30 best UI design tools for digital designers

February 19, 2021
Best tools for digital and UI designers

The UI design tools you need to know about for every challenge the industry can throw your way, whether it’s graphic design, wireframing or user testing

Think you know what the best UI design tools are? We wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t sure. The sheer volume of choice these days leaves many a designer at a fork in the road. We’ve been in the same boat, so we’ve compiled a list of the best tools to help you stop worrying about technicalities and get on with what you love: designing.

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In this post, we’ve gathered up the ten best UI design tools to use with your prototyping tool, ranging from freebies and open source to complex packages for every budget. You’ll also find the five of the best tools for wireframing those initial concepts, along with some great interaction tools for adding in some functionality. Lastly, we’ve included five of the best tools to test those designs on your users.

Let’s move forward in the name of pixel-perfect UI design!

Best UI design tools

1. Justinmind

Price: Free forever

For us, Justinmind is the go-to tool for everything UI design. We even designed our website and blog with it! Here’s why: it’s fast, it’s efficient and it’s got all the integrations you need.

Firstly, there’s no limit to the designs you can create on the canvas with advanced font text design and editing features, along with an exhaustive color palette with a gradient and transparency tab. In addition to that, you can add whatever shape or import whatever image you want, in addition to having access to thousands of our fully-customizable, pre-designed elements and widgets.

Best UI design tools - Justinmind

But that’s not all – we said efficient and we meant it. Useful keyboard shortcuts such as the direct selection tool lets you quickly and easily select layers inside of groups. High-speed and precision zooming lets you go from birds-eye view to microscopic in split seconds. You can also preview widgets by hovering over them – no need to open them or drag them onto the canvas to see what they look like. Responsive UI design is also easy in Justinmind. Liquid layouts and automatic element resizing makes previewing your prototype on any device a piece of cake.

Lastly, as designers, we also love Sketch, Photoshop and Illustrator – that’s why we’ve made integrations possible for these three UI design tools. Easily import artboards and layers, tweak them and add interaction!

2. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator

Price for Photoshop: $20.99 monthly per user
Price for Illustrator: $20.99 monthly per user

Who in the UI design industry hasn’t heard of Adobe’s suite of powerful tools? Out of the many tools they have, perhaps the best UI design tools to bring to a desert island are Photoshop and Illustrator.

Best UI design tools - Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator

When it comes to UI design, there’s no easy replacement for Photoshop when it comes to image editing/retouching, graphic design, resizing and digital painting.

On the other hand, Illustrator, your alternative to Sketch, lets you draw perfect vector images, logos and graphics with second-to-none precision. You can even automatically trace hand-drawn sketches with Adobe Sensei, an Adobe Experience Cloud integration, to convert them to vector graphics.

3. Sketch

Price: $99 annually per user

Sketch is the number one tool on most UI designers’ lists, or at least those with a Mac! Sketch makes the perfect colleague for producing pixel-perfect vector graphics, in addition to manufacturing elements, components and all the building blocks that make up a design system.

Best UI design tools - Sketch

This UI design tool has all of the features you need to produce your UI designs, whether it’s using resizing constraints and math operators to Boolean operations, snapping and smart guides. Exporting assets is a smooth operation and it comes with a large variety of compatible plugins, like Pexels for stock images, Cluse for color contrast accessibility.

4. InVision Studio & InVision Craft

Price: $9.95 monthly per user

InVision Studio is a UI design tool that lets you draw vectors and design the screens of your product. It’s a good alternative for building and managing a design system, using the DSM feature. It also lets you create an adaptive layout which is crucial to responsive design, as well as bestowing you with the ability to import Sketch files – handy!

Best UI design tools - InVision Studio and Craft

InVision Craft is a plugin that’s compatible with both Sketch and Photoshop that helps make the design process a little easier. It comes with a tool called freehand that lets anyone of any skill level collaborate in an online white board for brainstorming, wireframing and meetings.

5. Figma

Price: $12 monthly per user

Most UI designers will probably have heard of Figma, but how does it stack up against the others on the UI design tools list?

Best UI design tools - Figma

Figma comes with a pen tool that gives you the freedom to draw in any direction using what’s called “Vector Networks”, meaning you don’t have to reconnect to the original point in path.

Instant arc designs are another feature that help you draw pie charts, clocks and any other circular element with relative ease. There are a few other benefits thrown into the mix that can help speed up the design process, such automated resizing, OpenType (advanced font design) and stretch-to-fill for easy responsive design. It also comes with a plethora of useful plugins, such as stock imagery, color accessibility features, flow diagrams and many more.

One of our favorite features, however, has to be the handy auto-save for files, followed closely by the version history feature.

