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With so many different UI solutions available, figuring out which is right for you is tough. You know you want to manage your UI development process more efficiently, but need to figure out which tool is best. I've got you! In this post I'll help make your choice easy, sharing my personal experiences using dozens of different developer tools with large teams and projects, with my picks of the best UI developer tools.

They streamline the brainstorming process, enhance collaboration within your design team, and simplify the creation of digital products. You can even find design software that provides a free plan, effectively removing budget constraints. With the right interface design tool and robust testing tools, usability testing becomes easy. These tools ease the pain points of achieving smooth user interface design. So, if you're looking to amplify your UI design process, please take a moment to explore the options I'll present. They might just be what you're looking for.

What is a UI Developer Tool?

UI developer tools are used to design, prototype, and test user interfaces for various digital platforms like websites, mobile apps, and software applications. These tools have various functionalities that can streamline the design process, foster collaboration, ensure design consistency, and enhance the overall user experience.

Professionals such as UI/UX designers, front-end developers, and product designers regularly leverage these tools to create interactive, intuitive, and visually appealing interfaces that users interact with. From constructing a website's layout to fine-tuning a mobile app's interactive elements, UI developer tools are at the heart of crafting digital experiences that are functional and enjoyable for the end user.

Overview Of The 10 Best UI Developer Tools

Best for cloud-based interface design and real-time collaboration

  • Free plan available
  • From $15/editor/month
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Rating: 4.7/5

Figma is a cloud-based design tool known for its collaborative capabilities. It facilitates the design of user interfaces for web and mobile applications directly in the browser, allowing real-time collaboration among teams. Given this, Figma stands out for projects where multiple stakeholders must collaborate concurrently, making it best suited for real-time, collaborative design tasks.

Why I Picked Figma:

When choosing the tools for this list, I gravitated towards Figma due to its exceptional collaborative features and the convenience of cloud-based design. Its ability to simultaneously allow multiple users to work on the same design sets it apart. This distinguishing characteristic makes it the best tool for teams collaborating on real-time interface design.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Figma boasts a robust feature set, including vector editing, prototyping capabilities, and design components that can be reused across projects. Its real-time collaboration is enhanced with features like co-editing, commenting, and version history.

Regarding integrations, Figma works well with various popular tools such as Slack, Jira, and Zeplin. These integrations facilitate more efficient communication and workflow management within teams.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Smooth integrations with popular workflow tools.
  • Robust design and prototyping tools.
  • Real-time collaboration and co-editing features.

Cons:

  • Advanced features may have a steep learning curve for beginners.
  • Being cloud-based, it requires a stable internet connection to work effectively.
  • It can be more expensive than other design tools.

It lacks a built-in design feature, relying on integrations for this aspect.

  • From $8.25/user/month, billed annually
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Rating: 4.1/5

Fluid UI is a browser-based tool offering an intuitive UI design and prototype creation platform. Its core feature is the ability to facilitate real-time collaboration, making it ideal for teams working together on design projects.

Why I Picked Fluid UI:

I chose Fluid UI for its unique focus on real-time collaboration. During the selection process, I observed that this tool stands apart with its built-in video and voice conferencing, enabling live team collaboration. Therefore, I determined it as the 'Best for real-time collaboration on design projects.'

Standout Features & Integrations:

Fluid UI boasts critical features like drag-and-drop prototyping, an extensive widget library, and interactive page linking. This tool integrates well with Sketch and smoothly transitions from static designs to interactive prototypes.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Easy to use with a gentle learning curve.
  • Provides a broad range of UI components.
  • Real-time solid collaboration features.

Cons:

  • No native application, only browser-based one.
  • Sometimes, the interface may feel slow.
  • They have limited advanced prototyping capabilities.

Best for integrating design and prototyping in one tool

  • 7-day free trial
  • From $9.99/user/month

Adobe XD is a versatile design and prototyping tool developed by Adobe Systems. It allows designers to create user interfaces for web apps and mobile apps. As a tool that integrates design and prototyping, Adobe XD ensures a streamlined workflow, making it ideal for creating interactive, animated prototypes.

Why I Picked Adobe XD:

During my evaluation process, I picked Adobe XD because it blends interface design and prototyping into a singular workflow. The fluidity between designing and prototyping in one workspace simplifies the overall process, and this unique attribute is what makes Adobe XD stand out from other tools. Moreover, its comprehensive toolset makes it best to create high-fidelity prototypes that look and feel like real things.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Adobe XD's key features include an intuitive design editor, a prototype mode for adding interactivity, and the ability to share prototypes for feedback and testing. Its 'Repeat Grid' tool is also exceptional for quickly designing repetitive elements like lists or photo galleries.

