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Cloud Based Design and Prototype Tools You Should Know About

Upgrade your website build process with these cloud based design and prototype tools. We’ve reviewed the best in the business, so you don’t have to.

Fine-tuning the layout, design, and color scheme of any website or online application requires insight into basic color psychology as well as an understanding of marketing when it comes to your target audience.

If you are working in UI/UX (user interface/user experience) or if you are spearheading a project that requires design prototypes, finding the best cloud based design and prototype tool for the job is essential. The right prototyping tools can have a significant difference in how you approach your next project as well as how you choose to design and develop it.

What is a prototype tool?

A prototype tool is any tool or resource used to generate UI/UX designs before you are ready to launch them live to the public. Part of website wireframes 101 includes building a test website before going live to the public. Website prototype tools are typically useful for tweaking navigational elements, colors, design blocks, and specific visuals and items that are being used on and throughout your website or newly-designed applications.

A prototype tool is extremely useful for those who are interested in tending to the finer details of a project once a basic design has been established. For those who develop project prototypes for UI/UX purposes, understanding the differences between web design vs graphic design is imperative.

What are the benefits of cloud prototyping?

Using cloud-based design and prototype tools is extremely beneficial as it allows you to do so from just about any location, so long as you have a working wireless internet connection. Using a cloud-based solution for managing your prototypes is also a way to save the progress of your projects in a safe location that is being managed by another trusted and reliable host. Notable advantages of cloud prototyping include:

  • Save time: Streamline your management and update efforts by doing so with cloud based design prototype tool solutions that work for your project.
  • Manage from anywhere: Whether you are traveling or always working on the go, easily manage your cloud-based projects from just about anywhere.
  • Cost: Using a cloud-based prototype and design tool is a way to save on the costs of hiring an in-house development team to create a prototype tool of your own.
  • Security and encryption: If the safety and security of your project is a top priority, working with a third party that is cloud-based, secured, and guaranteed as safe and reliable is often best. Working with a third-party cloud solution for prototyping your designs is also a way to maintain peace of mind as your cloud-based solutions are built, stored, and managed in one central location.

4 Types of prototyping

Before you choose prototype tools that are right for your own projects, it is advisable to familiarize yourself with the four types of prototyping that are most commonly used and seen throughout many business industries today.

1. Rapid Prototyping

Rapid prototyping, also commonly referred to as "throwaway" prototyping, is extremely fast-paced and common when it comes to testing items that are designed and developed for short-term uses. Testing completed projects with rapid prototyping may only require a short sprint, but may require additional circles of feedback until the item(s) are developed any further and/or published.

With rapid prototyping, prototypes are created and discarded as more prototypes are built for future models of a design or project. Even traditional paper or cardboard prototypes are considered "rapid prototypes" today.

2. Extreme prototyping

Extreme prototyping is a common method of prototyping, and is typically reserved for website prototype tools and web-based projects. With extreme prototyping, it is first important to build HTML wireframe solutions that carve out the basic layout of a website or a mobile application.

Then, the designers and/or developers are responsible for transforming the existing new wireframe into functional blocks of code and working HTML pages. Finally, the developers and designers will then begin to program and implement the layers of code that have been produced.

3. Evolutionary prototyping

Evolutionary prototyping is another commonly used method of prototyping, especially for those who are working in the tech and software industries. With evolutionary prototyping, prototypes and technologies are researched and developed often only once stakeholders in a particular organization or group give the go-ahead. Evolutionary prototyping relies on investors and a stakeholder economy in order to evolve in a manner that is desired by those who have a vested interest in the project.

4. Incremental prototyping

With incremental prototyping, numerous tools or solutions can be built together simultaneously and in parallel to determine the best choice for your prototyping needs. Using incremental prototyping is often best for larger projects that are being scaled, as having a multitude of different prototypes before you launch a project can be confusing for the average business owner.

5 Cloud based design and prototype tools

Before choosing the cloud based design and prototype tool you want to use for your next design or development project, review some of the very best design and prototype tools available today to help make your decision.