6. Webflow

Price: $15 monthly per user

Webflow is a UI design tool that attempts to build a bridge between code and UI design. It literally lets you take control of code such as JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS3 and manipulate it all in a visual canvas. Designs can be translated directly into code that’s ready to publish on the web or hand off to developers. It also comes with many pre-built elements that you can simply drag to the canvas.

Best UI design tools - Webflow

Something different that this UI design tool offers is that it allows you to work directly with CMS data to build out your designs with real content.

7. Marvel

Price: $9 monthly per user

Marvel is a UI design tool in the browser that lets you present and share your designs anywhere. It’s a design tool that was built with accessibility in mind so, in theory, anyone from any department should be able to use it, with onboarding literally done in a few minutes.

Best UI design tools - Marvel

Marvel also lets you import and edit your Sketch designs, as well as giving you access to over a million stick photos, icons and other pre-made assets.

8. Penpot

Price: Free

Penpot is new to the UI design scene and is the first fully-open source UI design tool online for cross-domain teams. Fully web-based, Penpot is compatible with almost all vectorial tools and, best of all, isn’t dependent on specific operating systems and you don’t need to download it.

Best UI design tools - Penpot

If you’re on a tight budget and you’re looking for a free UI design tool that’s relatively easy to use, it’s worth giving a try.

9. FluidUI

Price: $8.25 monthly per user

Fluid UI is a UI design tool that places a large emphasis on speed and agility. They maintain that pre-built assets and a streamlined UI is tantamount to rapid designs. All of the tools you need are stacked as layers on top of each other and kept in one place for quick access to speed up the design process.

Best UI design tools - Fluid UI

Everything is neatly and tightly organized so that you should be able to design and share a screen in as little as a few minutes.

10. UXPin

Price: $19 monthly per user

If you’re looking for a tool where you can mix UI design and code, UXPin might be worth a try. It’s available on any platform and comes with vector drawing tools and interactive pre-made assets, but most uniquely of all – code components.

Best UI design tools - UXPin

In this UI design tool, you can automatically sync React.js components and even import HTML code and build on that within the tool. This is great for website designs and iterations on existing products. Of course, you can also import artboards from Sketch and add interaction.

Best Wireframe design tools

1. Justinmind

Price: Free forever

Again, we think Justinmind’s wireframe tool blows all other competition out of the water. Our tool lets you create interactive wireframes that you can preview and test on any device using drag and drop design. You can also enhance your work with Sketch, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop thanks to our integrations.

Best wireframe design tools - Justinmind

Justinmind is also free forever and, unlike other wireframe design tools, you can create unlimited wireframes for iOS, Android and the web, while adding all the users you like. What’s more, with Justinmind, you can be safe in the knowledge you’re using a wireframe tool created by one of the leading prototypers on the market with satisfied customers from the likes of Google, Adobe, Cisco, Verizon and more.

2. Balsamiq

Price: $9 monthly, per user

Balsamiq’s great as a low-cost option and for those simply looking for a tool with easy-to-learn features that lets them draw up basic wireframes in a few minutes.

Best wireframe design tools - Balsamiq

Balsamiq is perfect for sketching out ideas in a digital space and for brainstorming sessions. It comes with a drag and drop editor and hundred of UI components, as well as screen templates.

3. Mockflow

Price: $17 monthly per user

If you’re looking for a wireframe design tool with some variety, Mockflow lets you create everything from sketchy UI compilations to distinct outlines, to high fidelity wireframe designs. What we particularly like is its sharp revision history that goes hand-in-hand with their model of “draw, brainstorm, repeat.”

Best wireframe design tools - Mockflow

In addition to these handy features, this wireframe design tool also provides you with the ability to create wireflows out of your screen sketches, as well as coming with several different UI packs for quick iterations.

4. Wireframe|CC

Price: Free

Looking for a basic wireframe design tool that you can use to create quick doodles of screens with drag and drop elements? Wireframe.cc is completely for free and you can save your designs.

Best wireframe design tools - Wireframe|CC

The drawback? The doodles are, well, doodles. Any wireframes you create with this tool will just be very basic outlines; you can only draw basic elements such as lines, circles, squares and add text. There are no fast keyboard shortcuts and each element has to be drawn individually – there’s no copying.

However, for a quick brainstorming session and conceptualizing basic screen ideas with your team, this wireframe design tool is perfect.

5. Mockplus

Price: $199 annually per user

If you’ve been in the UI design industry for any length of time, you may well have come across Mockplus once or twice. It comes with quite the versatile range of wireframe templates to get design work started as fast as possible. All of these templates are fully-editable, allowing you to customize everything from fonts, colors, position and layout. You can also begin your own designs from scratch.