Regarding integrations, Adobe XD is compatible with other Adobe software such as Photoshop and Illustrator. In addition, it also provides plugins to link with other popular tools like Slack, JIRA, and Microsoft Teams, facilitating easier collaboration and feedback gathering.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Allows for sharing and gathering feedback directly on prototypes.
  • Smooth integration with other Adobe applications and popular third-party tools.
  • Combines interface design and prototyping in a single tool.

Cons:

  • Limited free tier compared to other design tools.
  • Requires a learning curve, especially for those who need to become more familiar with the Adobe ecosystem.
  • It would be less budget-friendly for larger teams.

Best for vector-based interface design

  • 30-day free trial
  • From $9/user/month

Sketch is a popular digital design toolkit to help you create your best work. It's vector-based, making it an exceptional tool for interface design, where precision and scalability are critical.

Why I Picked Sketch:

I selected Sketch for this list because of its focus on vector-based design. This unique emphasis makes it an invaluable resource for creating scalable, adaptable user interfaces. Hence, I believe Sketch is 'Best for vector-based interface design.”

Standout Features & Integrations:

Sketch provides tools for the creation and editing of complex vector shapes. Its symbols and shared styles for reusing elements add to its usefulness. The device integrates well with plugins like Zeplin and Flinto, allowing designers to turn static designs into interactive prototypes.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Good integration with prototyping tools.
  • Useful symbols and shared styles for element reuse.
  • Excellent for vector-based interface design.

Cons:

  • Absence of built-in prototyping capabilities.
  • The learning curve can be steep for beginners.
  • Available only for macOS.

Best for high-fidelity and animated prototyping

  • 30-day free trial
  • From $29/user/month

Axure is a comprehensive tool that creates interactive, dynamic, high-fidelity prototypes without writing a single line of code. Its capabilities make it the perfect companion for UI developers interested in presenting a closer-to-reality representation of their designs.

Why I Picked Axure:

I picked Axure due to its standout ability to create high-fidelity, interactive, and animated prototypes, a feature that significantly stands out from the crowd. After comparing various tools, I judged that Axure excels at providing a more realistic and engaging design experience, which justifies it being the best choice for high-fidelity and animated prototyping.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Axure is known for its wide array of features, such as dynamic content, conditional flow, animations, and adaptive views. Beyond these, its integrations are equally impressive. It plays well with tools such as Sketch and Figma, making it a versatile choice in a UI developer's toolkit.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Rich set of features for creating interactive and dynamic prototypes.
  • Offers a wide range of integrations with popular design tools.
  • Exceptional at creating high-fidelity prototypes.

Cons:

  • It lacks a built-in design feature, relying on integrations for this aspect.
  • The pricing model may be better for small teams.
  • Comes with a steep learning curve.

Best for responsive and mobile-first web projects

  • Free to use
  • Free and open-source

Bootstrap is a robust, widely-used CSS framework that simplifies developing responsive and mobile-first websites. With Bootstrap, developers can rapidly prototype their ideas or build entire applications using a system of the grid, CSS components, and Javascript plugins.

Why I Picked Bootstrap:

In the selection process, Bootstrap is the most suitable for designing responsive and mobile-first web projects due to its intuitive grid system and many responsive components. Its unique combination of CSS, HTML, and Javascript libraries allows developers to achieve mobile-ready complex layouts and features, making it a distinctive tool among CSS frameworks.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Bootstrap features an extensive list of CSS components, including buttons, navigation bars, forms, and models, all responsive. It has a 12-column grid system perfect for creating flexible and varied layouts. Furthermore, it provides numerous JavaScript plugins for creating dynamic web components such as carousels and modals.

As for integrations, Bootstrap works easily with many development environments and tools, including React, Angular, and Vue.js. This wide range of compatibility enables it to fit easily into almost any web development workflow.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Broad compatibility with various web development tools.
  • Offers a vast array of pre-styled components.
  • Excellent for creating responsive and mobile-first designs.

Cons:

  • Requires understanding of its class naming and grid system.
  • It can be heavy for simple projects due to its comprehensive feature set.
  • It can result in similar-looking websites if not customized.

Best for implementing Google's Material Design

  • Offers both free and premium versions
  • From $249/license/year (billed annually)

Material-UI is a popular React UI framework implementing Google’s Material Design philosophy. It offers a wide range of UI components that enable the construction of aesthetically pleasing and functionally rich web applications. Its alignment with Google's design philosophy makes it the ideal tool for implementing Material Design.

Why I Picked Material-UI:

I found Material-UI intriguing due to its deep integration with the React ecosystem and Google's Material Design. The decision to include it in this list was motivated by its vast component library and consistency with the modern, minimalist aesthetic of Material Design. Hence, I determined it to be the best tool for implementing Google's Material Design.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Material-UI's strengths are its comprehensive library of pre-designed components, customization options, and consistent updates. It's not only about design; its integration capabilities with other key technologies, such as React, Vue, and Angular, make it even more robust and adaptable.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Alignment with Google's Material Design.
  • Deep integration with React ecosystem.
  • A broad selection of pre-designed components.

