A product designer’s job entails overseeing the design process of a new or existing product with the objective of creating positive user experiences and fulfilling business goals. Product design agencies know what a business’s target consumer wants and come up with products that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
The product design process involves identifying product vision, product research, user and market analysis, ideation, the actual design and, finally, testing. Product design can take anywhere from a month to a year. It’s a tedious process, but with the appropriate product design tools, it should be a little easier and more seamless.
In this article, we’re going to talk about some of our recommended product designer tools for various steps of the design process. This will give you an idea of which tools to get for your team or yourself if you’re a product designer.
Table of Contents
Best Product Design Tools for Digital Whiteboarding
We’re well aware of what an analog whiteboard is; we’ve used one for years. A digital, virtual, or online whiteboard functions precisely like it.
To put it simply, a digital whiteboard is a tool you can access on any electronic device where you can share graphics, annotations, videos, 3D models, interactive content, and other forms of media in real time.
Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Denver, Colorado, Whimsical is a virtual collaborative workspace where users can create documents, flowcharts, mind maps, sticky notes, and wireframes to improve the ideation process in product design.
Collaborating with your team is made easier with its drag-and-drop interface. Multiple members can simultaneously work on a document. You can also develop product design project plans on your own using markdown shortcuts in a focus mode. Editors can edit existing documents or create new ones, share folders for feedback, and provide access to guests for specific files.
- Starter: Free to use; with limited items to get started, real-time collaboration, and allows up to 10 guests for each file or folder
- Pro: $12 per editor per month ($10 per month if billed annually); everything in the Starter package, unlimited items for each workspace, priority support and allows more than 10 guests for each file or folder
- Organization: $20 per editor per month; everything in the Pro package, teams, SCIM, 99.9% uptime, SAML SSO, custom contract, flexible payment options
Miro is a digital whiteboard tool that helps designers collaborate particularly during the defining and ideation stages of the product design process. The platform is a popular choice among remote teams, especially for those using an Agile workflow.
This SaaS platform grew its user base to 30 million and its paid user base to 140,000. Some of its unique features include a vast range of ready-to-connect integrations like Notion, Adobe XD, InVision, and Figma. It also has a developer platform so you can build and customize with its API, iFrame, and SDK. Moreover, Miro has numerous templates for everything from user personas to empathy maps to product-market fit.
- Free: Unlimited team members, one workspace with three editable boards, a library of over a thousand custom-made templates, integrations and apps like Zoom, Slack, Sketch, and Google Drive
- Starter: $8 per member per month (billed yearly); unlimited and private boards, unlimited project folders, one-click collaborator access, built-in features like video chat, timer, voting, estimation app, and more
- Business: $16 per member per month (billed yearly); all Starter features, unlimited boards per team and client, allows unlimited guests on private and team boards, over 2,000 advanced diagramming shapes, Miro Smart Meetings
- Enterprise: Starts from 50 members, all Business features, license management automation with SCIM, high-grade security and compliance, a flexible licensing program for risk-free scaling, guaranteed SLAs, access to 24/7 premium support
Best UI Design & Prototyping Tools for Designing a Product
User interface design is the process where designers build interfaces and focus on looks and style to increase usability. UI design is a crucial step in product development. For one, when it comes to websites, a study by Forrester found that a well-design UI can increase your conversion rate by 200%.
Moreover, prototyping is the experimental part of the product design process where teams transform ideas into tangible forms. This refines and validates your designs so you can create the right products. In 2020, the product prototyping market was valued at $14.54 billion globally.
Founded in 2016, Figma is a go-to software for UI design. There are various factors to consider when designing a product, including product design types, templates, and colors; Figma can help you each step of the way.
The platform consists of two products: the design software called Figma and an online whiteboard called FigJam. It includes features like instant arc designs, a modern pen tool, and seamless prototyping.
Figma helps you come up with the best minimum viable product by allowing you to turn multiple solutions into prototypes, providing a wide range of design tools, and allowing teams to streamline their workflows.