Best wireframe design tools - Mockplus

On top of that, this wireframe design tool also brings plenty of plugins into the mix – you can import designs from Photoshop, Adobe XD, Axure, Figma and Sketch. Our only gripe is that it’s a little expensive for what it is when you consider the alternatives in the market.

6. Cacoo

Price: $5 monthly per user

Cacoo is a wireframe design tool that lets you create wireframe outlines in minutes and organize all your team’s assets in folders shared on the cloud. It’s an excellent tool for presenting ideas and getting feedback. It also gives you the opportunity to explore document workflow, brainstorm with your team and create wireflows.

Best wireframe design tools - Cacoo

Of course, you also get access to many templates to help kick-start your screen designs. One thing that we’d like to see are perhaps more integrations and plugins, but for the price, one can’t complain!

Best Interaction design tools

1. Justinmind

Price: Free forever

Lastly – surprise, surprise – Justinmind tops the game, in our humble opinion, with respect to interaction design. With our tool, you can quickly and easily create web interactions and mobile gestures in a couple of clicks. Whether it be forms, microinteractions, parallax scrolling or dynamic data grids, you can design it using Justinmind.

Best interaction design tools - Justinmind

With drag and drop technology, all you have to do is drop an element on the canvas, add an event, then select a trigger and choose from a list of interactions, whether they be gestures, transitions or special effects. That simple! On top of that, if you’re strapped for time, you’re also free to choose from thousands of pre-designed components with built-in interaction or take things to the next level by adding advanced conditions to your interactions.

Lastly, if your plan is to put together some stunning artboards in Sketch or Illustrator, or some pixel-perfect images in Photoshop, you can import them into Justinmind and add interaction in just a few clicks.

2. Adobe XD

Price: $9.99 monthly per user

Adobe XD is excellent for animating your designs and even comes with an auto-animate feature letting you activate elements at the click of a mouse. It makes a great accompaniment to all the other tools that belong to the Adobe suite, for example, for animating graphics from Illustrator or images from Photoshop.

Best interaction design tools - adobe xd

Another cool feature of Adobe XD is the ability to showcase design work in 3D, which is great for perspective designs showing depth, layers and different rotational views. This also is a great benefit when it comes to AR/VR presentations of your work.

Like many Adobe products, the learning curve can be quite steep at first, however you have access to a range of free tips and tutorials. If you’ve got the time, that is!

3. Protopie

Price: $11 monthly per user

Protopie is an interaction design tool that lets you create dynamic interactions and share your work on their cloud-based server. What’s marvelous about this tool is that you can go into really intricate detail by applying easing functions as well as using Cubic Bezier and Spring to create natural, refined movement and animation curves.

Best interaction design tools - Protopie

They also prize themselves on voice interaction design, with text-to-speech design available in 40+ languages. And in case you were planning on designing voice interactions for a driving app, Protopie lets you simulate your designs using external devices like the buttons on the Playstation Steering yoke.

4. Principle

Price: $129 once-off fee

Principle is an interaction design tool that gives you more control when creating interactions and animations. For example, you can set up a timeline in your designs that lets you make short work of animation tasks like easing, popping and bouncing.

Best interaction design tools - Principle

In terms of interaction, interaction, you have the freedom to experiment without being limited to merely pre-defined transitions.

In addition to that, you can import your artboards from Sketch and your designs from Figma in a click and start creating interactive designs with them immediately. The downside to Principle? If you’re not using a Mac, you can count yourself out, unfortunately.

5. Origami Studio

Price: Free

Open-source interaction design tool from Facebook, Origami Studio, lets you create adaptive and responsive layouts with interaction for free. It also lets you build a library of interactive components as well as adding animation and sound.

Best interaction design tools - Origami Studio

Interestingly, Origami Studio lets your designs access the haptic engine on native iOS devices, as well as GPS data and the gyrometer. Best of all, you can import images straight from your mobile device’s Camera Roll, in addition to live and recorded samples. Additionally, it’s easy to copy and paste artboards and layers from Sketch and Figma.

Best UI testing tools

1. UserZoom

Price: contact for pricing

UserZoom is a UI testing tool that promises you 537% return on investment. Let that sink in! This is probably because the tool has everything you need to test out your new UI designs, including click testing, remote and unmoderated testing, as well as the ability to tailor your plan so you get only the add ons you need to use.

Best UI testing tools - UserZoom

They also give you the freedom to source your own participants or to use their advanced search engine.

Check out Justinmind’s talk with Userzoom Product manager, Sarah Tannehill and UX designer Anna Barba about the role of data plays in improving the user experience.

