There are tons of prototyping tools out there. I find new ones on a daily basis and, even though competition is good, I can’t wait for a standard to emerge. None of the ones I tried (not too many to be honest, but a good number) has the feeling of a fully fledged professional tool. Each of those has some little quirk and bug and missing feature that push you to try another one and see if you can finally fall in love and share your new amazing relationship within your professional network.
Most of these tools are made by startups (or small teams within a big company), but apparently the big guys (I’m looking at you Adobe, but also at you Bohemian Coding) are not really invested into this category of product.
InVision made Studio which tries to combine the UI designing workflow of Sketch with the interaction/animation prototyping of Flinto/Principle/…, but it doesn’t feel it’s there yet. At the time I’m writing this, InVision Studio it’s still in its long-lasting beta version.
The guys at Prototypr.io made a useful visualization to keep track of the tools out there and how they compare one another.
At the moment, ProtoPie stands as the fastest in the hi-fidelity range and it’s also the tool I chose to test lately, after some time spent on Flinto (which I still kinda like)
Still, for some crazier, more elaborated stuff, After Effects is a viable choice for a non-interactive demo (aka “a video”).
It’s a complicated software to master, but you don’t need to know it A to Z for most of your interaction needs. It’s not meant to be used for this sort of things actually, but neither was the Bic ballpoint pen to rewind cassette tapes, yet it worked like a charm.
Now, you’re probably wondering why, with all that many specific tools one should consider using AE. Well, my point here is simple:
All those tools were made with the current interaction needs in mind. They have been made to be able to replicate as many interactions we’ve already seen as possible. BUT! But what if you want to do something “outside the box”? Most of those tool, as of now, don’t even let you rotate objects on their Z axis, for example (that’s why I like Flinto more than Principle). What if you want to experiment with something you normally don’t see? You probably can’t do it with any of those.
But be aware that this also means that these crazy, never-seen before, interactions or microinteractions, are quite possibly also harder to code. So once you move from the demo video to “real life coding” you should consider that you might have thought of something too hard to actually make (in that timeframe).
(To export animations made in AE check also this plugin by AirBnB )
So in the end, the best solution is probably to find the tool with the best ratio between learning curve/speed/interactivity and use that for most of the things, but keep AE handy for the times you need to shock with creativity.
What do you think? What’s your tool of choice? Do you use AE too? For what?
Let’s talk in the comment section and don’t forget to 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