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What Tools Should You Use While Designing Mobile Apps?

To design an effective mobile app user interface, you also need good mobile app design tools besides your skills. So let’s review these design tools.

13 min read

What tools are used to create mobile apps? You may not know the answer to this if you are a beginner at design. However, many mobile application design tools have emerged since the rise of mobile applications and their increasing use.

These tools, developed in 2010 and appealing to the growing market, not only facilitate each other’s work but are also in great competition. Tools that can adapt to changing needs over time have dominated the industry in the world today. Famous companies continue to develop the most used design tools. If you have a mobile application idea, You should expect it to have a sustainable, modern, and robust technology infrastructure. For this, mobile app design firm using up-to-date tools can be a wise choice to test your idea.

As you can imagine, these tools are just mobile app design software you use to bring your idea to life. At this point, the capabilities of the application design tool are essential to convey your concept precisely. Because entire design processes are now carried out through application design tools, for this reason, mobile designers prefer up-to-date and modern design tools to show their talents through design tools.

Why Are Mobile Design Tools Needed?

Before diving into the mobile app’s UI tools, it might be good to answer this simple but essential question. Understanding the purpose of mobile UI design tools makes it easy to choose between tools and clarify your need.

Mobile design processes are long and detailed. They are testing the idea before implementation to avoid time and financial losses. At the same time, considering usage scenarios and app features, creating user flows, knowing the target audience, and creating wireframes are essential before starting mobile application design. You can imagine the difficulty of managing all these processes. Solving these challenges is not always the task of mobile app designers. This is where modern app designers needed the mobile application design tool. Mobile design tools started to be developed to offer a much better solution according to the conditions of the period. Mobile design tools made things easier with their features.

Now the mobile app UI design tool has become the core module of a design process. When it comes to mobile app design, all designers think of choosing one of their preferred mobile app designing tools and scribbling something on the canvas. Because the elements required to design and how to start the work are clear.

The software you need; It’s not the most capable mobile app design tool; it’s the tool that makes your process the easiest. Remember that. Today, there are alternatives to many design tools, so finding what you need among them will be beneficial.

Most Common Mobile App Design Tools

There are unlimited paid and free mobile design tools in the market. Although the basic features are similar, some interface design tools have dominated the industry. Rather than wasting time learning each design tool, it is recommended to master one. Thus, ideas and designs come to the fore instead of tools.

If you are a designer or want to bring your product to life, the tool you choose is vital at some point. In this article, mobile design tools -used by many companies- will be mentioned. We will compare the features of the tools and the positive and negative aspects impartially. While sorting and selecting design tools, we considered their popularity, usage rate, and capabilities.

Figma

One of the most popular mobile application design software. Many say it’s the best app design software ever. It aims to enable you to manage all design processes from user flow to prototyping in one place. It is compelling compared to other tools in the market, especially with its advanced features. One of the reasons why it is viral in the market is that it constantly catches up-to-date requests, and it follows a communication and support policy with the designers.

It also includes prototyping and brainstorming features. With Figjam -a file style of the Figma tool- you can manage your business canvas, and user flows before starting mobile design. Or you can even use it to take notes.

Considering all these features it offers, Figma has taken the communication of designers within the team and the communication of designers with other groups to the next level.

In addition, Figma has dozens of official training videos that explain how you can use the tool most effectively. The tips and tricks they broadcast live from time to time also explain the purpose of the features in Figma. Thus, you can get inside information about Figma details.

One of its most significant advantages is its continuous improvement. They have teams that analyze user needs very well and produce instant solutions. They recently added some great features; One of them is widgets. A part that will become indispensable from the first moment you use it.

While other applications only provided plugin support, Figma Widgets made it possible to present the features of many productivity tools within the app. There’s no limit to what you can do in Figma, as the community supports widgets. You can log how long you have worked on your design files, and you can leave voice notes on the designs. You can add a simple linking system to frames and much more. With the latest updates, it is by far the best mobile application software tool for now.