2. UserTesting

Price: Contact for pricing

UserTesting’s unique selling point is that it doesn’t just allow you to record your user testing sessions, but also skips to moments where users struggled the most with your UI.

Best UI testing tools - UserTesting

In addition to that, you can also track the time spent on accomplishing each task, as well as add multiple choice, rating scale and open-ended questions into the mix. Did we mention you can also test on any device?

3. Hotjar

Price: $99 monthly

We couldn’t have a UI testing tool list without featuring the well-known heatmap testing tool, Hotjar. Hotjar lets you see things through the eyes of your users by showing what elements and parts of the screen their attention is directed at the most. It also lets you provide surveys to your users to glean extra context to the testing results.

Best UI testing tools - Hotjar

Another neat feature the tool has is a feedback feature that encourages users to leave emojis and comments on certain elements and features of your UI design.

4. Crazy Egg

Price: $24 monthly

Crazy Egg is a well-rounded tool that features all of the most popular UI testing methods, such as AB testing, scroll testing and heatmap testing and is cheaper than Hotjar.

Best UI testing tools - Crazy Egg

But they even go further than that by providing an extra unique feature – the confetti snapshot. This form of UI testing hones in on where the users focus on and targets the specific points of the screen where they click, hence the appearance of confetti.

Best of all though, despite all the features on offer for the great price, Crazy Egg also does custom-made plans so you can pay for the features you need.

5. Contentsquare

Price: Contact for pricing

ClickTale is a user testing tool that, in addition to providing click testing (as the name suggests), they also provide zone-based heatmaps and Struggle analysis. The latter shows you where users encountered friction. On top of that, this UI testing tool also provides you with customer journey analysis, along with a chronological breakdown of the actions a user performs.

Best UI testing tools - Contentsquare

One feature that helps ClickTale really stand out is the ability to create your own personalized dashboard through their Experience center.

Best Agile tools

1. Atlassian Jira

Price: $7 monthly per user

When it comes to Agile tools, Atlassian Jira is probably the best-known product on the market – we at Justinmind use it to manage our sprints! And its popularity is understandable.

Best Agile tools - Atlassian Jira

It features everything you could need to manage your agile projects, such as scrum backlogs and kanban charts, in addition to burnout charts, cumulative flow diagrams, velocity charts, epic story reports and sprint reports.

All of these different reporting and workflow tools help to give a snapshot at any point in time of the status of all the projects a team is working on.

2. Asana

Price: $14 monthly per user

Asana is useful as an agile tool as it includes a whole plethora of features to help your manage your design projects, such as task templates and a project timeline, in addition to the typical kanban board system and backlog management.

Best Agile tools - Asana

However, one thing that sets Asana apart from the rest is that it’s clean UI is a pleasant relief on sprint-jaded eyes, with color coding available to tag each category with on a kanban board.

3. Monday.com

Price: $10 monthly per user

Monday.com, in addition to having a minimalist UI like Asana, is a very flexible agile tool. It includes multiple views of backlog lists, a kanban board feature, in addition to Gantt charts, project tracking, time planning and reporting.

Best Agile tools - Monday.com

It’s one of those tools that gives you a full 360 degree view so that you can manage everything in one tool.

4. Trello

Price: $9.99 monthly per user

Trello, as an agile tool, has an easy and intuitive user interface which has a relatively small learning curve. Like Asana and Monday.com, colorful boards, cards and lists help you to find your way around easily, in addition to their progressive onboarding feature.

Best Agile tools - Trello

But Trello’s best unique selling point? It has to be Butler, the assistant. With Butler you can automate processes, creating rule-based triggers, due date and calendar commands and more.

5. Wrike

Price: $9.80 monthly per user

Wrike is another easy-to-use agile tool where you can manage all of your UI design projects in one place with their cloud based project management system. Customizable workflows, dashboards, gantt charts and kanban boards help you keep your workflow in order and keep the team focused.

Best Agile tools - Wrike

Another interesting point to note is that Wrike also have integrations with Dropox, Google, Salesforce and Adobe Creative Cloud.

The take-away

It’s a long list, we know. But that’s because, as UI designers, our circumstances tend to differ and often change depending on the year, the project, the company or even the client we’re working for.

What’s important is that you choose the right tool for your technical needs and financial constraints in this moment. Don’t go for something with a huge learning curve if you’re strapped for time. But do make sure that if you’re choosing any tool off this list, whether it be a UI design or interaction design tool, that you cost it out appropriately and make sure it’s worth it the return on investment.

Thankfully many of them come with free trials, so you don’t have to commit to anything immediately. Happy window shopping!

Joseph Downs
In-house UX copy-slinger, foodie and classic motoring enthusiast