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14 Best UI Design Tools for User Interfaces That Stand Out

Best UI Design Tools for User Interfaces

User interface (UI) has been one of the most important features of digital products since the internet came along. From simply interacting with a drop-down menu to creating sophisticated animations using specialized UI design tools to direct user attention in the right direction, UI design has become a multifaceted endeavor that goes from sketching to to the handover to the developers involves several steps.

The modern digital world offers a wide range of UI design tools. With powerful collaboration features and dedicated functionality, these tools help designers create UI elements faster and with less complexity.

Before we look at the best UI design tools, let's talk about the basics and answer a few key questions.

What is UI design?

By definition, UI design is "the process by which designers create user interfaces for programs or computerized devices, focusing on appearance or style."

UI design encompasses more than just graphical user interfaces and today also includes voice-controlled user interfaces, gestures and even AR and VR interactions. Because of this fact, UI design also includes screen layouts, transitions, animations, buttons, and virtually any static or dynamic visual element.

The main goal of a solid UI design is that every micro-interaction, no matter how small, is visually appealing, consistent, and functional. It is not enough that the application or page looks good; the elements must work together and align with a unified purpose. Put simply, UI design needs to look good and add to the functionality of the app or site.

Visually appealing UI design

Example of a visually pleasing UI design of an app by ozonestyle .
In contrast to UX design (User Experience Design), UI design is purely digital. This means that UI design does not refer to physical products and only occurs in the online digital world. Anything that involves physical products, interactions or appearances falls under UX design.

Since many physical products have a connection to the digital world (e.g. screens in a vehicle, interactive directions in a shopping center or even a smartphone), UI designs often complement UX design. In other words, both aim to make the physical or digital product easier and more intuitive to use.

Why should you care about UI design?

The choices you make within your UI design affect how users perceive your site or app. Therefore, a good UI design makes or breaks your project and influences the decisions your users make while using your site or app.

UI design leverages numerous psychological triggers and factors to create a visual design that serves the purpose of your site or application. These psychological triggers include color psychology, handwriting psychology, and behavioral science, among others.

Even without considering the psychological aspects, poor visual design and confusing interactions will put your users off. Therefore, it is in your best interest to ensure that your design is attractive, responsive and directs your users in the right direction. You can also apply UI design principles to any page and application. Even if you're building a website from scratch, you can plan your UI in advance or make changes afterwards if the need arises.

And when the time comes, here we have the 14 best UI design tools to help you create a great UI.

The Best UI Design Tools

  • Sketching and User Flows
  1. InVision
  2. Whimsical
  3. OmniGraffle Pro
  • Wireframing
  1. Balsamiq
  2. Justinmind
  3. UXPin
  • Interface Design und Prototyping
  1. Figma
  2. Sketch
  3. Adobe XD
  • Tools for Specific Purposes
  1. Storybook - Managing Design Systems
  2. GitHub - Versioning
  3. Maze – User Testing
  4. Zeplin – Developer Handoff

Sketching and User Flows

The first step in UI design is to sketch out the design elements of the page or application and lay out the user flow. While many designers prefer pen and paper for this step, digital tools offer the same experience as working with a whiteboard, plus the ability to collaborate with others to make ideation smoother.

Unlike offline tools, you can also use your favorite graphic design tools, word processors, and even Google Sheets at this stage. However, using a tool designed specifically for sketching and user flow processes will save you time, ensure a smooth experience, and help lay a solid foundation. In addition, many tools can also be used for the next steps of the UI design process.

Check out the best UI design tools for sketching and creating user flows.

InVision Freehand

Best UI Design Tools for User Interfaces

InVision Freehand is the equivalent of a real whiteboard with additional easy-to-use digital elements. Freehand is part of InVision's toolset, which you can use for prototyping, code inspection, and design system management. Nonetheless, user flow and sketching are the areas where InVision Freehand shines the most.

Freehand lets you brainstorm and create mockups with your team in real time. You can use pre-made elements and draw freehand to communicate ideas quickly and efficiently. Freehand also works seamlessly with other popular collaboration and design tools, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Sketch, and Photoshop.

Best Feature: Real-time collaborative freehand drawing

Cost: Free plan available; Paid plans start at $4.95/month

Skill Level: Beginner


  • Real-time collaboration with live presentation
  • Free plan with all features
  • Can be used with other collaboration and design tools

  • No native app
  • Can quickly become confusing.


