Test your market with these 6 prototyping tools

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This is an edited crosspost from Nuwait.

Some entrepreneurs think that prototyping delays the launch of the real product and could be a waste of time.

But having a prototype is important to test market demand, get feedback on what the target audience wants from the product, and improve features. Most importantly, it allows for an inexpensive fail if the product does not match the market requirements.

That said, prototyping is also an important approach for communicating the product vision and idea to the product designers or developers.

Whether you are prototyping a web, mobile or desktop product, these tools listed below will help you test the need, without spending too much money.

1. Axure RP

This desktop application provides developers and user experience (UX) designers with interactive tools to build a prototype without coding.

The features include creating mockups, diagrams, charts and boards relying on existing samples. The mockups and designs are published and uploaded to the cloud and and allow for group collaboration while keeping a history of changes.

Axure RP offers a one-month free trial before you'll have to buy a package plan, depending on the duration and number of users.

2. Framer

This application allows users to work on their prototypes and see the changes live on a mobile-shaped design, giving an idea of how the end product would look like.

Framer might be similar to many photo editing programs, allowing users to add layers, change size and colors, drag navigation bars, choose type and style of interaction when clicking on the navigation bar, add photos and other visuals.

The application offers a free trial before giving access to its one time paid version for $129.

3. Invision

This entirely free application allows users to create a design and upload it in minutes.

It creates an internal social network of testing users where feedback and task assignment can be exchanged easily.

Mainly designed for getting feedback on the user interface, Invision allows different members to work on a real-time in-browser design and present it to stakeholders and potential clients.

4. Mockplus

This desktop application lets users prototype using the drop and drag technique. It uses offline group collaboration and lets people design a simple message box in few seconds.

Its free features include support on iOS, Android, desktop and web platforms, eight templates, exporting to HTML, reporting, 200 components, sharing prototypes and automatic backup.

5. Balsamiq

This desktop and web app is a good tool to communicate with designers.

It allows for group collaboration on the web version and can be used offline as well. Balsamiq allows users to drag and drop boxes, iterate mockups and review changes made by others.

It has a free trial web app and the price varies depending on the different packages offered on the platform.

6. Vectr

What distinguishes this tool is that it works on both Windows and Mac for free.

The prototypes created can sync on both desktop and the web version and can be shared via a URL and get integrated in internal communication apps like Slack.  

While all of these tools offer similar services, it is up to the designer or the entrepreneur to choose the one that is less costly and more convenient to the scope of their design.

What prototyping tools do you use at your startup? Feel free to share them in the comment box below.

[Main image via Smash Magazine]

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