The current market for web design software is saturated with choices for designers to use. With so many options, selecting the most relevant one can be overwhelming. Regardless of what design needs a company has, there are likely many tools that provide that ability. While these tools may be great on their own merits, no one needs them to accomplish their design projects. For that reason, it is beneficial to have a list of essential web design software tools that can be referenced to fill any design needs.
The tools included on this list range from very well known to not yet widespread, but growing in popularity, spanning various web design purposes, including web design, image editing, prototyping, wireframing, as well as a host of other everyday design needs. The advantage of having access to these tools is that they can, whether used independently or in tandem with each other, assist in delivering the needed solutions to help expedite workflow in developing great-looking, robust websites.
Adobe Photoshop is an essential piece of design software and has been the most popular tool in the web design realm for many years, continuing to be widely used today. It affords designers an extensive set of features that range from crafting website layouts to image editing tools. It remains the primary choice of design software to design stunning, visually appealing websites. Those who need software for wireframing and prototyping have other options that are more robust than what Photoshop offers, however. Photoshop is easy to navigate, with a clean, intuitive interface. It supports the most common file formats and now provides a fully functional version on the iPad.
While Photoshop is the market leader in design software, Sketch is a close second. Photoshop might be the go-to for the most incredible variety of creative projects. Still, Sketch offers excellent options for prototyping interactive interface design, two areas that could be done better in Photoshop. Alongside those, Sketch provides a wide variety of essential tools that can benefit a wide array of web designing companies.
Whereas Photoshop comes up short in certain areas, being overshadowed by some other popular industry apps, Adobe XD is the brand’s attempt to fill the gap of lackluster aspects of Photoshop. Adobe XD is a versatile toolset permitting the design of everything from websites and apps to games and vocal interfaces (as well as everything in between)? The best part is that it integrates fully with all other Adobe tools via the Adobe Creative Cloud, which means that you can import projects from Photoshop and Illustrator into XD and continue the project there with the additional available tools.
One of the shortcomings of most web design applications is that they only permit collaborative work by exporting and sending project files to the other team members. Figma addresses that genuine inconvenience by offering a tool that allows real-time collaborative efforts to take place. With Figma, prototypes and design projects can be shared via links with others, and feedback can be solicited from them in response to the shared content. Multiple users can work on the same project simultaneously, allowing various aspects of a design project to move forward simultaneously rather than wait for one to be completed. Figma is available on all major OS systems, as well as from a web browser. In many ways, it resembles Sketch, but with a collaborative component.
UXPin is another option in terms of collaborative tools, which, like Figma, allows you to work through a browser and software installed on any major OS systems (Windows, Linux, Mac). The tools will enable creating a wide range of projects, including wireframing and advanced design jobs. The tool includes:
- Interactive form elements.
- Built-in libraries.
- Vector drawing tools.
- The soon-forthcoming HTML import and code components functions.
The award for most improved (and continuously trending that way) design software on this list has to go to Affinity Designer, a fully functional graphic design tool for PCs and iPads, both with comparable functionality. Since their genesis five years ago, they have made steady improvements, focusing on the weaker areas of their software. It is a powerful software package, offering a wide array of design options in an increasingly user-accessible interface. Switching between raster and vector workspaces is a matter of a single click, for instance. The creative freedom that Affinity affords designers is far-reaching, to be sure.
For those web designers interested in generating complex interactive prototypes with a wide functional variety, ProtoPie might be a great choice to consider. One feature that makes it stand out from its competitors is the controllability of sensors by the software of different device types, including touch, sound, and numerous others. Best of all, it requires zero knowledge of coding to use, making it a more helpful tool for many.
MockFlow is a simple wireframing software that allows designers to visualize a design’s very early incarnations. It will enable idea documentation, as well as the composition of impressive style guides. Best of all, MockFlow is cloud-based. Different users can access the same project simultaneously and edit it in real-time, making it an excellent collaborative tool that design teams can use regardless of where their members reside geographically.
Framer is a superior tool full of features that allow for the creation of interactive designs, permitting quick, easy, and intuitive setup of links, page interactions, and scrolling features. It can be used regardless of whether the goal is to set up realistic prototypes or generate responsive website layouts. One never needs to start from a blank slate with Framer. The tool features templates, live maps, multi-platform UI kits, media players, 3D effects, and loads of other fantastic features to get any project off the ground.
This list is filled with a great set of tools for a variety of web design facets. It is, however, not a fully comprehensive compilation. There are many other design tools for designers to choose from, each equipped with a unique set of practical design features. Just take your time and try each of them to see which tools feel the most comfortable, helpful, and functional to you. Web design is an ever-developing niche, and it may happen that someone will release a completely new, revolutionary tool that will overshadow everything available at the moment.