Whimsical is a UI design tool best suited for product specification, idea generation, and designing user flows. It features simple commands and a clean user interface, perfect for real-time collaboration early in the UI design process. It's also extremely beginner-friendly, which means that colleagues who aren't that familiar with UI design can easily contribute.

While Whimsical lacks free-writing tools, it lets you add charts, which speeds up the whole process and keeps the structure clean. Additionally, you can also use this tool to create wireframes as the next step in your UI design process.

Best Feature: Add charts with one click.

Cost: Free plan available; Paid plans start at $20/month

Skill Level: Beginner


  • Real-time collaboration
  • Simple controls and functions

  • Gets expensive with a larger team
  • No freehand options

OmniGraffle Pro

Best UI Design Tools for User Interfaces

OmniGraffle Pro is one of the Omni brand design tools. It can be used to create easy-to-understand diagrams for user flows and sketches with vector graphics.

This design tool has some outstanding, modern features that make idea generation easier and clearer, even for inexperienced designers. You can use quick tools and alignment tools to arrange your user flow, use drag-and-drop features, and collaborate with others. The latter is relatively limited compared to other sketch stage tools.

Best Feature: Precise positioning and quick tools

Cost: Starting at $12.49/month with a 14-day trial

Skill Level: Beginner


  • Grouping, quick tools and alignment tools
  • Drag and drop capabilities
  • Visually appealing and clear

  • For Mac and iOS only
  • Limited Collaboration


Wireframing is defined as “a way of laying out the basic structures of a website. A wireframe is commonly used to arrange content and functionality on a page based on user needs and user journeys.

This is the next step after brainstorming, where the basic sketches and user flows are defined. During the wireframing you create basic pages and screens for a smooth user flow. Put simply, wireframing is creating unique looks and outlining the functionality for each step of the user flow and your page or application.


Best UI Design Tools for User Interfaces

Balsamiq is a dedicated wireframing tool for websites and applications. It can be used to create rough wireframes that resemble sketches on paper. The tool is designed so that you don't get bogged down in this step and instead focus on structure and content.

A great feature is that you can create sketch-like elements which you can later turn into handsome components. This is especially handy for stripping down the wireframes to the essentials without a lot of detail and creating a clean and uncluttered presentation when you're done.

Balsamiq offers three options: a built-in Google Drive app, a cloud app, or a native desktop app. So, it's flexible enough to accommodate your designs and collaborations. This UI design tool is suitable for beginners and companies alike and for different audiences.

Best function: It can be switched between skizzle look and presentation look

Cost : Starting at $9/month with a 30-day trial period

Skill Level: Beginner


  • Unlimited wireframes and users
  • Drag and drop capabilities
  • Interactive prototypes can be exported

  • Cloud plan is limited to 2 projects
  • Integration with collaboration tools (Google Drive, Jira, Confluence) costs extra


Although Justinmind is primarily a prototyping tool, it really shines with its built-in wireframing tool. This UI design tool has a large library of ready-made wireframes for web and mobile apps, which makes the whole process much faster and more intuitive.

Since Justinmind also has prototyping tools, you can already wireframe test all mobile gestures without having to go to the next step in your design process. You can choose a base, drag in the elements and test your ideas.

Justinmind has customization options for all UI elements, including the predefined ones. You can also use guides to perfectly arrange the elements and align them with others. Additionally, it integrates with other popular graphic design tools like Photoshop and Illustrator to import images and graphics seamlessly.

A bonus is that you can also use Justinmind to hand off finished designs to developers.

Best Feature: Mobile gestures can be tested in the wireframe

Cost: free plan available; Paid plans start at $19/month with a 15-day full-feature trial

Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced


  • Unlimited wireframes and users
  • Drag and drop capabilities
  • Export of interactive prototypes
  • Integration mit Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch etc.

  • Can be expensive with a large team
  • Limited storage space


UXPin is a similar tool to Justinmind in that it is another combined wireframing and prototyping tool. The difference is that UXPin also allows for design systems, collaboration and developer handoff, making it an all-in-one design tool.

While all parts of UXPin are solid, the wireframing in particular stands out. You can quickly create wireframes with UI components and custom elements and collaborate with your team in real time. There is also an option to collect user feedback on the wireframe design before you start prototyping. The latter can save you a lot of time on revisions if you get the feedback directly during the design process.

