Suppose you will work on a software development project. In that case, it’s time to look for the right software prototype tool because it has a high impact on making products with less time, less money, and higher quality. But how can you find the best software prototype tools among a dozen tools available? This post will go through five of the best software prototyping tools available and what they’re best used for.

Software prototyping tools
Source: The UX Blog

What is software prototyping?

The term “software prototyping” is self-explanatory. It is the process of creating a working prototype of a product. In the case of a software prototype, the product is a software solution, for example,  a mobile app, an automated system, a database, or a dashboard. 

Why is software prototyping essential?

Software prototyping has several advantages, including saving time and money while developing a higher-quality product. Prototypes also encourage stakeholders to invest in software projects if the prototypes perform well. They also allow your users to comment on the work in progress.

Six essential advantages below will convince you to conduct software prototyping right now:

  • Reducing time for development
  • Optimizing development costs
  • Tailoring the product to your needs
  • Encouraging stakeholders to invest in your concept early on by visualizing
  • Usability testing at an early stage
  • Improving user experience

Software prototyping models

By far, there have been four software prototyping models. We will explain the detail of each model below.

Rapid Throwaway Prototype

The need for a rapid throwaway is based on the preliminary criterion. It’s made fast to demonstrate how the requirement would seem visually. The client’s feedback aids in modification, and the prototype is developed again until the condition is baseline.

In this approach, the prototype will go through several cycles of feedback, improvement, and evaluation to become a reference for the project stakeholders. The developed prototype would be replaced by a new one after each sprint. 

software prototyping models
Source: UX Planet

Evolutionary Prototyping

The prototype is gradually improved in response to consumer input until it is eventually accepted. It helps stakeholders develop a full-featured output from the original concepts or elementary requirements.

This paradigm is functional when working on a project that involves new technology that is not fully known. It is beneficial for a large project to test every feature once, especially when the need is not set in stone nor fully understood at the outset.

Incremental Prototyping

Through incremental prototyping, the ultimate product is divided into small prototypes and created independently. Then, the separated prototypes are eventually combined into a single product. This strategy aids in reducing the amount of time for users to provide feedback to the application development team.

Extreme Prototyping

The approach of extreme prototyping is most commonly employed in web development. It is divided into three parts that must be completed in order.

  1. Presenting a basic prototype in HTML format with all existing pages
  2. Using a prototype services layer to mimic data processing
  3. Merging and implementing the service into the final prototype

Software prototyping tools

The top 5 prototyping tools in software engineering below are far from a comprehensive list. However, they are among the most popular and capable prototyping tools you may find accessible. We have detailed all the advantages and disadvantages of each tool, so you can choose a suitable software prototyping tool for your project.

Axure

Software prototyping tools
Source: Axure

Axure is one of the most common and powerful prototyping tools.

Pros:

  • The ability to add many interactions
  • The intricacy of interaction possible
  • The ability to develop a more complicated, high-fidelity prototype

Cons:

  • Taking a long time for novices to learn and use it fluently

You could choose Axure to conduct rapid throwaway prototyping, evolutionary prototyping, incremental prototyping, and extreme prototyping. Axure is especially effective for evolutionary prototyping.

Proto.io

Software prototyping tools - proto
Source: Proto.io

Proto.io is a website that allows you to make prototypes for several platforms.

Pros:

  • Newcomers can quickly adopt Proto.io
  • You can create containers for reusable content
  • Proto.io includes transitions and animations to make the prototype appear to be a finished product
  • You can construct complex interactions if knowing a bit of JavaScript

Cons:

  • Internet access is required to use
  • You are only able to export the static screens or save the prototype to the app

We recommend using Proto.io to develop a rapid throwaway prototype or evolutionary prototype.

Marvel

Source: Marvel app

Marvel’s prototype tool has the most features in the free package among any tools we have seen.

Pros:

  • It is easy to use – even if you don’t know how to code – thanks to its simple drag-and-drop feature
  • Marvel is integrated with Photoshop and Sketch to create animated prototypes from imported designs
  • You can utilize large element libraries to design multiple platforms
  • The tool incorporates various lively stock photo galleries

Cons

  • Marvel provides a limited number of functions to make a prototype

With all the mentioned features, Marvel can be at its best performance when you use the tool to generate a rapid throwaway prototype.

Sketch

Source: Sketch

You may make a prototype with Sketch if your project incorporates artboards.

Pros:

  • With Sketch, you construct natively clickable prototypes seamlessly
  • This tool is a wise starting choice for amateurs with little development experience

Cons:

  • Only Mac users can use Sketch

You can try Sketch to create all four types of prototyping models, as long as you are a Mac user.

Adobe XD

Source: Adobe XD

Adobe XD is a dynamic tool for designing and developing high-level software prototypes for websites, web applications, and mobile apps.

Pros:

  • You can generate cohesive screens for various products with Adobe XD
  • The tool is accessible on both Mac and Windows
  • It is easy and adaptable for Adobe users to use

Cons:

  • Adobe XD only provides basic logic
  • You can approach a limited prototype functions

Adobe XD is recommended to develop all prototyping models seamlessly. If you are an Adobe fan, do not hesitate to adopt Adobe XD now for your software prototypes.

Because prototype technologies have different strengths and shortcomings, it’s hard to declare a single “best” prototyping tool. Because of its simplicity, Marvel will be your favorite tool if you aren’t a designer. You should use Axure if you want a high-fidelity prototype that can include gestures and conditionals.

This table visualizes which tools work well on which software prototyping models:

AxureProto.ioMarvelSketch (For Mac only)Adobe XD
Rapid throwawayxxxx
Incrementalxx
Evolutionaryxxxx
Extremexx

Final words

This post wraps up the five best software prototype tools for anyone working on a software development project. Hopefully, this article has given you an idea of some of the possibilities available and assisted you in finding a tool that may suit your needs the best. If you want experienced guidance, selecting a competent IT Service Provider that meets your company’s requirements will be significantly helpful.

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