UI design is the process of building interfaces. Usually, they focus on the looks and style of interfaces and can include a variety of designs and software including watch screens, websites, voice-activated assistants, and more.
Thankfully, there are many different softwares out there to help with the variety of these designs, and many of them work for individuals or teams without any problem.
Where UX design focuses on the actual product design, both physical and digital, UI design focuses primarily on digital designs and prototypes, including animation, adjusting to various device sizes, and a lot of design research.
If you want to know more about UI design, including the very best of the design software, continue reading below.
What is the Best UI Design Software?
Having the right UI software can help a lot when it comes to creating prototypes. No matter what you are using UI design for, you can find a program that works best for your style and your needs.
Some of the best UI design software are:
In this article, we will discuss the top four UI design softwares, since they are widely thought to be the best, and throughout my experience in the game industry I came across many of them.
However, if those four don’t quite fit your preferences, definitely check out other softwares. While they aren’t widely considered the best, they are still good and have their own unique benefits that may benefit your needs better.
Adobe XD is a vector-based software. It has interface tools that are perfect to create a variety of different styles and prototypes for any design. If you’ve used other design products before like adobe illustrator, the setup should feel familiar.
They are focused on UI design and how the majority of ads and development happens online now. They work for app, brand, game, and web designs.
It is often considered a one-stop app, where you can do all the work from wireframes up to the time you hand it off to the developers. However, they also have the rest of Adobe Creative Cloud, so if more work has to be done, it can often be done completely in the software.
If you don’t want the cloud, that’s fine too, because Adobe XD is available for purchase itself, instead of having to buy the whole system.
It’s worth noting that Adobe did acquire Figma recently, which we listed here as our runner up, slowly Adobe is becoming a leader in the UI space so even if you chose another software its good to get acquainted with Adobe XD as you will probably come across it in future studios you will work for.
Adobe XD Key Features:
- Works for websites, apps, and prototypes
- Is perfect for workflows and creating various elements and transitions
- Has a Specs feature to make handing off your work to the next team easily
- Can prototype voice commands
- Most components work intuitively to make sure that you can make changes much easier.
Adobe XD User Experience:
Having a program that works on macOS and Windows is something we find important since our team uses a variety of different software.
When buying the cloud model, it is beneficial to be able to integrate the system so it can be moved between apps and teammates easily.
Sometimes it can be difficult to understand how the system works, especially if you haven’t used any other Adobe systems before.
There are three different modes which are design, prototype, and share. These allow you to switch between modes and viewing styles easily so you can see how your prototype is working.
Adobe XD Cost:
Adobe XD does offer a starter plan. This usually involves single documents. However, if you want to start getting more serious in your designs, you can buy their standalone tool for $9.99 a month, or get the whole Adobe system for $52.99 a month.
The Creative Cloud suite for $52.99 a month encompasses twenty different apps, including Adobe XD, so if you are thinking about using a few different products and apps from them, it may be worth getting the whole cloud.
However, if you don’t want to use everything, that doesn’t mean you have to waste $52.99 a month. The $9.99 option just gives you the Adobe XD product by itself, so you can get all the features you want for a relatively low price.
What We Like/Dislike About Adobe XD:
- It works on Apple and Windows products easily
- Making mockups and sharing them is very easy and intuitive
- The design is clean
- A good community that is quick to help with any questions
- No way to export projects to PSD
- If you don’t know the software, it can be hard to figure out the system
- Software gets a little funky when an upgrade is needed
- Not a whole bunch of plug-ins
- You Slowly get sucked into the Adobe creative cloud which costs a fortune
Adobe XD Scoring:
Despite its small flaws, Adobe XD is our favorite UI design software, so we are giving it a 9 out of 10. There is a little room for improvement, but the software has everything we could need for our design.
Figma claims to be the modern tool for interface design. It is an online tool that provides the ability to design, make prototypes, collaborate with others, and even hand off your work.
They focus heavily on collaboration, allowing for critiques, feedback, buy-ins, and even just having a team work together on the same project. With libraries, notifications, and shareable files, it is easy enough to work together.
It is a web-based program, which allows for cloud storage and lots of collaboration globally. This allows for a lot of real-time connections and work to make things go smoother.
Figma Key Features:
- Modern pen tools
- Arc designs like clocks, watches, and pie charts
- Plugins for almost everything
- Dynamic overlays with multiple layers that are interactive
- Shareable prototypes that can be viewed anywhere with an internet connection
- Advanced transitions that allow for animation and details
Figma User Experience:
Figma is easy to use in various ways and for many different projects. We find that this one is easily the most universal UI design software since it can make almost anything and has plugins for anything you might need.