Best Feature: Collect feedback while creating the wireframe

Cost: starting at $19/month with a 7-day trial period

Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced


  • Real-time collaboration
  • Fast creation of wireframes
  • All-in-One-Tool

  • Expensive

Interface Design und Prototyping

The final major step in the UI design process is the prototype phase. In this step, the created wireframes and static layers will be brought to life with transitions and triggers. This is where you test your entire design and revise it if something is missing or needs improvement.

You can prototype your designs with special tools that let you add transitions for user input, such as tapping to go to the next page, scrolling to view additional images, etc. This stage is the most technical of all, as it involves in-depth knowledge about user interactions and UI design requires.

Let's look at some tools that are best suited for this.


Figma is an all-in-one tool that you can use to sketch, wireframe and prototype, and even manage design systems. As with other general-purpose tools, Figma's strengths lie specifically in UI design development and prototyping. Other than that, it lacks proper vector tools and is browser-only, slowing down projects with many pages and lots of media.

You can easily connect UI elements together and choose interactions and animations between frames. Each interaction can also be customized with click, tap and swipe gestures. You can also use artboards to create unique and dynamic UI elements.

With Figma, you can also let users test your designs during the research phase and observe them doing so. This means that you can already collect feedback from real users before you move your design to the testing phase. This creates a clever synergy between designers and users to take design to new heights.

Best Feature: Observe test users during the research phase

Cost: free plan available; Paid plan starts at $45/month

Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced


  • Comprehensive free plan
  • Cloud-based real-time collaboration
  • Flexible Artboards
  • Works well in most browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge)

  • Limited vector tools
  • No desktop app


Sketch is a familiar name among UI designers. You probably won't find anyone in the UI design field who has never heard of or tried Sketch. While you can use this tool for different steps of the UI design process, it's most valuable in the prototyping phase.

Sketch has easy-to-use tools and smart guides that allow you to create working prototypes. You can also use the Mirror extension to see all the changes you've made on a real iOS device. Sketch also has vector capabilities that allow you to create graphics without having to switch to another program.

A bonus is that you can easily work with developers who can review these designs, measure layers, and download production-ready assets.

Best Feature: Real-time editing on real iOS device

Cost: starting at $9/month with a 30-day trial period

Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced


  • real-time collaboration
  • Native macOS application
  • Comprehensive integration

Moderate learning curve
Supports iOS and macOS only

Adobe XD

Adobe XD is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, but you can also buy it separately. Because Adobe XD is purpose-built for prototyping, don't expect anything more than that unless you decide to go full Creative Cloud.

Since the focus of this tool is on prototyping, it also has all the functionality needed for this phase. You can create interactive prototypes and test them directly on various devices. Prototypes can be implemented with various single-click elements that speed up the process. There are also nifty 3D transform tools that let you take a closer look at each design layer.

Adobe XD integrates with other Adobe applications and has over 200 plugins to personalize your experience and adapt the tool to your needs. You can also create custom APIs to tailor the tool to your preferences.

Best Feature: Rendering 3D layers

Cost: free for private use; Paid plan starts at $9.99/month

Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced


  • real-time collaboration
  • Seamless integration with Adobe apps
  • Works on macOS and Windows
  • Fully featured free plan

  • Purchasing the Creative Cloud can be expensive
  • No editing tools for graphic elements

Tools for Specific Purposes

Aside from the main UI design tools, there are also secondary tools for specific parts of the design process. Their main purpose is to make a single step as smooth as possible, thereby making the entire design process more efficient.

In addition to the three main steps of sketching, wireframing and prototyping, there is also managing the design system, versioning, user testing and developer handoff. While some of the tools mentioned provide the ability to implement some of these steps within the application, there are also specific tools that you can use to do this.

Let's check out some of the secondary UI design tools that can also speed up your UI design process.

Storybook - Managing Design Systems

Storybook is an open-source tool for managing design systems and creating UI components. It makes structuring different parts of the design system less complicated and tidier. You can use this tool to ensure you're only working on one UI component without affecting the rest.

Storybook can automatically create style guides, making documentation less complicated. You can reuse the documents and automatically test your components to avoid potential bugs. With additional extensions, Storybook can also help you design responsive layouts and surface accessibility issues.

