‘Prototyping’ refers to the activity of creating early, quick and usually incomplete versions of a website or web application. A prototype (also known as a wireframe or mockup) can range from being very crude to being highly interactive, and allows the developer to explore a variety of ideas before taking the time to implement them. One of the main benefits of prototyping is to obtain early feedback from potential users, and from other members of the design team.
The process of prototyping usually begins after first identifying a basic set of requirements. However, in some situations the prototype itself can be used to help identify requirements. As you obtain more information about the proposed website or web application (usually through interviews, evaluations and testing) the prototype will be changed and improved.
We divided all of the tools into three categories:
- Web Only
- Mobile Only
- Web and Mobile
You either can evaluate all tools in all categories, or filter down by first selecting the items in one category. You then can sort the items in that category by using one of the following six criteria:
- WebRank Stats (Best to Worst)
- Google Page Rank (Best to Worst)
- Alexa Site Rank (Best to Worst)
- Cost (Low to High)
- Offers a Free Version? (Yes or No)
- Provides an Overview Video? (Yes or No)
For example, if you first select the Web and Mobile tools, you will see that 12 of the 35 tools listed on the site (webusability.com) can be used for both web and mobile prototyping. If you sort them by clicking on WebRank Stats, you see that the most popular prototyping tools are Dreamweaver and Visio. However, this is because both Adobe and Microsoft have many products using the same URL. Axure, however, has its own URL, and is ranked next on the list.
We suspect that Axure is currently the most popular tool in this category, and even though it is clear that both Visio and Dreamweaver are popular, it is difficult to know how Axure, Visio and Dreamweaver rank against each other. When we consider the cost of the top three tools, we find the following:
- Visio – $300 License
- Axure – $289 License
- Dreamweaver – $50 per month
The next tool on the list is Balsamiq, which has a more modest price of $79.
Next we consider which of these tools have a totally free version. We find that both Lumzy and Napkee are free. Remember, to find out more about each tool, or to purchase or download a tool, simply click on the tool’s tile.