Top Software Prototyping Tools

Wait, hold up. We just went over software prototyping tools right before the holidays. In all honesty, nothing’s changed in that short of a time period, so for a lot of you, this is going to be pretty redundant. But, given, again, the amount of frequent new readers, I have to sit here and repeat myself sometimes. I don’t like it, but I would like new readers being left in the dark far less.

What Constitutes Prototyping Tools:

Ok, prototype does legitimately mean different things to different disciplines. To the project leader, when they say prototype on a personal level, they mean alpha, beta and release candidate builds of something.

Programmers consider a prototype to be the first handfuls of code that work together to perform one of the actions intended, and onwards.

Of course, designers, well. Designers consider mockups, flow charts of code and navigation, virtualizations and so on to all be different kinds of prototypes.

Nobody’s wrong.

What’re the Ramifications:

Well, the ramifications of prototype meaning so many things is that when you try to recommend software prototyping tools, you’re either going to have to make a huge list, specialize for one of those disciplines, or recommend a little for everyone. I shall do the latter this time.

#1 – Visual Studio (Programmers)

Microsoft’s Visual Studio is of course not an obscure thing, but it sounds off, right? Well, it is designed mainly for direct project work for Windows over the dotnet framework. But, since it’s simple, fast and visual, developers can mock up their software as runnable on it, and then port this quickly to the language and platform necessary once it’s been proven.

#2 – Balsamiq

Balsamiq is a GUI prototyping tool for web, mobile app and traditional software interface designers. While the coders are proving basic concepts and goals on the fast and easy VS dotnet platform, designers can work out concepts for the interface in Balsamiq.

It’s quick, easy and responsive. Then, the coders can prove the design live on dotnet.

#3 – Visio

I know, another Microsoft product. I wanted to recommend an alternative to it, but Visio’s the best one and I want to recommend the best. It’s available as SaaS now too, and you gotta love that.

Visio was created for all kinds of business graphics applications. It can make flow charts, info graphics, floor plans, schematics and all manner of other things.

This is great for coders to plan out how to design logic, and for designers to plan out navigation. Alongside the other two systems here, everyone, including project leadership benefit from all being on the same page, and everyone’s work being perfectly cross compatible.

Honorable Mention:

Ok, Microsoft and Balsamiq can be a little pricy. You can also use Google Drive’s business graphics tools for UI mockups, and for mapping flow charts and navigation patterns.

You can also use Mono Develop to handle Visual Studio’s role. It’s basically the same thing only made by an open source third party. It’s just a little clumsier.

Conclusion:

These are the same software prototyping tools I recommended last year, and for now, they’re still the best. Who knows about the future though?

bnr14

Megan Wilson
Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)walkme.com
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