We’ve shared resources for digital product designers, but what about the tools needed to do the job? We have made a list of 21 product design tools you need to know about. These tools will help you increase productivity and improve your workflow. We created this list based on the experience of our designers and online ratings.
Sketch is a popular design tool and if you’ve been doing UI design for a while, you’ll surely be acquainted with it. It was started way back in 2010 by the co-founders, Pieter Omvlee and Emanuel Sá. They felt that designers were in need of a superior set of tools and set out to make that a reality.
Sketch provides real-time collaboration opportunities, powerful tools and an awesome macOS app. Handoff is hassle-free and you can download assets even without the Mac app or third-party plugins. Additionally, you can customise your workflow by choosing from hundreds of extensions and if that’s not enough, you can even build your own extension.
The biggest disadvantage that Sketch poses for users is that it exclusively offers an app for Mac systems. However, for those who are familiar with Mac systems, the interface is intuitive and easy to use. Check out their helpful guides to learn how to get the most out of their powerful tools and features. For individuals and teams, the monthly price starts at $9.
Figma is a great, all-in-one design platform for teams to collaborate on projects and build products together. When we did a poll on LinkedIn for designers’ favourite UI/UX design tools, Figma came out on top. It provides easy onboarding and a web-based solution for those who prefer it.
Figma’s objective is to “make design accessible to all”. Co-founder Dylan Field shared some thoughts in his post about the initial negative reactions when they launched Figma in 2015: “Feeling threatened by change is part of being human. It was only natural that moving what had previously been an offline, single-player experience into the browser would be a shock to many.” Years later, this seems a bit silly to think of pushing back on Figma since so many designers have come to rely on it for its design capabilities.
Editing, commenting, and sharing are all done in real time, saving you time and emphasizing their focus on collaboration. Many users find the interface easy to navigate and say that Figma is easy to learn or adapt to. However, others say that it requires a learning curve and can be tricky to understand. Another con that users pointed out was that being web-based, it has the potential to be slow if you’re working on massive files. It offers a free version with limited files. The “Professional” tier starts at $12/month per editor.
inVision Offers real-time collaboration like Figma but is less of an all-in-one option. To make up for this, it integrates easily with Sketch. It is used to create customer experiences and provides design tools to help teams get from ideation to development. Their Freehand feature acts as a virtual whiteboard for virtual teams. inVision Centralizes workflows, promoting collaboration throughout your process. It is perfect for individuals or big teams doing web and app design.
It was founded in 2008 by co-founders Ben Nadal and Clark Valberg based on the idea that great software must be built with a “collaborative process and an inclusive mindset”. This is reflected in features throughout inVision. It is highly rated on both G2 and Capterra and counts 100% of the Fortune 100 companies as part of its users. It’s free for individuals and small teams and for the Pro version, it is $7.95/month per active user for cross-collaborative teams.
AdobeXD is a comprehensive prototyping tool with frequent updates. Additionally, it is free even to those who don’t subscribe to Creative Cloud. This tool is a good option for designing app mockups as well as websites. It is intuitive for those who are already used to using the Creative Cloud. It offers many Plugins and is a versatile and effective tool for product design. Also, it is highly responsive along with the plugin capability, it has received a high rating as a UI/UX design tool. The subscription pricing begins at $9.99/month for individuals, which is the best choice since the free version is quite limited.
Marvel offers “rapid prototyping, testing, and handoff for modern design teams” with features to take you from an idea to the final product. Co-founder Murat Mutlu “hated not having an easy way to view [his] designs on devices and play around with them”, which is what lead to the creation of Marvel. Features include Prototyping, User Testing, Developer Handoff, and Integrations to enhance your design process. Integrations include Sketch, Jira, and Confluence. They have a free version for individuals and the Pro version starts at $9/month billed yearly. Users applaud it for being user-friendly and allowing users to make quick prototypes and wireframes and providing great customer support. However, users also say that it is ideal for small teams and smaller projects as it may not meet the needs of large, complex organizations and can be slow with large projects. The speed at which you can create prototypes is the main draw for a lot of users.
