Which is the Best Prototyping Tool with the Lowest Learning Curve?

How much time should we spend on learning prototyping tool? A month, a day, or just few hours? You simply don’t know what you will learn before building and testing a prototype. So the faster you can get it out, the better. We have experimented with a lot of prototyping tools out there and I’d share what we’ve learned. We’ll compare three prototyping tools in terms of the learning curve. Hopefully, this would save you some time if you’re just getting into prototyping and wondering which tool you should use.

Axure: Well-rouned prototyping tool with steep learning curve

Axure has been known to the professional user experience designers. There is no doubt that it is one of the most popular and robust prototyping tools around. In terms of static wireframe for website / mobile application, it’s relatively easy to pick up and start using. However, when it comes to interaction, the learning curve is fairly steep as one has to learn how to make cases to perform specific interactions and animations. Strict logical thinking skill and programming knowledge are required to master it. It could be daunting for new users. Interactivity is really where Axure comes into its own, but the dynamic panel, repeaters, cases, actions, conditions, variables and functions are quite complex and time-consuming.

What are the requirements?

  • Project experience
  • Programming knowledge is required
  • Detailed tutorial or professional training is required if you would like to build complicated interactions
  • Steep learning curve

Deliverables:

  • Medium to high fidelity prototype (in terms of interactivity )
  • Medium fidelity prototype (in terms of visuality)

Mockplus: Prototyping is fast, tool is easy to learn

 

Mockplus is new, but shows promise as a rapid prototyping tool. During my initial learning with Mockplus,I was able to build a prototype within 30 minutes without going over tutorials and training manuals. It comes with a huge standard library of components and vector icons, allowing one to get started quickly. Is it difficult to build interactive prototype with Mockplus? I have no programming knowledge. What should I do? Take it easy!Mockplus provides a set of advanced interactive components, such as Popup Menu, Sliding Drawer, Image Carousel and Popup Panel. The interaction design in Mockplus is fully visualized, that’s WYSIWYG. Impatient jerks like myself can build an interactive prototype easily with drag-and-drop. I really like how easy it was to learn and prototype. I wish it has more support documents. It would be nice if the interaction functionality is more robust.

What are the requirements?

  • Project experience
  • No programming knowledge is required
  • Master it without detailed tutorials
    Low learning curve

Deliverables:

  • Quick wireframe and sketch
  • Medium fidelity prototype (in terms of interactivity )
  • Medium fidelity prototype (in terms of visuality)

Balsamiq Mockups: Simple and easy to learn wireframe tool

Bassamiq Mockups was started in 2008 in California. It is the pioneer of hand-drawn style prototyping tool and reproduces the experience of sketching on a whiteboard. What I really like is dragging and dropping, plus the learning curve which is not steep. Balsamiq is a simple wireframing tool, which means it cannot be used to make interactive prototype. When it comes to mobile wireframe, Balsamiq is not competitive as it does not support app prototype design and previewing on mobile. Overall, if you are new to this field, I recommend using Balsamiq for it’s low learning curve and ease of use. I rarely use this tool now since I was aware that the“sketch” style is not as flexible as pen and paper and the function is not as robust as Axure/Mockplus.

What are the requirements?

  • Project experience
  • No programming knowledge is required
  • Master it without detailed tutorials
  • Low learning curve

Deliverables:

  • Quick wireframe and sketch
  • Static and low fidelity prototype

Conclusion

Taking full advantage of tools will boost your productivity, but it is not easy to master a tool. Importantly, time is always finite in actual work. Thus, I perfer an easy-to-learn prototyping tool which will save me much time and efforts. Instead of spending too much time on learning a tool, I think we should put more efforts on improving user experience and product design.

You may also like:

 

1. 5 Golden Rules about Lightweight App Design

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