Cons:

  • Customization may require a deeper understanding of the library.
  • The learning curve for beginners.
  • Pricing can be steep for the premium version.

Best for interactive and animated prototypes

  • From $7.95/user/month (billed annually)

InVision is a prototyping tool that makes transforming designs into beautiful, interactive interfaces easier. Its emphasis on animation and interaction makes it an excellent tool for creating prototypes that closely mimic the final product.

Why I Picked InVision:

While selecting tools for this list, I was particularly drawn to InVision's strength in creating highly interactive and animated prototypes. This capability helps teams visualize the final product and test usability more effectively. In my assessment, InVision is the top choice for interactive and animated prototypes.

Standout Features & Integrations:

InVision is known for its 'Inspect' feature, simplifying the hand-off by automatically translating designs into code. It also has a robust commenting system that streamlines feedback. As for integrations, it works well with Sketch and Photoshop, allowing you to import designs quickly, and it integrates with tools like Jira, Trello, and Slack for easy workflow management.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Strong integration with other design and project management tools.
  • Powerful 'Inspect' feature for easy design-to-code translation.
  • Excellent for creating interactive and animated prototypes

Cons:

  • It can be slow when dealing with larger files.
  • It may be overkill for simple projects.
  • It may be overkill for simple projects.

Best for highly customizable, low-level utility CSS

  • Free plan available
  • Free and open-source

Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS framework that provides low-level utility classes to build custom designs. It's specifically developed for developers wanting more control over their plans without the restrictions of more opinionated frameworks.

Why I Picked Tailwind CSS:

I chose Tailwind CSS for this list due to its highly customizable nature, offering users complete control over their styling. What differentiates it from other CSS frameworks is its low-level utility classes that allow you to construct unique designs without fighting against pre-defined styles. This level of customization makes it ideal for developers who want precise control over their creations.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Tailwind CSS boasts a responsive design, pseudo-class variants, and customizability that surpasses many other CSS frameworks. It provides utility classes for flexbox, padding, margin, width, height, and more, giving you the tools to create unique designs. Its compatibility with PostCSS and PurgeCSS, alongside integrations with popular front-end frameworks like Vue.js and React, only adds to its value.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Compatible with popular front-end frameworks.
  • Provides complete control over design styling.
  • Highly customizable with a utility-first approach.

Cons:

  • No default theme or pre-designed components.
  • A learning curve for developers used to more traditional CSS frameworks.
  • It can lead to lengthy and repetitive code.

Best for versatile coding with a rich extension marketplace

  • Free plan available
  • From $45/user/month

Visual Studio Code is an open-source, free code editor developed by Microsoft. It provides developers a platform to write and debug code in many programming languages. This versatile nature makes it apt to cater to a broad spectrum of coding requirements, making it the best choice for a rich extension marketplace.

Why I Picked Visual Studio Code:

Visual Studio Code was a clear winner in my search for UI developer tools. Its versatility, flexibility, and compatibility with many programming languages stood out. I chose it because its integrated marketplace offers a wealth of extensions that users can leverage to customize and augment their coding experience, making it the best choice for an extension-rich environment.

Standout Features & Integrations:

Visual Studio Code offers powerful features like syntax highlighting, intelligent code completion, snippets, code refactoring, and embedded Git. It also comes with a debugging feature, which removes the need for a separate debugging tool. Key integrations include GitHub, Docker, Python, and JavaScript, which are pivotal for most developers.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Massive extension marketplace.
  • They integrated a terminal and debugger.
  • Wide range of language support.

Cons:

  • Sometimes slow with larger projects.
  • High memory consumption.
  • It can be overwhelming for beginners.
Tools Price
Figma From $15/editor/month
Fluid UI From $8.25/user/month, billed annually
Adobe XD From $9.99/user/month
Sketch From $9/user/month
Axure From $29/user/month
Bootstrap Free and open-source
Material-UI From $249/license/year (billed annually)
InVisionApp From $7.95/user/month (billed annually)
Tailwind CSS Free and open-source
Visual Studio Code From $45/user/month
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Other Noteworthy UI Developer Tools

Below is a list of additional UI developer tools that I shortlisted but did not make it to the top 10. Definitely worth checking them out.