Its features focusing on sharing and collaboration work very well in a professional setting as you can easily share prototypes with both clients and other workers so that everyone can be included in every step of the process.
Changes can be implemented easily as well.
Figma starts free. This is the perfect option for small groups or single designers. You get three Figma and 3 FigJam files, unlimited personal files and collaborators, a mobile app, and a variety of plugins, widgets, and templates.
Then there are three pricing options. You can get Figma Professional for as little as $12 per month. This allows you to get unlimited versions and Figma files. You also get sharing permissions, and team libraries as well as audio conversations.
Figma Organization gives you design analytics, branching and merging, a centralized file management system, and easy billing methods. This one is $45 a month.
Finally, there is the Figma Enterprise option. This is $74 per Figma editor per month and $5 per FigJam editor per month. This is for big companies. It assists with scaling, flexible controls, and advanced security.
What We Like/Dislike About Figma:
- Anyone can use Figma
- Since it’s free for a good amount of items, it is a great option for getting started or growing a business
- Collaboration is key, so it makes remote work and global connections easy and painless
- Everything is saved in the cloud so work is rarely lost
- Prototype creation is simple and very fast
- Unlimited plugins
- Ease of use
- Auto-layout and auto-animate features save a lot of time
- There is no offline version, so you always need internet
- Sometimes it can be laggy
- File management isn’t super intuitive and can be complicated
- User testing can’t be done in the program so another tool is still needed
- Leaving comments and feedback is a little complicated
This one gets an 8 out of 10. Though it works great for small teams and personal use, not being able to use it offline means it isn’t ideal for doing some quick work on the go, or remote work for those who don’t have great internet. Additionally, some heavier prototypes can severely slow down the system.
Sketch is a program focused on visual design. It works great for prototyping. It focuses on having more than just the basic UI design tools, it also works to make sure that every step of the process can be done in the software.
Collaboration can be done in real-time and the tools are intuitive and simple enough to use. Plus, users can test out the prototype on devices easily with a link or on various devices.
Sketch Key Features:
- Has an Application Programming Interface for integration with a variety of other platforms
- Able to handle various data synchronization
- Can invite clients to see and try out prototypes
- Can have collaborators work on specific parts of the program, or the whole thing
- Allows for designing and storing of symbols to be easily used again.
- Phone, email, and online chat is available
Sketch User Experience:
Sketch has a very powerful design that allows for the rapid creation of prototypes. The apps are stable and simple to use. It is designed by someone that is actually using programs like this and it shows.
Unfortunately, it has a major limitation, which is that it is only available for macOS software, and it isn’t usable on Windows. This limits the amount you can share the software or open it up to new users.
Additionally, it doesn’t work well at sharing your files from absolutely anywhere, and multiple people can’t easily work on the same file. It does have a clean interface, but collaboration features need a major overhaul.
Sketch allows for a free trial, with no card required, so you can give it a try without having to worry about money being taken out of your account. However, the prices aren’t bad.
You can get a standard for small teams or an individual for as little as $99 a year per editor. This option gives you a shared library for viewers and guests, an app for everyone, previews on phone, and a full Mac editor. This also allows you, unlimited free viewers.
Then there is the business option. This costs $20 per editor per month. You get all the same benefits that come in the standard option, but you also get single sign-on options, unlimited cloud storage, billing options, live chat with support, and security reviews that can be customized. For this one, you need a minimum of 25 editors, so it is an option for a fairly large company.
What We Like/Dislike About Sketch:
- Clean UI that is intuitive and perfect down to the pixel
- Command shortcuts reduce time and increase productivity
- Learning curve is steep but free of hassles
- Works with many other commonly used tools
- Universal shared assets
- Works well with presentation tools for clients
- Auto saves
- Only available for Mac
- Have to use a lot of plugins for basic uses and the main features are minimal
- Not much support for animation
- Keyboard shortcuts are different than the shortcuts for other software you may be using
Sketch is a fabulous software that is easy to use and can be very personalized. However, it has two glaring faults that make it a 6/10. The first is that it is only available for Mac, which means that large-scale teams are hard unless computers are purchased for them.
Additionally, Sketch claims to be very good with collaboration, but we have found that in practice it isn’t ideal. The software crashes a lot, especially when multiple people are trying to use it and the collaboration itself is pretty clunky compared to other programs.