1. Adobe XD

Adobe XD, is a vector-based website prototype tool that is optimal for vector-based projects as well as collaborative design with other professionals. Adobe XD was developed by Adobe, creators of Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and so many more pieces of legendary software throughout the years.

Adobe XD is optimal for UX designers who are interested in creating designs that are static with the potential of turning them into interactive objects or designs. Adobe XD is suitable for static designs, artboards, and even interactive prototypes when working in Adobe XD's own "Prototype Mode", built-in for all users.

  • Cost: $9.99 per month or $52.99 annually with an Adobe Creative Cloud suite membership.
  • Compatibility: Windows 10, MacOS (10.15 or later), and most web browsers

2. Figma

Figmas is a leading popular UI/UX prototyping tool that includes all-in-one solutions for managing UI/UX design in one central location. Figma is ideal for UI/UX design, wireframing, prototyping, and collaboration efforts with team members.

Using Figma is ideal for anyone, including those who have little to no coding experience themselves. Using an intuitive builder, easily select and implement coding and design elements for any project, regardless of size. It is also possible to use Figma using a mobile smartphone with the Figma app, available for both Android and iOS smartphones.

  • Cost: Figma is free with its Starter plan. However, premium plans begin at $12 per month and go upwards of $45 per month, depending on your needs.
  • Compatibility: Works in-browser, with a downloadable app (Android/iOS), or with Windows and MacOS operating systems.

3. Framer

If you are seeking free website prototype tools that are available apps, consider working with Framer. Framer is suitable for making modern animations and realistic modern designs that can be crafted by beginners and advanced developers alike.

Framer's drag-and-drop prototype system provides the perfect opportunity to build creative prototypes that include modern transitions and advanced animations without any programming experience required. Using code-based prototypes, you can easily preview a prototype website or application in real-time with Framer and its hundreds of additional tools are also included for all UI/UX designers.

  • Cost: Framer is currently free of cost for up to 3 projects and 2 employees/editors. There is an additional premium plan from Framer for around $19 per month for unlimited projects.
  • Compatibility: Currently, Framer is compatible with iOS, Android, MacOS, and in-browser solutions.

4. Proto.io

If you prefer your prototype tool to be browser-based and packed with hundreds of templates and/or built-in resources, Proto.io may be the best choice for you. Proto.io helps streamline the process of developing low-fi wireframes that are quick, simple, and straight to the point. With Proto.io, you can then take your lower-quality wireframes to develop them into high-fi prototypes before launching them to the public.

Using Proto.io also makes it extremely easy to import any existing wireframe you may be using or that you have created with the use of Figma, Adobe XD, Sketch, and more. One of the most appealing aspects of using Proto.io is the ability to choose from more than 6,000 ready-made animations and library assets that come included for all designers who choose to use Proto.io for their own prototyping projects.

  • Cost: Proto.io currently offers a 15-day free trial for all users, followed by a $24/month plan for Freelancers as well as a $40 a month plan for Startup companies
  • Compatibility: Currently, Proto.io is entirely web-based!

5. Sketch

Sketch is a great prototyping solution for those who are looking for web-based resources that are ideal for MacOS users. With Sketch, create static designs using vector-based tools and integrate your design with interactive screens and built-in artboards as you progress.

Sketch makes it easier than ever to work with new elements in a project or to add links between artboards you have created. Using Sketch, you can view your prototypes in the built-in Sketch site on the web, in the Sketch app for Mac devices, or using the Sketch Mirror iOS application on any compatible device.

  • Price: $9 per editor per month for individuals and teams alike (Standard Plan)
  • Compatibility: Unfortunately, Sketch is only available for MacOS users at this time.

Improve your designs with proper prototyping

If you are looking for more information on how to design a website and you want to get started with an all-in-one solution of your own, consider turning to Mailchimp. Mailchimp provides a one-stop solution for anyone interested in building a functional prototype or website, managing newsletters, and even launching digital marketing campaigns from one central location. With Mailchimp, learn to create a free website while managing it using a single solution.

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