. With Framer's freeform design canvas, you can control minute details like the scroll type and scroll speed to create a stunning interactive website prototype. I love tweaking the 'scale' and 'rotate' attributes from the scroll transform settings to impart a unique zing to websites.
Framer Standout Features and Integrations
Features include interactive effects, powerful layouts, parallax scrolling, easy linking, overlays, a CMS, rollbacks, custom domains, staging, web page optimization, smart components, and others.
Integrations include tools such as Formspark, Google Optimize, Hubspot, Intercom, Logo, Mailchimp, Typeform and others.
- High-quality interaction capabilities
- Code editor for high levels of customization
- Great Facebook community
- A slightly steep learning curve
- CMS isn’t very robust
Best rapid prototyping tool for codeless and advanced transitions
Free plan available
Best rapid prototyping tool with a collaborative design whiteboard
Free plan available
Best rapid prototyping tool for embedding hotspots and transitions
7-day free trial + free plan available
|From $16/user/month (billed annually)||Website|
Best rapid prototyping tool for simplifying the design handoff process
14-day free trial + free plan available
Best rapid prototyping tool for responsive breakpoints and liquid layouts
Free plan available
Best for creating video game design prototypes
Free plan available
Best rapid prototyping tool with comprehensive UI component libraries
15-day free trial available
Best rapid prototyping tool for leveraging native hardware APIs
Free to use (open source)
|Free to use (open source)||Website|
Best rapid prototyping tool with a native macOS application
30-day free trial
Best for creating interactive website prototypes
Free plan available
|From $10 /site/month||Website|
- Axure RP
Best rapid prototyping tool for implementing conditional logic
Best rapid prototyping tool for e-commerce websites
Best for creating low-fidelity prototypes and wireframes
Best rapid prototyping tool with an extensive mobile app and web template collection
Best rapid prototyping tool with an API connector
Best rapid prototyping tool with a Retina interface
Best rapid prototyping tool for implementing scrolling and micro-interactions
- Adobe XD
Best rapid prototyping tool for creating content-aware layouts
- Ignite UI by Infragistics
Best for designing web application prototypes
Best rapid prototyping tool with support for Salesforce simulations
How I Picked The Best Rapid Prototyping Tools
To build this top 10 list, I evaluated and compared various rapid prototyping tools with positive user ratings.
After determining my list of top choices, I further honed my list by using the selection criteria below to see how each platform stacked up against the next. I also drew on my years of product management experience to pinpoint beginner-friendly and effective features.
Here’s a summary of the primary evaluation criteria I used to build my list of the best rapid prototyping tools:
As a product manager, time is of the essence. Does the rapid prototyping tool feature a clean and intuitive UI? Does the tool offer easy no-code and drag-and-drop features? How steep is the tool’s learning curve? Do the tool creators offer online tutorials, certification, or webinars for getting started?
Tools with a rich library of relevant prototyping templates can help you start quickly. Does the rapid prototyping tool have a vast number of editable templates? Are the templates easy to edit?
Does the rapid prototyping tool have integrations with other third-party design and collaboration tools? For instance, if a prototyping tool integrates with a design tool like Adobe Illustrator, you can pull your design files, libraries, and assets, streamlining the entire design and prototyping process.
The right prototyping tool will be different for everyone, depending on the features you need. I look for the starting price these tools offer on a month-by-month payment schedule. This way, you know how much it'll cost you to try out the software if you want to try it out for 30 days.
What is rapid prototyping?
When should rapid prototyping be used?
What’s the difference between prototyping and rapid prototyping?
Rapid prototyping requires you to make one crucial decision. Will you go with a high- or low-fidelity prototype? The answer is in our rapid prototyping techniques article. You should also see what is the difference between a prototype and a wireframe.
Related tool lists:
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