Pros
  • Designers can manage the whole process with a single tool
  • Advanced features that facilitate teamwork (in-app conversation)
  • Free for students and educators
  • Strong community
  • Indispensable features unmatched by its competitors.
  • Available on Desktop & Web & Mobile app platforms
  • It has many integrations with other productivity apps and design tools.
Cons
  • You can only host 3 Figma and 3 Figjam files in the free version.
Price

There is a free package available for starters. Two different plans are offered for teams and professionals. Professional and Organization plan. Pricing is per editor on these plans. The Professional plan charges 12/month with annual payment and 15/month with monthly payment. In the organization plan, you can only pay it annually; it is set as 45/month per editor. You can see details here: Figma pricing.

Sketch

Sketch is a design tool that is widely used and one of Figma’s closest competitors. It used to be the design tool that dominated the industry. Although it has bitter rivals at the moment, it still manages to come to the fore. This is because it has almost the same features as Figma and has a serious fan base like Figma.

One of the reasons for its frequent use is that collaboration is at the forefront. But while working in real-time is possible in Figma, it is not so easy in Sketch. Moreover, because Figma is browser-based, Sketch works as a Mac app. So although Figma and Sketch are collaborative interface design tools, their working systems are different.

At this point, it is necessary to give some information; Because Sketch only works on the Mac, designers misunderstand that they can only design iOS Apps. That’s not true, and Sketch is a complete interface design tool.

Considering that it was released in 2010, Sketch can predict that it had created a large community by this time. Thanks to this community, you can get help quickly. It will be quick to solve when you have a problem by Googling. Another feature that will allow you to gain speed is its plenty of plugins.

As mentioned, Sketch is becoming less and less popular daily because of Figma’s new features and Mac app-only support. However, most companies using Sketch still cannot switch to Figma, so they continue to use Sketch because the transition from Sketch to Figma is still not very easy. In addition, importing tools is not stable. So, Sketch might still be a good choice for your workflow.

Pros
  • Designers can manage the whole process with collaboration only on Sketch.
  • Free for educators -not students-
  • Strong community
  • It also has integrations with other valuable tools. See here: Sketch integrations.
Cons
  • No free version -even for students-
  • Only for Mac users. They don’t have a plan for other platforms and systems either.
Price
  • Free plan available. Paid plan starts from 12/month with an annual payment.
  • There is no free plan. In the paid plan, per editor, There are 99/year or 9/month payment options.

Adobe XD

There are three tools that design beginners will hear the most. Two of these were mentioned; Sketch and Figma. Another severe competitor is Adobe XD. Having a company like Adobe behind it will be enough to understand how advanced the XD is. You can get started with Adobe XD with a Creative Cloud membership. Of course, you don’t have to buy a full-featured creative cloud membership for this. You can use Adobe XD. Membership options will address this in the pricing section. Similar to other tools, you can also design, prototype, and collaborate with this tool. But as each tool has its differences, XD also has its features. It has shortcomings, especially in collaboration; Figma is way ahead in this regard.

The tool is easy to learn. Adobe has plenty of resources to get started with XD. If you’re familiar with Adobe’s other tools, XD will be enjoyable to work with. Designers can easily use it thanks to the integrations between Adobe’s tools, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

Still, Sketch and Figma go one step ahead, especially regarding user experience details. This chain of tweets is a resource that Figma proudly presents on its comparison page with Adobe XD; ~100+ reasons why Figma is better than XD.

Pros
  • A widespread tool with a strong community
  • Available on Desktop & Web & Mobile app platforms
  • It has integrations with other tools that will facilitate your design process
  • Adobe’s other tools can make the designs much more creative.
Cons
  • Limited cloud storage
  • Only supports desktop apps, not browser-based (Windows and Mac)
  • You can share your design link with others, but the person receiving the link invitation must have an Adobe Creative Cloud account.
  • No free plan for students and education.
Price:

Adobe prefers country-based pricing. Pricing is offered in 4 plans: personal use, students and educators, work and teams, schools and universities. You can check your country’s pricing plan from this link.

UXPin

It is another browser-based design tool. UXPin; developed by designers, for designers. For this reason, it fully responds to the problems and design needs encountered. Even from the interface you engage when you register, you can understand that the tool is easy to use.

