Which software is best for mobile app design - 10 best mobile app design tools
The selection of software for mobile application development and design has never been this wide. Yet, with the rapid diversification of choices always comes the rightful confusion.
The selection of software for mobile application development and design has never been this wide. Yet, with the rapid diversification of choices always comes the rightful confusion. Which tool should I choose? Which software is best for mobile app design? Which one is right for me and my business? And since the principle of “to each their own” is not likely to die out any soon, lists such as ours will continue to be in demand.
For many mobile app designers, the price-to-value ratio in a tool is the most crucial factor, and since the cost of creating an app drastically varies from platform to platform, it is vital to establish the key features you cannot go without. That’s why for each tool in our list, we note down its core features, pricing, free plans and trials when available, and its main pros and cons.
Best mobile app design tools in 2022
After carefully reviewing each tool, we present our Top 10 of the Best Mobile App Design Software you can choose this year. We hope you find one best suited for your needs.
Opens our list basically one of the best tools for designing mobile applications on macOS - Sketch. It has won many awards and remains one of the most popular choices in various design surveys. It’s a vector-based software mainly for wireframing and UI with one of the easiest layouts, enabling even the newly-formed designers to quickly pick up the speed.
Sketch’s key features include customizable tools for scaling and resizing, reusable elements, code export, instant preview, real-time collaboration, variable fonts, shortcuts, toolsets, and non-destructive editing. Main integrations: Zeplin, Jira, Abstract, Flow, etc.
Pros & Cons:
Lightweight with fast exports
A wide variety of plugins and integrations
Works only on Apple devices
For photo editing, you’ll need to integrate other tools
Pricing: two subscription plans - standard and business. Standard has a free trial, then it’s $9 per editor, monthly. Business plan is available per request, with yearly billing.
Figma is currently one of the most popular mobile app design platforms for Windows and macOS, the only main competitor of which is our previous contestant, Sketch. Figma prides itself on its extreme focus on real-time collaboration and allowing you to cover all your design needs from one place.
The main features are: real-time team editing and feedback for both design and prototyping modes, an online whiteboard for presentations, reusable libraries, project management tools, single sign-on, etc. Integrations include Jira, Slack, Trello, and Zeplin.
Pros & Cons:
Figma is web-based and compatible with all popular browsers and OS
Modern and straightforward interface
Auto-save to the cloud
Lack of offline support
Less internal resources than its competitors
High loading time
Pricing: has three subscription plans. Starter plan is free forever. Paid plans start with $12 per editor/month if billed annually.
Justinmind is another excellent tool for mobile application designers. Thanks to its free UI kits available on iOS, Android, and all desktop platforms, Justinmind allows code-less wireframing and prototyping from low-fidelity layouts to high-fidelity ready designs.
The most helpful functionality includes: an extensive widget library for navigation, annotations, and standard interactions, such as animations, linking, show/hide elements, etc. Other useful features assist with real-time collaboration and user testing. Integrations: Adobe, Jira, Sketch.
Pros & Cons:
Responsiveness and scalability
Correct representation of wireframes
Learning curve and a lack of tutorials on new features
Having a lifetime license requires more commitment
Pricing: there are subscriptions and perpetual licenses. A decent free version is available. Paid versions start at $9 per user/month (annually) or $245 per user if you buy a license.
Another capable mobile app design tool on our list - InVision - lets designers transform their initial layouts and prototypes into clickable vector-based UI. At the end of your work, you get either a fixed or a highly interactive responsive screen design.
InVision’s best functionality remains filled with flexible layers, whiteboards, version history, and an extensive resource library, including fonts, mockups, icons, and UI kits. Integrations include Google, Mode, Jira, Zoom, Loom, etc.
Pros & Cons:
Great support system for sharing and feedback
Design system manager
Insufficient inspect mode
Limited branching and versioning
Pricing: InVision has a forever free plan, and two paid versions - Pro for teams starts with $4 per active user per month (annual billing), and the Enterprise version is available per request.
Marvel is a great all-around app design tool for designers and non-designers alike, allowing them to collaborate smoothly. This platform works best at the early stages of the design process, and its intuitiveness gives room for even novices to quickly join in.
Marvel’s key functionality includes design specifications, cross-company collaboration, user testing, and ready-made wireframe templates. Integrations include Jira, Dropbox, Microsoft Teams, Sketch, Confluence, Keynote, and more.
Pros & Cons:
No learning curve - everything is easy to understand and straightforward
Mobile usability tests
Insufficient mockups design
No offline support
Pricing: Marvel has four types of subscription plans - Free, Pro, Team, and Enterprise. Paid one start at $16 / month if billed monthly. If billed annually, you can save up to 25%.
The XD product from software design and development giants Adobe is a smooth and efficient vector-based UI designing platform with almost any feature you’d want in this type of tool, making it a truly all-in-one solution. Adobe XD also promises the quickest transition from design to high-fidelity prototyping.
Key features include cloud sharing, auto animations, website mockups, drag-and-drop, auto transition. Main integrations: Jira, Slack, Zeplin, Miro.
Pros & Cons:
Photo edits from XD to Photoshop with full support
Uncomplicated UI and other design tools
Working with multiple flows can be problematic
Lack of proper exports of files to Figma and Sketch
Insufficient level of reusable components
Pricing: free 7-day trial, then it's $9.99 / month for only Adobe XD and $54.99 / month for all (20+) apps, including Photoshop and Illustrator.
A weighty competitor to one of the two main tools in mobile application design, Figma and Sketch, Axure is an exciting addition to the teams of experienced designers that value functionality and flexibility. It really shines in larger companies and enterprises with numerous features and intricate visual details.