The integration works with popular frameworks like React, Vue, Angular, Web Components, Ember, HTML, Mithril, Marko, Svelte, Riot, Preact, and Rax. As an added bonus, you can store each use case in pure JavaScript for access during development, testing, and QA.

Best feature: isolated testing of the UI components

Cost: free

Skill Level: Advanced


  • Extensive plugin and add-on library
  • Open-Source
  • Extensive framework integration

  • Steep learning curve

GitHub - Versioning

There can be multiple versions of a given UI element during the design process. It's not uncommon to go back to an older design and use that instead of going with the latest. Therefore, it is necessary to store and organize multiple versions.

GitHub empowers your team to code, develop, test, debug and deploy. You can access GitHub from any device, making it a seamless part of your design process.

The tool has several collaboration tools. With them, you can easily notify your team or other developers about changes, accept their recommendations, and add multi-line comments. As for security, you can limit merging, require reviews, or allow specific people to work on a specific code or design.

GitHub also has automation tools you can use to save time and eliminate time-consuming tasks during your design process. You can customize an automation for releasing code, providing pre-built design elements, and setting up notifications for specific teams.

Best Feature: Instant code publishing in the cloud

Cost: free plan available; Paid plan starts at $4/month

Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced


  • Unlimited public and private directories
  • Unlimited employees
  • Powerful automation tools for versioning

  • Limited storage on the free and cheapest plan
  • Comprehensive private directory feature limitations on the free plan

Maze – User Testing

Maze allows you to remotely test prototypes, wireframes, and other page and application elements within your team. It offers an authentic, browser-based and device-aware experience so you can easily test your designs and features.

Maze offers various testing features such as Missions, Conditions, Open Questions, Card Sorting and 5-Second Tests. Another benefit of Maze is the post-test reports. You can create your own reports or use predefined reports without having to review the entire test session. You'll also get missed click reports that show failed interactions with your theme, and heatmaps that show where user attention is on your app or website. Both allow you to fine-tune your designs and make them more user-friendly.

Maze also integrates with Figma, InVision, Adobe XD, and Sketch. You can seamlessly test the designs you create in these design tools and collaborate with others across your organization to gain more insight and additional annotations.

Best Feature: Remote user-centric testing

Cost: free limited plan; Paid plan starts at $42/month

Skill Level: Advanced


  • Integration with popular design tools
  • Testing the design remotely
  • Comprehensive reports

  • Expensive
  • Limited features on the free plan

Zeplin – Developer Handoff

Developer Handoff is the final part of the UI design process. Here the developers take over the design files and code snippets.

Zeplin is the best tool for this handover and integrates seamlessly with Figma, Sketch, and Adobe XD. Zeplin makes it easier for developers to understand which versions are set without having to check it every time. That is why Zeplin acts as an intermediary between different teams.

The tool is easy to use for designers and non-designers alike and creates valuable synergy in your team. You can also create your own webhooks and workflows to further improve workflow and eliminate repetitive tasks.

Best Feature: Webhooks and custom workflows

Cost: free for a single project; Paid plan starts at $6/month

Skill Level: Beginner


  • full-featured free plan
  • various tools for automating workflows
  • Beginner friendly

  • Limited style guides on the free and cheapest plan
  • Limited integration options

Should I use one or more tools?

When considering the entire UI design process, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that can handle every part of the process. Sure, there's an all-in-one software you can use for different steps that works well, like Figma, but it might not compete with dedicated tools for a specific design step.

Every UI design tool has its strengths and weaknesses. If a multipurpose design tool excels in one area, that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it for other steps. Dedicated tools are better suited to certain aspects of UI design than the all-rounders. But spending money on many programs can get expensive.

Ultimately, whether you should use one tool or multiple tools comes down to your preferences and budget. And when in doubt, use the UI design tools that offer a free trial or limited free version so you can get a feel for the product and decide if it's right for you.

Choose the best UI design tools for your work

UI design is a multi-faceted endeavor, with multiple steps between brainstorming and final designs. The different steps of the process can be easily defined and tackled with dedicated tools, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages. There is no clear rule as to when to use which tool, and the choice mostly comes down to preference and budget.

What are your favorite UI design tools to work with? Tell us in the comments!

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