- Starter: Free of charge forever; 3 FigJam and 3 Figma files, unlimited collaborators, unlimited personal files, access to mobile app
- Professional: $15 per editor per month ($12 if billed annually); unlimited Figma files, team libraries, audio conversations, unlimited version history, allows shared and private projects
- Organization: $45 per editor per month (billed annually); all Professional features, design system analytics, organization-wide libraries, centralized file management, single sign-on, unified admin and billing
This design platform is one of the most comprehensive ones in the market. It’s built for every step of the design process, from collaboration and ideation to prototyping and product launch. Although this platform was built for product designers, it’s easy and intuitive enough for anyone to use.
You can easily create prototypes out of your designs and test them out on your Mac app or browser via a link. It even showcases cross-platform tools and design libraries. Collaboration is made easy by modifying sharing permissions, viewing version history, and examining prototypes on any device.
Sketch doesn’t offer a free plan, but they do provide a 30-day free trial for you to get a feel of the software and see if it’s right for you. Once you’re ready to upgrade, you can choose from these two options:
- Standard: $9 per editor per month ($99 per year if billed annually);, perfect for individuals designers and teams, easy access to projects and documents, shared libraries, view version histories, unlimited viewers and guests, native Mac editor, preview on iPhone, real-time collaboration, works offline, a web app
- Business: $20 per editor per month (paid annually);, great for organizations with advanced needs, all Standard features, single sign-on, invoice-based billing, premium support, unlimited Cloud storage, customizable security terms and reviews
Best Product Designer Tools for User Testing
Before a product is launched, it has to undergo testing first. Research shows that 24% of product designers don’t conduct user testing. However, this should not be the case for your business. This step is crucial in creating a good product because it provides insightful feedback from real users.
Based in Paris and founded in 2018, Maze is one of the best product designer tools for user testing. With this product research tool, teams can test their prototypes faster via its built-in research participants, allowing them to make quick and data-driven decisions to enhance their products.
Maze eliminates the roadblock of finding users to test prototypes on by providing you with a pool of over 7,000 testers. They also provide various types of testing, including five-second testing and tree testing, so that you can gain more actionable insights.
- Free: great for individuals and small teams, includes 300 viewable responses per year, closed cart sorting, allows one active project and 10 blocks
- Professional: $75 per month (billed annually); all free features included, 1,800 viewable responses per year, 18,000 Reach emails per year, 10 active projects and unlimited blocks, open card sorting, pro templates, conditional logic
- Organization: custom pricing; all Professional features, unlimited responses, unlimited active projects and blocks, dedicated customer support, password protection, custom templates
With Marvel’s comprehensive software, teams can build and test out prototypes. You can upload designs and transform them into interactive prototypes within minutes. You can also collect audio, video, and analytical feedback on your product designs, which you can integrate before moving forward.
Marvel makes developer handoff a whole lot easier by automatically turning your designs into assets, specs, and code.
- Free: Starts with one user, one project, and one active user test
- Pro: $12 per month (billed annually); recommended for individuals, starts with one user, provides unlimited projects and three active user tests, allows you to download designs and prototypes
- Team: $42 per month (billed annually); recommended for small teams, all Pro features, starts with three users, 10 active user tests, premium customer support
- Enterprise: custom pricing; built for large organizations, all Team features, unlimited users and user tests, advanced security settings, single sign-on (SSO), invite-only projects
3D Design Product Tools Worth Mentioning
3D product design involves creating a three-dimensional or 3D version of a product. Here are some of the tools we think are worth your time:
- Blender: This CAD modeling software is free to use and is great for production design, video editing, VFX, and animation. This software is available on Linux, Mac, and Windows.
- SketchUp: If you want beginner-friendly 3D product design tools, SketchUp just might be what you’re looking for. It offers a free version, but if you like more features and unlimited storage, you can get the paid version, starting at $95 a year.
- Fusion 360: This is one of the many intuitive tools for designing a product. It provides a multi-functional program built for CAE, CAM, CAD, and PCB modeling operations.
Best Product Design Tools: Final Words
Whether you’re looking for the best product designer tools for developer handoff or the best tool for managing design systems, you’re sure to find one that suits your needs. Some tools that didn’t quite make this list but are worth mentioning include Mural, Adobe XD, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Axure, InVision, ProtoPie, and Hotjar.