Whimsical offers several great features, one of them being Wireframes. You can create wireframes easily and very quickly. They have a rich library of elements such as buttons and inputs that you can configure to fit exactly what you need. Finding the perfect icon for your project is so easy with their search bar tool, where you can type what you need and retrieve the icon without needing to scroll continuously.
Collaborating is made simple with their real-time collaboration feature. You can work with an unlimited number of teammates at the same time on the same wireframe document. Offering features like this adds to their focus on providing a lightning-fast experience. You can also use keyboard shortcuts and quick lookups to increase efficiency as well. Their interface is clean and simple, providing all the features you need while not overwhelming you.
Whimsical is free to start and the Pro version starts at $10 per editor monthly. One thing you can feel good about if you choose a paid account is that they contribute 1% of purchases to fund next-generation carbon removal.
Balsamiq is another rapid wireframing and mockup tool. Their main mission is “to rid the world of bad interfaces” and has been that way since 2008! It all started with Peldi Guilizzoni – a former Adobe senior software engineer – who initially wanted Balsamiq to be a one-man company, but the market demanded more! Since 2008 the company has outgrown its one-man, bootstrapped beginnings.
At Balsamiq, they have made a tool that is meant to be accessible to anyone to allow even the most novice designers to produce great, low-fidelity wireframes. Essentially, Balsamiq mimics the experience of sketching on a whiteboard or notepad but on a computer, putting emphasis on the content and structure. You can also collaborate with your team and other consultants.
It is an ideal tool for fleshing out ideas and for anyone interested in starting UX design. They have 3 options for using Balsamiq: Cloud (web app), desktop app (both Mac and Windows), and a Google Drive integration. Depending on your preferences and your needs, there is an option that will suit you, with monthly subscription prices for the Google Drive option starting at just $50/year per user.
Colour & Font Tools
Toptal offers various utilities and tools, among them, ColorCode. It is a free, all-in-one tool for generating colour palettes easily. By moving your mouse across the screen, you can change the colours of the palette. Left to right movements change the hues, moving up makes the palette darker, and moving down makes it lighter. You can choose between several types of palettes including triads, analogic, and monochrome among others. Once you find a palette you’re content with, you simply click the screen to prevent the colours from changing and then download your palette. You are given several options to download and can even download the palette straight to your project. Toptal also has a colourblind filter that is worth checking out!
Gal Shir founded Color Hunt Palette finder in 2015. Initially, it was just a side project for sharing colour palettes between fellow designers. Now thousands of designers all over the world use it! You can see what is trending by clicking Popular or filtering the results to find a certain style palette. Like different palettes to add to your Collection. It is free and easy to use.
Another awesome colour tool to use. This tool has much more capability than Color Hunt and offers a wide range of options for creating colour palettes. It has 10 colour wheel options in Create, such as triad, monochrome, shades or a custom setting. They also have a contrast checker and the option to extract themes or gradients. By switching to Explore, you can find inspiration and discover existing colour palettes, or use their search bar if you’re looking for something in particular. In Trends you can see what is popular right now in all sorts of different industries. For example, browse the current colour trends in Fashion, UI/UX, or Graphic Design. It’s amazing how much you can do with Adobe Color, considering it’s completely free.
Coolors is another great colour sourcing tool that rose to popularity for its quick and easy colour palette generator. It is a comprehensive tool to use since it offers functions that go beyond just a simple colour palette generator. Fabrizio Bianchi a web designer and developer, is the creator is Coolors. With Coolors, you can create a gradient between 2 colours, explore popular palettes, check contrast, convert images and so much more. One of my favourite features is their Image Picker tool.
The Image Picker allows you to upload a photo and select colours from the image to create a custom palette. You can adjust the number of colours you want to extract and from there use the palette in a collage or save it for later. Overall it is a great tool that is both intuitive and versatile. For most people, the free version is plenty. However, there is a paid version that gives you more features and billy yearly works out to $3/month. Even better, 1% of profits goes towards supporting environmental nonprofits.
Grabient is a super simple color tool that helps you find the perfect gradient CSS code for your project. It allows you to change the colors of the gradient, the angle of the gradient, and add more colors. With a simple button, you can easily copy the CSS code to transfer it to your project.
