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Tools that make designers’ lives easier

Riley Cullen's Layout avatar

When you’re deep in the throes of new design work, it can be easy to simply resort to the same tools you’ve always used. There’s nothing wrong with that. Being familiar with the tools you use is often how to get the best results from them.

If you’re looking to shake things up, however, evaluating new tools is a great place to start! You may even find features and services with more or better capabilities than what you’re currently using, saving you time and frustration throughout the design process. 

In the following article, we’re nailing down some of the best tooling for creating sitemaps and user journeys, best tools for wireframing, best tools for UX research and testing, and the best tools for remote team collaboration. Take a look at what they can do, and maybe you’ll add one or two to your arsenal before the new year!

Creating sitemaps and user journeys

Slickplan

Slickplan has four distinct tools for planning how your users will navigate your site. There’s a sitemap builder, design mockup studio, content planner, and diagram maker that lets you plan user flows and test different scenarios. 

The software allows you to get all your UX and UI strategists, content creators, developers, and project planners together in one place. Plans range in sizes from a basic personal plan to a large agency plan, so you’ll spend anywhere from $9 to $90 annually depending on your team’s size and needs.

Lucidchart

Lucidchart is a visual tool you can use as a team to get on the same page. Create user flows, see how plans will impact your existing infrastructure, and map the flow of data across your site all in one easy tool.

Lucid, the parent company of all the Lucid products, also offers two different tool kits—Lucidspark and Lucidscale—which are useful in their own rights. Try out the free version of Lucidchart to see if you like the software before purchasing a larger plan.

UXPressia

Like the tools above, UXPressia offers the ability to create customer personas, user journeys, and integrate the two to build the best possible customer experience. They offer a free plan, a $16 starter plan, a $36 pro plan, and custom pricing for enterprise organizations.

They have also built the UXPressia Academy. It teaches beginners the basics of journey management, research, and planning, making them a great partner for small teams who may have less time for one-on-one training.

Creating wireframes and prototypes

Mockflow

Mockflow is a user-friendly way to plan your UI. Plus, it keeps great track of your revision history, which is crucial when you’re deep in the planning process and trying lots of new things at once.

Their free plan comes with one UI drawing project up to three pages, which will at least allow you enough access to see if you’d like to try a larger plan. Their Product Design plan, which includes all their tooling, is just $16 per month.

Adobe XD

If, like many agencies, you’ve decided it’s more cost-friendly to purchase all the Adobe creative cloud apps than to pick and choose what you need, then you already have access to Adobe XD!

For teams that aren’t all-in on Adobe, purchasing XD by itself will only run you $10 per month. Create prototyping for voice comments, build out micro-interactions like hover animations, embed playable videos, and more.

Google Web Designer

The world’s most popular search engine has created one of the world’s most popular pieces of prototyping software. Google Web Designer helps teams create interactive designs easily, from big responsive ads to the smallest micro-interactions. 

They’ve also compiled a handy collection of resources to help you get started. Each is color-coded so you’ll know if you’re looking at advice for beginner, intermediate, or advanced designers. And, like most of their products, Google Web Designer can be downloaded for free.

Conducting UX research and testing

Maze

Maze allows your team to create usability tests and user surveys and share them across the world. It also integrates easily with other tools you may already use, including AdobeXD. 

Once you’ve run your tests, Maze wraps up all the data for you in an easy-to-understand report full of important metrics, data, and actionable insights. Try their free version to get a peek at their software. If your team finds it helpful, you can upgrade to a Professional ($25/month) or Organization (custom pricing) plan.

Userlytics

Gain insights from a global participant panel, leverage their built-in demographic filters, or choose your own panel of participants when you complete your user testing with Userlytics. Simply create a test, and you’ll get a report compiled by UX consultants with detailed recommendations for improvement.

Their suites start at $49 per participant for a basic account. For only $20 more you’ll gain unlimited seats for team members in your account as well as the ability to use the moderated user testing features. Larger plans can talk to a representative about custom pricing.

Userzoom

Userzoom has a whole suite of tools that lets their users complete click testing, make surveys, conduct usability tests and live interviews, start tree testing, and more. 

Their two plans, Userzoom and Userzoom GO, each have different levels of tiered pricing. Head to their website to see the differences between plans and decide which is right for your team.

Collaborating with remote teams and clients

Miro

For real-time collaboration from anywhere in the world on a whiteboard that never ends, Miro is the place to gather. Their software integrates with popular tools used by creative teams, including slack, Dropbox, JIRA, and the entire Google Suite.

Free plans provide you with unlimited seats for your team across three editable whiteboards. Capabilities increase with the Team ($8 per member per month), Business ($16 per member per month), and Enterprise (custom pricing) packages.

Asana

Keep your deadlines straight, your task assignments clear, and your projects moving forward with Asana. It’s an easy collaborative tool you can use to stay on top of assignments and stay in touch with team members near and far.

Reduce time spent on busywork with a tool that keeps communication clear and your goals aligned. Try out the basic option for free. Then, decide if you want to upgrade to the Premium ($10.99 per month per user) or Business plan ($24.99 per month per user).

Growth Suite

Nurture your client relationships easily with just a few clicks using Growth Suite. Our platform combines billing and subscriptions for recurring services, bulk site management tools for WordPress, agency-branded client reports, and a unique client portal all in one place.

Get the insights you need to build recurring revenue streams while keeping your clients happy and informed. The best part? It’s branded for your business, so all communications share the unique look and feel of your agency or freelance business. Plans start at just $113 per month when billed annually, and you’ll get two months free when you sign up now!

Add to your design tool belt

These handy tools are responsible for assisting in the creation, deployment, and optimization of hundreds of thousands of sites web-wide. Which one do you think will be most beneficial to your team in 2022? Let us know in the comments!

Learn more about the most powerful tools for your growing web design business, including:

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