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A growing number of designers tend to see pen & paper prototyping as a slow and arcane process. Yet less than a decade ago, most prototyping was done using pen & paper, and for many, it remains a favoured prototyping method.

As with so many things, the digital is changing the prototyping landscape, the speed with which design teams arrive at their conclusions, and the quality of feedback derived from user testing.

The rise of digital rapid prototyping applications is changing the way developers are thinking about prototyping processes. Designers can now start building UX earlier in a product's lifecycle and acquire real results around prototype testing.

Main benefit of using these tools is to better bridge the gap between designers and developers, allowing for better communication between the design and coding teams.

A catalyst for these new tools is Lean UX — the process of quickly framing ideas and solving design challenges without relying on style and pixel perfection.

The number of applications available for UX prototyping is substantial. Web Tools

In recent years, the evolution of front-end technologies and the popularity of cloud software have prompted a move from stand-alone applications to web-based tools. Web tools are ideal for sharing and viewing prototypes with a variety of stakeholders.

When evaluating these tools, it is important to think about project objectives, team size, workflow, technical understanding and support.

All of the tools mentioned here are free to try. Emily Schwartzman at Cooper provides in-depth research on prototyping tools.


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