8 tools every UX designer needs in 2017

Your guide to the top 8 UX design, collaboration and web and mobile app prototyping tools to look out for this year.

Choosing the right tool for the job is so important, especially when it comes to providing the best experiences for users. Many of us will keep using the same tools once we’re comfortable — after all, we’re creatures of habit. But if we’re really to excel in the world of user experience, we need to be open to new ideas, new challenges, news tools. That’s why Justinmind has been doing some research into the best tools to get involved with this year: the top 8 design and collaboration tools of 2017. So go on. Explore, innovate.

Lingo App

Lingo is a macOS cloud-based visual asset library app that enables collaboration between creative teams. It allows you to store all your visual assets — be it JPEG, PNG, EPS, PDF / HEX, RGB or HSB — in the same place. With your visuals easily discoverable, you can drag and drop and copy and paste them into any kind of application: see, search, sort and use them at your disposal. The ever-evolving library syncs automatically, making it even easier to organize your visual language.

You decide the roles, kit access and permissions that each team member has and whether your libraries will be shared privately, with invited collaborators, or publicly, without login.

Pricing: from free up to $149/month with unlimited assets, up to 50 users an up to 100GB cloud storage.

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is a photo editing software that brings out the best in your digital photography. Use it to create, edit, organize and showcase your images with this sleek image editing tool.

What’s new in Photoshop this year? (Update Dec 2016)

  • Touch Bar: Photoshop now supports Touch Bar, the multi-touch display at the top of the new MacBook Pro keyboard.
  • Image templates: instead of beginning with a blank canvas, you can now choose from a wide variety of image templates from Adobe Stock. Templates include assets and illustrations that you can build up from to complete your images.
  • Enhanced search functionality: Photoshop now features powerful search functionality that lets you search across UI elements, documents, Help & learning content, inspiring Stock assets, and much more — all from within a unified dialog.

Pricing: Adobe CC from $9.99-$79.98

Image Credit: Photoshop

Xmind

XMind is a mind mapping software built to help you capture, visualize and manage ideas and promote team collaboration in software projects. The Pro version is cloud-based and offers a cleaner, quicker experience to mind mapping and brainstorming — and no pesky installation process!

Create all sorts from basic mind maps and business plans to Gantt charts and audio presentations. Use built-in templates to build up from themes and style guides that you’ve previously worked on, and then export and edit them to Office and Adobe or share them in the cloud.

XMind is a great tool for speedy design. It includes a selection of Markers to help teams give and receive feedback. Simply open a map, select your markers, and add your feedback without any typing needed. Markers include icons for task priority, emojis, flags, stars, people, arrows, and symbols.

Pricing: $99

Trello

Trello is project management at its finest. It’s a visual collaboration and list tool for planning tasks and projects that keeps track of everything from the smallest detail to the big picture. Available on web and mobile devices, Trello is a drag-and-drop Kanban card wall interface, with each card representing a project task, giving you a bird’s eye view of your project. This is a great tool for visual thinking. And, as Melanie Pinola on Lifehacker puts it: “it’s one of those few apps that actually balances both a simple, elegant user interface and powerful, flexible features.”

Read more on the success of Trello’s product design in our interview with their Enterprise product manager, Nikita Dyer, here.

Pricing: free version (free), business $9.99 a month, contact for enterprise

Zeplin

Zeplin is a Sketch collaboration plugin, bridging the gap between design and development teams by enabling design hand-offs in just one click. Designers can generate style guides and assets automatically and keep them up-to-date. It’s is integrated with team collaboration and communication tool, Slack, which means you can notify teammates about design changes instantly. It also supports Photoshop and Sketch, so you can work across platforms to make even more impressive designs. You can also export your assets to your favorite prototyping tools to work further on your designs there!

Use Zeplin to keep innovating, and spend less time on the tedious tasks, like creating specification documents. With Zeplin, you can reference designs on-screen, instead of having lengthy paper spec documents.

Pricing: free to $26 a month

Optimizely

Optimizely is an experimentation platform that provides user testing services, as well as customer experience advice for design and development teams. With users in the foreground of all work we do on the web, user testing is peaking. As Anthony Ha on TechCrunch puts it, Optimizely has helped to popularize A/B testing for iOS and Android apps, with users able to experiment with search results, product recommendations, pricing and loads more. A/B testing across web and mobile devices can be risky and tricky, with lots of details to take into account, but Optimizely makes things simple with a code-free visual editor.

Compared to similar testing tools, Optimizely comes out on top in a number of categories, including targeting ability, test reporting and segmenting and overall rating by users according to Rich Page.

Pricing: Plans start at $49 per month for ‘standard’ level (for 1000 visitors).

Crazy Egg

Crazy Egg is a heat map software designed to measure the hot spots on your website. Use it to get a better grasp of how your users interact with your website, and to improve conversion rates. This is a visual tool that rapidly analyzes and observes, giving you speedy and meaningful results that are easy to interpret.

Site clicks are sliced into search terms and referral sources, so you can choose to keep the things your users like and change the things they don’t. A scroll map indicates how far down people are scrolling and the movement throughout your site, allowing you to pin point the areas that need more work on the page, e.g. where your most important and relevant content should go. Crazy Egg is easy to use and integrate with your design and prototyping tools, rapidly measuring user interactions with static web content.

Pricing: $108/year

Justinmind

Justinmind is a low to high-fidelity, code-free web and mobile app prototyping tool with collaborative design features and centralized asset libraries. For design teams, Justinmind is ideal for collaboration, both between teams with its Teamwork features that allow users to work on the same prototype simultaneously, as well as with different design mediums. Import UI assets to and from your favorite design tools, including Sketch and Illustrator, and design your way, from basic wireframes to pixel-perfect prototypes.

Choose from a wide variety effects and animations to make your designs interactive and test on device to get the most out of your prototype. Visualize your user navigation flow in your interactive prototypes by simulating the scenarios that you’ve designed.

Pricing: from $19 a month

So there you have it! Our favorite UX tools of 2017. But don’t take our word for it — try out the tools yourself and give them a spin.