Nowadays, there's a huge demand for mobile applications due to the rapid growth of worldwide mobile usage. There are many mobile applications to perform almost any task. However, not every app gets the attention they deserve from the users. The secret behind getting many downloads for your mobile app is having an eye-catching design, efficiency, and compatibility with many platforms.
UI designing is one of the main phases of a mobile app development project, where mobile designers commonly use prototyping. Mobile app designing tools have gained immense popularity in the industry as designers can benefit from the right tools to speed up UI design tasks. They provide app developers with many functionalities to design intuitive UIs faster and easier.
This article will discuss some of the best design tools for creating mobile apps in 2021. We will discuss their visual design features, support for customizations, and integrations. Finally, we will have a look into the pricing plans of each tool.
Sketch is an excellent vector-based design tool developed for modern app designing specifically for Macbooks. One of the strengths of Sketch as a design tool is its user-friendly layout which enables even novice app designers to catch up on things quickly.
The customizable grids and resizing tools of Sketch allow you to scale your design to fit into your screen. Additionally, Sketch allows you to scale your app designs by creating reusable components. Its smart layouts allow you to resize to fit their content automatically. You can view all your components in the component's view, which lets you organize everything in one place.
Sketch supports real-time collaboration and sharing your work with others. One cool thing about Sketch is that it facilitates creating libraries of design components that can be shared among collaborators. It also comes with many plugins and integrations for you to build more powerful mobile applications.
Marvel App will be a good choice if you're looking to build a prototype of your mobile app idea fastly and share it with others. It allows you to sync designs from other design platforms like Sketch, Photoshop, and illustrator and supports various screens such as desktop, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch, and Android devices.
This tool provides several design features such as built-in interactions to add realistic animations, creating components, embedding videos, etc. Additionally, it provides access to millions of stock photos and other popular integrations like Dropbox Paper, Microsoft Teams, YouTube, and Atlassian Jira to build great applications faster.
Figma is a browser-based design tool like Sketch that works well with most web browsers and platforms, including MacBooks, Windows PCs, Linux, and even Chromebooks. Like many other tools, Figma also supports collaborative designing, which is much easier due to its useful collaborative editing features. It provides a fully customizable mobile UI kit to simplify your design workflows.
One cool thing about Figma is its online whiteboard which allows designers to add sticky notes and conduct online design presentations. Its searchable and shareable assets help you build reusable design libraries and components to enhance the design consistency across your application. Figma supports several integrations with third-party platforms. There are also several Figma add-ons, such as Atlassian's JIRAs' Figma add-on, which enables developers, quality engineers, and product owners to stay up-to-date with the mockup from the designers.
Professional- $12 per editor, billed yearly or $15 per month
Team - $45 per editor billed yearly or $15 per month
Draftbit is a browser-based visual development tool that provides a platform to build native mobile applications for iOS and Android. It comes packed with many visual designing features and offers many UI components to design any mobile app from scratch. Moreover, it offers the flexibility to build your own components and reuse them throughout the app. As you build, Draftbit will create open-source code which you can fully download. Rather than a pure design tool, you can think about Draftbit as a bridge between designers and code.
Draftbit provides a live preview of your app on the go with support for a range of customizations, including the ability to use custom source code. One of the best UI design features of Draftbit is the complex navigators you can build with tabs and stacks of screens. This tool allows collaborative designing. Furthermore, it enables you to connect with an external database, integrate third-party platforms, and quickly deploy the built app to the web.
Adobe XD is an intuitive design tool that offers many unique features to design iOS apps. It has an excellent user-friendly UI which helps novice mobile designers to grasp things quickly. Furthermore, it supports designing 3-D apps where you can move and rotate objects in space. This tool also lets you create components and instantly apply changes to those components across all the designs using states.
Repeat grid is another intuitive and useful design feature of Adobe XD to turn an element into a repeating set of components. Therefore, designing features like photo galleries and product listings for your mobile app is fast and super easy.
On top of that, Adobe XD allows you to import designs and graphics from Illustrator, Photoshop, and Sketch. It provides several UI kits, including Apple UI designs for iOS, iPad, macOS, and watchOS, which you can use to kick-start your design.
Origami Studio 3 is a free design tool from Facebook that can be used to create quick and intuitive mobile app designs. Origami 3 is the latest version of this tool which is packed with several useful features. It allows you to import designs from other tools like Photoshop, Figma, and Sketch and build native iOS and Android apps. You can use its canvas to build dynamic layouts with interactions, and you can further combine it with its patch editor to build more powerful interactions.
One of the best features of Origami Studio 3 is the Photo Library, which enables you to retrieve images and videos from your iPhone's camera roll or Photo Library on macOS to create photo-based layouts. Audio Metering is another cool feature that lets you create visualizations from music or video. You can access Gyroscope information to create device motions, and it also lets you access GPS data for adding map features.
Zeplin is another collaborative design tool with user-friendly and tailor-made layouts to design iOS and Android apps. Its Global Style Guides allow you to organize your designs with colors, text styles, and components in a centralized location.
This tool allows you to import finalized designs from Figma, Sketch, Adobe XD and Photoshop into Zeplin and lock the design for developers while designers are working on it. You can also integrate with platforms like Slack, Jira, Teams, VS Code, and Trello for more powerful collaborative designs. This collaborative nature makes Zeplin accessible for all the members involved in your mobile application development, including non-designers like product managers, Quality Engineers, etc., and get their instant feedback on the go while designing.
InVision is another powerful tool that provides a very attractive and modern design layout for designing mobile app prototypes. It comes with several design features like hotspots, interactions, animations, transitions, etc., for you to design a mobile app within minutes. Like many other design tools, it also allows you to import work from other tools like Sketch and Photoshop.
InVision is also popular for its great collaborative design features, enabling designers to brainstorm ideas for the design. InVision Design System Manager is the component that connects design and code for designers to work smarter with intuitive designs.
Proto.io is a good design tool for beginners due to its easy-to-use design features. It lets designers drag and drop components to the interface without coding. Moreover, it provides 250+ UI components, 1000+ customizable templates, and a large number of animated icons, images, and sound effects.
One of the cool design features of this tool is micro-animations to build small animations, which lets you design advanced animations with different effects. It also lets you import designs from Photoshop, Adobe XD, and Sketch, and its comments feature enables you to get feedback while designing.
Prices are per month and paid annually
UXPin is another UI design and prototyping tool that provides everything you need to build production-ready mobile app designs. If you are using Sketch, you can import sketch designs into UXPin. The UXPin mirror lets you preview your designs easily on mobile devices by scanning the QR code without the need to connect via USB or use Wi-Fi.
UXPin also supports easy collaborations by providing tools for design sharing and feedback collection. Components libraries of UXPin let you create a set of colors, styles, and assets, and its merge technology allows designing with different versions of the design elements.
Every plan includes a free trial and per editor and month.
The mobile app design tools described above come with several useful functionalities that make the lives of app designers easier. Almost all of them support collaborative designing, importing designs from other platforms, and many third-party integrations. However, it's essential to know your requirements first when selecting the best tool that suits your needs.