Another exciting functionality includes the ability to choose the level of fidelity, portable files for collaboration purposes, and lots of interactivity tools. Main integrations: Jira, Sketch, Confluence, Figma, Microsoft Teams, and Slack.
Pros & Cons:
Great mockups and prototypes
Extensive community and lots of training available
Lack of templates
No plugin support
A bit complicated to learn compared to other tools on our list
Pricing: Three paid plans - Pro, Team, and Enterprise - starting at $25 per month/per user billed annually or $29 monthly. There’s also a 30-day free trial.
Next, we have Proto.IO, which can be the right choice if you are just starting out and need a simple tool for all your initial mobile app design needs. It has a minimal learning curve and is very intuitive when it comes to adding interactivity to your designs.
Key features: drag-and-drop, UI components that resemble native, and password-protection of your designs, which adds a layer of security during team collaborations. Integrations include Figma, Dropbox, Lookback, Sketch, Adobe XD, and Photoshop.
Pros & Cons:
Easy to use
Huge libraries with more than 1000 templates and 250 UI components
Occasionally slow performance
Some prototyping workflows can be a bit complicated
Pricing: 15 days free, then it’s at least $24 per month (paid annually) if you’re a freelancer or $40 per month for a startup. Paid plans also include agency and corporate versions.
UXPin is the right tool for designers and developers wanting to elevate their UX without using any line of code. It provides true interactions between design elements using logic and code components and interactive states, eliminating duplicates and unnecessary linking.
Most helpful functionality includes rapid prototyping, bulk editing through pre-built library components, version branching, design systems, and tons of built-in icons. Main integrations include Storybook, Git repo, Jira, Slack, and Sketch.
Pros & Cons:
Easy to share your mockups and projects
Live usability tests
Limited video integration
Lack of overall intuitiveness
No Illustrator integration
Pricing: two versions - Merge and Standard - each has its own subscription plans. Basic starts at $24 per editor/month (annual billing saves 20%). Almost every plan has a free trial.
Fluid UI caps off our list as another great prototyping tool for visually pleasing and functional mockups, prototyping, and wireframes. Best for small and medium businesses, as well as freelancers, this tool has a knack for speeding up the design process with its “all in one place” attitude.
Key features include drag-and-drop, built-in libraries, feedback management, on-device testing, live presentations, screen capture, gestures, and transitions. Integrations: Google Drive, Jira, Trello, Dropbox, and Confluence.
Pros & Cons:
Smooth online collaboration
Easily modifiable wireframes and interactive prototypes
Limited features in the trial plan
Design elements can float around on larger screens
Pricing: Free-forever plan for one project and one user license. Fluid UI also has 3 paid plans - Solo, Pro, and Team - the least expensive one starts at $8.25/month or $99/year if you pay annually.
Best Free Mobile App Design Software
A few of the free (or mostly free) tools have already made it into our Top 10 Best Mobile App Design Tools above, but what about the rest of them? Some are still worth your time if you don’t want to splurge on something big. These next four platforms promise to also get the job done without hardly any financial commitment demands.
Best suited for small businesses in the hospitality and eCommerce industries, Appy Pie is a great free tool for designing and developing functional and UX-oriented mobile applications. Tons of templates with various levels of customization prove this software packs a great deal of value even without costly subscriptions, even though there are three paid versions to choose from.
The next one is a handy free Google’s UI toolkit called Flutter, which is able to design and develop native, desktop, and web apps with a single codebase. For the design part of app creation, this open-source tool has included multiple widgets for customizing such important UX components as icons, fonts, and navigation.
This last tool in our list is a platform that lets you almost effortlessly transform your existing website into relevant to your business mobile app without any coding. The design process is exceptionally user-oriented, and you get a customized native Android or iOS application pretty quickly. The process is free; however, you’ll need a paid plan to publish your app.
Mobile app design software limitations
Just as every other software out there, mobile app design tools also have their limitations. While the perks are pretty obvious - cost-effectiveness, practicality, no-code, easy collaboration among different team members, fast results, and many more - the disadvantages should also be noted.
The most frustrating limitation is the inability to change and customize the templates. Even though some app builders offer more than hundreds of colorful ready-made themes and templates, after a while, especially for experienced designers, a lack of even little custom changes that show the person’s own creativity can be discouraging.
Another similar restriction is a fixed code and structure, in some cases even content, mainly with a free subscription. Some teams are explicitly looking for a no-code environment, but for others to create a truly unique and functional design, structure and code modifications are essential.
The most irritating limitation in these application design tools for those designers that have an elevated sense of individualism and originality is that the finished product is not entirely your own. Even some rights and privileges can be revoked if the company that issued the tool has decided so (highly unlikely, but the reason still stands).
Other limitations include the need to be stuck to one platform, occasional restrictions in third-party integrations that depend on the tool you’re using, and last but not least - some subscription plans can be unjustifiably high.
Mobile app design outsourcing
We now know why using ready-made tools for app design can be beneficial, as well as some limitations that come with the territory. But what about outsourcing? You know, that thing when you hire another company or agency with a team of professionals to do the work for you. Let’s go through the pros and cons of this decision.
The main advantages of mobile app design outsourcing are:
- Saves you money on hiring in-house designers (plus time since there’s no need for onboarding)
- Faster results that stem from the other company’s related experience and competence
- You can keep your company’s other processes on track without distracting yourself on design and development
- Better quality of work
The disadvantages, however, include:
- Delays in communication since both teams need to relay information remotely
- Not having a 100% control over the process
- Risks that come with sharing confidential information with a third party
- Exaggerated expectations
We know that searching for a reliant “multitool” among the myriad of design and development software can be exhausting. Finding something that will fill all or most of your requirements is not a one-day job. Thankfully, almost every tool on our list has a free trial. That way, you and your team can try out different platforms without having to commit right away.
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