  1. Semantic UI

    Best for utilizing human-friendly HTML in design

  2. Zeplin

    Best for maintaining design consistency across teams

  3. Canva

    Good for easy-to-use graphic design and content creation

  4. Balsamiq

    Good for rapid low-fidelity wireframing

  5. CodePen

    Good for front-end developer playground and code editor

  6. Avocode

    Good for easy handoff of designs to developers

  7. Sublime Text

    Good for fast and feature-rich code editing

  8. AngularJS

    Good for building robust single-page applications

  9. jQuery

    Good for simplifying JavaScript operations

  10. Framer

    Good for interactive design projects and prototyping

  11. Storybook

    Good for developing and showcasing UI components

  12. Ant Design

    Good for comprehensive React-based UI frameworks

  13. Sketch2React

    Good for converting Sketch designs into React code

  14. Fractal UI

    Good for building and documenting component libraries

Selection Criteria for Choosing UI Developer Tools

After countless hours of testing and researching, I've understood the crucial aspects one must consider while selecting the exemplary user interface (UI) design tool. The UI design space is flooded with various devices; I’ve evaluated dozens of them. But in this scenario, I was mainly looking for tools that cater well to real-time collaboration, component reusability, prototyping capabilities, and integrations, among other things.

Core Functionality

  • Prototyping: The tool should allow you to design, test, and iterate prototypes.
  • Component Library: A well-organized library for reusable components is crucial to maintaining design consistency.
  • Real-time Collaboration: Teams should be able to collaborate and provide feedback on designs in real time.
  • Design Handoff: The tool should facilitate a smooth transition from design to development.

Key Features

  • Interactive Prototyping: Designers can create and share interactive design prototypes to test usability.
  • Version Control: Keeps track of changes and allows for easy rollback to previous designs, fostering collaboration.
  • Integration Capabilities: Integrating with other tools, like Slack, Jira, or development platforms, can streamline workflows.
  • Accessibility Checking: Ensures designs are accessible to users with different abilities, following WCAG guidelines.

Usability

  • Intuitive Interface: For UI design tools, it's crucial to have a well-structured, visually appealing interface that simplifies the design process. For example, agencies should provide easy access to frequently used features and a clutter-free workspace.
  • Easy Onboarding: Tools should offer comprehensive tutorials and guides to help new users quickly understand and use their functionalities.
  • Efficient Customer Support: Having prompt and efficient customer support can significantly enhance user experience, especially when dealing with complex software.
  • Performance: The tool should be responsive and handle large design files without slowing down, ensuring a smooth design process.

Most Common Questions Regarding UI Developer Tools (FAQs)

What are the benefits of using UI developer tools?

Using UI developer tools brings numerous advantages to the table, including the following:

  1. Efficiency: These tools provide an efficient way to create, test, and iterate designs quickly, significantly speeding up the design process.
  2. Collaboration: Most UI developer tools enable real-time collaboration, allowing team members to collaborate easily, regardless of location.
  3. Consistency: With features like component libraries and design systems, these tools ensure consistency across all your designs, providing a more cohesive user experience.
  4. Prototyping: UI tools allow you to build interactive prototypes, making testing usability easy and getting feedback before moving to development.
  5. Design Handoff: Many tools facilitate a smoother transition from design to development by automatically generating specs and assets for developers.

How much do UI developer tools cost?

The cost of UI developer tools can vary greatly depending on their features, complexity, and target users. Some devices are free, some have monthly or annual subscription models, and others charge a one-time license fee.

What are the pricing models for UI developer tools?

Most UI developer tools follow either a freemium or a subscription-based pricing model. Freemium tools offer essential features for free, with the option to upgrade to a premium version for advanced features. Subscription-based tools typically offer different pricing tiers based on the number of users, the amount of storage, or the level of functionality.

What is the typical range of pricing for UI developer tools?

The typical pricing range for UI developer tools can be anywhere from $0 to $100 per user per month, depending on the tool’s features, functionality, and target user base.

Which are the cheapest and most expensive UI developer tools?

The cheapest UI developer tool would be one that offers a free tier like Figma. However, a premium subscription would require more advanced features and larger teams. On the other end of the spectrum, with their advanced features, robustness, and extensive libraries, tools like Adobe XD and Sketch can be more expensive. Adobe XD and Sketch can be more expensive, with their advanced features, robustness, and extensive libraries.

Are there any free tool options available for UI development?

Yes, several UI development tools offer free options. Tools like Figma, Adobe XD, and Sketch provide free tiers with basic features. However, upgrading to a paid plan might require additional capabilities or larger teams.

What do you think?

So, that's the roundup of my favorite UI developer tools. I hope this guide has given you some helpful insights and valuable direction in your quest for the perfect tool. But remember, this industry is continually evolving, and there might be other fantastic tools out there that I still need to include in this guide.

By Hannah Clark

Hannah Clark is the Editor of The Product Manager. Following six years of experience in the tech industry, she pivoted into the content space where she's had the pleasure of working with some of the most brilliant voices in the product world. Driven by insatiable curiosity and a love of bringing people together, her mission is to foster a fun, vibrant, and inspiring community of product people.