Have you ever wanted to test fonts before buying them? Fonts Ninja lets you test three thousand different fonts in any design software before you buy. You can discover and explore tons of fonts to find the perfect one for your design. It only costs $29 per year and in addition to their paid feature, they also have a free Chrome extension. Using their Chrome extension, you can identify fonts, too. Simply rollover any text to see the font name and get the CSS properties.
Google offers a free, open-source font library with over 1400+ fonts. These font families and APIs are easily searchable and can be used via CSS and Android. Their intuitive filters help you narrow down your search to speed up your design process. Type your own test sentence to see what the font will look like.
Tailwind UI comes from the makers of Tailwind CSS, founded by Adam Wathan, and provides over five hundred ready-to-use, expertly designed component examples that you can drop directly into your Tailwind projects. You can customize these components however you want, and it supports React, Vue, and HTML. Every component is already fully reactive and looks amazing whether the screen is tiny or giant.
There are three main component sections: Marketing, Application UI, and eCommerce so you can easily find the component best suited to your type of project. To get access to all the components, get free updates and use the components on unlimited projects, you need to buy a license for Tailwind UI. The Complete package includes all components (Marketing, Application UI, and eCommerce) and is €239 for a lifetime license. They also offer separate licenses if you know you are only going to be using one facet of Tailwind UI, such as Marketing.
This is a UI kit for Figma that packs a punch. Matt Wierzbicki made this UI kit and released it in 2019, a few short months after the release of his initial 2018 Product Design Kit. This kit will surely save you countless hours spent on design with its intuitive, professionally designed, pre-made components and icons. It also has 2 themes, light and dark. Check out their overview video to get an idea of just how much you can do in a short period of time. The best option for individuals or up to 2 users is their Startup package, which gives you access to free updates, both the light and dark themes, and the UX tool kit for Figma for a one-time payment of $168 for Figma only.
unDraw is a creation by the illustrator Katerina Limpitsouni. You can browse hundreds of her professionally designed illustrations to add to your designs, products or applications. Using the colour tool, you can customize the colour of all the illustrations to suit your needs. It is completely free and quality work, a totally open-source license! Be sure if you use the illustrations to give a shoutout to Katerina on Twitter!
Noun Project is a huge library of awesome icons, icon collections, and photos for everything and anything. Sofya Polyakov co-founded Noun Project, which first launched in 2010. They have built a community of designers hailing from over 120 countries across the globe that have contributed to making Noun Project the most comprehensive and diverse collection of iconography out there. Icons are globally understood and create a language that is understood by the masses, unifying us all, something that Noun Project is passionate about. The free version gets you millions of icons and photos, and with the paid version you’ll get even more usability! If you’re not up to paying the $39.99 yearly subscription, pro icons are $2.99 per icon downloaded. The best part is that they have a 50% discount for students and educators, which works out to $19.99 yearly for no ads, unlimited icon licenses, editing/customizing abilities, and more.
This is another massive UI kit with over 600 MUI symbols created specifically for Figma. All of the symbols, plus over 1000 icons are high-quality and customisable to your liking. This pack will save you lots of time so you can deliver faster since you can browse and customise easily and quickly apply your product branding, too. The license for individual designers is $69 with updates for one year. View their live preview to get a feel for the kit and to see just how much it has to offer.
Another great resource for icons for designers and developers alike. You can download from a collection of thousands of icons in any format, colour, or size. You can upload your icon designs as well to contribute to the ever-growing collection. Additionally, if you just can’t find what you are looking for, you can suggest an icon idea. It is simple and straightforward.
This is a library full of shining examples of SaaS UI design. Rakesh Mondal started saasui when he struggled to find one place to get inspiration for his design work. This frustration led to the creation of saasui. You can find inspiration from the collection with examples like Zapier, Productboard, Calendly, and so many more. saasui Provides a collection that is sure to spark inspiration and help you with your design process.
That wraps up our list of 21 product design tools you need to know about. Surely you are familiar with some of the tools and can affirm their usability and effectiveness. If you can, leave a comment and let us know what you like or dislike about these products!
If you need a hand with UI/UX, feel free to book a call to speak with an expert product designer. We will share recommendations and see if we are a good fit for what you need help with.