InVision is designed for simple, easy work, so you can focus on working smarter and not harder. They have dozens of design templates, with many of them being from major companies like Microsoft and American Express.
There are also plenty of widgets to add more to your documents and designs. Everything you might need is right at your fingers, and you can embed almost anything right into Freehand including Google Docs and Mode dashboards.
It is set up so you can work from anywhere, and with anyone around the world easily.
InVision Key Features:
- Creation of wireframes and prototypes
- Standalone UX tools
- Works for any size company and customer
- All your favorite tools are built right in
- Easy to see problems and feedback at a glance
InVision User Experience:
InVision is well suited for immersing yourself in the app. Everyone can see the project in its entirety, without relying on the abstract to understand the vision.
This means it is easy to share with anyone else on the team and even other stakeholders, so they can see the process unfold and the actual potential.
It is more designed for simple prototypes, and not getting heavily into the design. It is a great way to explain the process to those that don’t understand much about design. But it does falter heavily when it comes to doing complex work such as animations and transitions.
InVision allows for four different price options. The cheapest is actually free. You can work on one project at a time. Then there is the starter option, which allows you to do 3 projects, and costs $15 a month.
Professional gives you unlimited projects and costs $25 per month. Finally, there is the team option. It costs $100 a month, but you can have up to 5 team members as well as unlimited projects.
What We Like/Dislike About InVision:
- Iterating wireframes is fast and easy
- User flow building is easy
- You can easily connect with most third-party applications
- Fully allows for real-time collaboration
- It is simple to access and send to anyone
- Can create plugins for more detailed design software like sketch to streamline updates and sharing of designs.
- Can really only do simple prototypes and design
- Most detailed design has to be done on a different software
- Not really a full UI software, but an accompaniment
- Some of the design and functionality of the software isn’t ideal
- Can’t create custom links and syncing issues can be difficult.
For InVision, we are giving it a 5/10. While it is a great software and has a lot of uses, especially when trying to keep stakeholders up to date and allow for an easy explanation of the design, it isn’t an all-in-one tool.
It still needs other design software to accompany it, such as the three we provided above. This means it has to have a bit of a lower score than the others.
Best UI Design Software FAQS
What Is the Best Free UI Design Software?
The best free design software would have to be Figma. It allows a lot of work to be done for free before you have to pay to upgrade and has a lot of features that are good for beginners and experts alike.
After that, we would probably say Sketch is the next best option. While it is only available on Mac products, it does have a lot of nice features that make it great to use.
Which UI Design Software Is Best for Games?
If you want to design games and want to pick the best tool for that, Adobe XD is one worth trying first. It has a lot of intuitive, powerful features as well as an easy setup and use. Additionally, being able to use the whole cloud for your design is very nice.
Figma and Sketch are also decent UI design softwares that work well for games, but they don’t have power and the cloud to back them up.
Which Language Is Best for UI Design
For the primary language, it depends a lot on your design style, or that of your company. HTML is good for formatting pages and structures, while CSS does more for specifics like color, opacity, and color.
However, UX and UI designs don’t specifically need coding. It can really help, though, and give you a leg up, so it doesn’t hurt to learn the languages more.
What Are the Types of UI Design?
There are three main types of UI design, though there are various other ones as well. The three most common though are graphical user interface (GUI), voice user interface (VUI), and menu-driven.
GUIs are used for the manipulation of visuals. They are good for findability and are easy to use and understand. Most of them should be uniform with others so they are easy to control and reliable.
VUIs are more recently a big deal and are quickly growing more popular. These are basically what create voice-assistants like Siri or Alexa.
They have a vastly different design approach though, where words and syntax play an important part instead of visuals. Some human psychology can be very beneficial as well.
Menu-driven is more simple, such as a drop-down or pop-up design or visual.
Best UI Design Software: Final Verdict
What were your thoughts on these top four UI design softwares? They are not only our favorites but vastly popular among other designers as well.
Again, if these don’t quite fit what you are looking for, there are plenty of others that might fit your needs a little more, such as the ones we mentioned at the very beginning.
However, if you are unsure of where to start, we recommend the Adobe XD software. It has a lot of details that make it ideal for a variety of different software designs, including gaming.
Plus, the connection with other programs in Adobe makes it easy to use and transfer without needing a whole lot of third-party apps.
Whether you are just starting out and working by yourself or creating with a large team of experienced designers, you will find that Adobe XD or any of the other softwares we discussed can be incredibly useful and adaptable depending on your needs.