A question many people ask is, “what’s the best UX software on the market today?” Alas, this is a difficult question to answer as classifications for UX software are going to be murky on a good day and utterly nebulous the rest of the time. When you look at the definition for UX (user experience), it means any instance of a user, vis a vis a consumer or customer, interacting with a product, service or communication of some form. So, as a result, software to facilitate this could … really be any software out there regardless of how mundane or how pointless this software may be.
With that in mind, let’s define UX software as software used in the authoring of other software or products with which the user may interact. We’ll exclude scientific, engineering and business/industrial authoring software from this definition, and look only at software intended to author experiences for users or customers in the private sector.
With this definition in mind, let’s look at the top five UX software suites currently in use.
Number 1 – Microsoft Visual Studio Suite
Well, you certainly can’t have user experiences without software to author them, and that’s why the number one software authoring suite around gets the number one spot on this list.
With a visual point and click GUI editor, graphical resource management and the fastest compiler around, this is one of the best windows-centric programming environments around. Offering an array of languages such as the tried and true C++ as well as C# and Visual Basic, you can author any kind of client side user experience your imagination can conjure with this software set.
.Net applications are hard to port to other platforms and require some consideration of efficiency during authoring, though.
Number 2 – The Adobe Creative Suite
It’s impossible to pick out just one program from the Adobe Creative Suite to talk about as they’re all so task-oriented and when combined, they can make so many wonderful things.
Adobe has long been the king of graphic design software, and with visuals being one of the most important components in the media-saturated UX environment of today, they would warrant the number 2 spot if they had nothing but Photoshop to offer. But, they don’t. Adobe also offers intuitive web design software, multimedia applet design via Flash and visual Java programming, as well as a whole suite of video and audio editing programs as well. Adobe is all about enabling you to create user experiences with artistic flair.
The only downside is their software is getting heavier and more bloated with every release, and also increasingly expensive.
Number 3 – Unity
Gaming is becoming one of the most topical UX processes in the private sector, and for good reason. But, game development, especially for multi-platform targeting, has been a nightmare in the past. Learning several languages, learning nuances from one platform to the other and managing different builds has been a headache since gaming was in its infancy.
But, this is where Unity comes to save the day. Earning our number 3 on this UX software list, Unity allows game designers to create a single project in a simplified C# derivative, and then deliver it to just about every platform out there from a central location. No modification of code or nuances is needed.
Unity is a little bulky and its web app builds ten to take their time loading, so it may be better to choose flash for browser gaming.
Number 4 – Google SketchUp
3D -enhanced visuals and modeling are becoming increasingly appreciated in the UX process, as gaming and CGI movies have spoiled people in recent decades.
Unfortunately, modeling software has always been a burning pain to learn and use, and hiring modelers remains prohibitively expensive in almost all cases.
Enter Google SketchUp, the little program that could. Originally just a simple toy designed by Google to get people to populate Google Earth with landmark models, it has become one of the most widely appreciated modeling programs in the last few years. It is remarkably easy to pick up and learn, and has few actual limits when some expertise and experience is acquired.
The models created directly by SketchUp are a bit ugly, so it still helps to have 3D Studio Max or something similar around to import the model, and export with some visual polish. But, give it time.
Number 5 – Stencyl
Stencyl is a point and click authoring tool for the development of Java applets, flash components and HTML5/AJAX interfaces. It’s intended to publish on a multitude of not platforms but formats from a single project.
Its point and click interface reduces the amount of programming understanding needed to implement these various web interfaces significantly, and isn’t as prohibitively expensive as the Adobe suite or the professional release of Unity.
Stencyl still requires some programming logic if not programming language knowledge, and can be a bit buggy. Its interface is also not as good as it could be, earning it the number 5 position on this list.
So, we’ve looked at some differing definitions of UX software, and gotten a good look at what basically defines this concept as a whole. When it comes to choosing software for UX processes, you are in fact choosing the software you author your content in, as you can see.
These are just a few of the suites available, and they serve different purposes. But, in general terms, this list will more than likely contain UX software that is right for your needs.