UXPin has pre-prepared elements. Creating a file in the tool asks what kind of project you want to work on. Elements are shaped depending on the file type you choose. Elements in UXPin evoke atomic components in tools like Figma&Sketch. As is familiar from all design tools, frame, border, text, etc., elements are available. In addition, buttons, checkboxes, calendars, pagination, etc., elements, which can be called design patterns, are also available in shortcuts. The drag and drop method can add all these elements to your design.

Another detail differentiates UXPin from other design tools in terms of usage. This tool can add interactivity to designs directly on the design page. Considering this context, UXPin acts as a design-builder tool. Although the principle is different, what is done here is the same prototyping process in other tools.

Pros:
  • Browser-based.
  • Code components are made for designers (designs have a ready-made UI components code library).
  • It has an import feature for Sketch and Photoshop.
Cons:
  • Very expensive compared to its competitors
  • Integrations are increasing based on the pricing plan. (free plan has limited features)
  • Not very popular compared to Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD
  • Limited design skills
Price:

It has a complex pricing plan. Two main plans are offered, UXPin Standard and UXPin Merge. UXPin Standard is the design tool, and UXPin Merge is the plan where both the design tool and code components are offered. Both plans have monthly and annual payment options. Let’s talk about the details. Also, you can see the pricing plans with this link.

UXPin Standard has four packs;

Basic

  • Monthly payment  —  $24 per editor/month
  • Annual payment  —  $19 per editor/month

Advanced

  • Monthly payment  —  $29 per editor/month
  • Annual payment  —  $39 per editor/month

Professional

  • Monthly payment  —  $83 per editor/month
  • Annual payment  —  $69 per editor/month

Enterprise

  • Custom — you need the talk with the support team.

UXPin Merge has 3 packs:

Startup

  • Monthly payment  —  $112 per editor/month
  • Annual payment  —  $89 per editor/month
  • Company
  • Monthly payment  —  $149 per editor/month
  • Annual payment  —  $1199 per editor/month

Enterprise

  • Custom  —  you need the talk with the support team.

Design Assistance Tools

When all mobile app processes are considered, interface design and visual design are only a part of the process. While moving from design to development, there may be cases where mobile app design software is not sufficient. As it is known, mobile app wireframes and prototyping are also of great importance in modern design understanding. Although you can design wireframes in all the aforementioned tools, prototyping is a more complex issue. Contemporary mobile designers rely on mobile app prototyping platforms to deliver advanced prototypes. Interactive mobile app prototypes allow the developer to understand the animations in the design clearly.

Today, prototyping also makes a difference in terms of comparing design tools. Mobile application design tools have added advanced prototyping (interactive) features, especially to UI components. For example, Figma is ahead of many design tools for interactive mobile application prototypes. Design handoff is a critical step for the quality of the mobile application design process. Improving the relationship between designer and programmer can also be provided with tools. Let’s also touch on the design tools that they solve, which are wireframe and prototyping:

Wireframe & User Story

  • Whimsical
  • Miro
  • Figjam (part of Figma)

App Prototyping

  • Framer
  • Principle
  • Invision Studio
  • Marvel
  • ProtoPie
  • Adobe After Effects

It is possible to list many more tools. As mentioned, the most used tools in the market are listed. Because in any problem, the tool’s support itself or the community can give support to help.

It is important to remember that working with a single tool always speeds up your work. For this reason, the design tool you choose should also be able to replace the design assistance tools. For example, Figma is a potent design tool. At the same time, its prototype feature is so advanced that you can create visually stunning prototypes.

Summary

When designing mobile, remember that the tools you use are the only tools that lead you to the final design. In other words, the most practical tool is the tool that will bring you the final design in the most accurate way. Therefore, when choosing a tool, determining the frequency of use, prominent features, and needs should be influential in your decision. Another consideration is the system you use for design: Some tools like Sketch, while popular, are not compatible with all systems.

When comparing tools, Figma stands out when free use, platform/system support, advanced features, and the ability to manage the whole process with a single tool are considered.

Figma is still ahead regarding ease of learning and educational resources. It is followed by popular tools like Sketch and Adobe XD. If you have no previous experience with any tool, it is recommended to start with popular tools. On the other hand, a faster learning process awaits you if you are a designer and want to learn the tool, thanks to online resources. If your goal is to test your mind as quickly as possible, these three popular tools may be your choice for ease of use.