6 Best UX/UI Design Softwares for 2021

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Which are the current best UX/UI design softwares for 2021? Here’s a list of the top 6 that are industry-standards.b

Traditional tools for graphic design such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Gimp have since multiple years back seized to be the most optimized software for working with UX and UI design. Those tools were not designed for the digital interfaces as we know them today. However, some of them have gotten many useful updates, but they still can’t compete with the best UX/UI tools that exist today.

The best UX/UI Design softwares today, that most designers use, are programs created specifically for digital design.

The Best UX/UI Design Softwares for 2021

You may also be interest in: The 4 Best Books to Learn UX/UI Design for Beginners

What makes a UX/UI software good?

These programs and tools above are all created for designing websites and apps.

That means that they’re much better for:

  • Designer-developer handoffs
  • Creating vector shapes
  • Symbols and component library
  • Prototyping

Some of them even have dedicated software for micro-animations and interaction design, which can be combined with front-end code (ex. Framer).

Explanation of important tool features

1. Designer-developer handoffs

Designer-developer handoffs are the process by which a designer presents the mockup and design to the developer for them to implement.

See Sketch’s video about it here:

The developer needs to understand the design to be able to implement it correctly. Not only the correct colors but also the functionality such as prototyping between screens and animations.

Example of helpful features

Features that assist such handoffs are for example

  • ready-made front-end code
  • color-picking tools from the mockup
  • interfaces where multiple people can comment and inspect different elements of a design
    • This is useful for feedback between designers, clarifying questions from developers, or critique from stakeholders.

2. Symbol System / Component library

Symbol system / Component library is a functionality where you can create symbols or components from a graphical element such as a button.

See the video below about Symbols in Sketch. In Figma it’s called Components, but it’s the same principle.

An example of a symbol/component can ba button:

  • The shape of the button (border-radius, margin, padding)
  • The color of the filling and borders
  • The text alignment inside of the button (as well as font-family, the text color, the font-size)

They are reusable

One of the main benefits of using symbols/components are that they are interlinked. So if you change the appearance of the source component, than all linked components will be updated as well.

This is useful when you’re for example designing a system vid 20-30+ different screens that all contains some elements repeatedly. If you use components, you don’t need to go through every single screen to change the same button. You only need to change it once.

Good for building Design Systems

This functionality is super helpful when building Design Systems. Designers and developer can just pick elements from the symbol or component library and use again and again.

More efficient, saves money, and helps consistency

Using components and symbols makes the design- and development process much more efficient. It also saves money and time, and prevents time from being spent making the same components again and again.

Components and symbols that have been pre-made also makes sure that everyone on the team, whether a designer or a developer, always uses the same design guidelines. It creates consistency.

3. Prototyping and animation

Prototyping and animation are important for making an overall good product and refined user experience and interaction design.

What is a prototype and what are they good for?

Prototypes are important to link different screens with each other, and to show the developer what happens when the user performs different actions.

What is a prototype?
To create a prototype means that you decide which screens are going to be connected when the user performs an action.

For example: When the user clicks on the “Buy”-button on the landing page, he or she is re-directed or connected to the payment page. Now you have a simple prototype of what happens when the user clicks the “Buy”-button.

This is especially important when working with complex websites or systems that have many interlinks. It’s also important when working with applications that are modular and state-dependent (for example React applications).

What are animations good for?

Animations are needed to provide feedback, communicate information, deliver an emotional design. They make the product feel more alive.

Motion design within UI design is increasing in popularity as companies have seen that micro-animations during interactions can have huge effects.

Which UX/UI program to start with?

Honestly, it doesn’t matter much which program you learn first.

Most of them work on the same principles and once you know how to work with artboards, vectors, symbols, grouping elements, and etc you’ll easily transfer your knowledge to a different application.

For beginners, I would recommend either Sketch, Figma, or Adobe XD.

Applications such as Framer and Axure have a steeper learning curve and you may not need to be such an expert at micro-interactions when starting out.

I started with Sketch when I began learning. Today, I would’ve chosen Figma since it’s an entirely free and cloud-based application.

Figma has all the functionalities you need to start learning creating mockups and prototypes. I also really dig their new “Figma Community” where designers share their design kits.

Figma community

How to learn UX/UI design

The best way to learn UX & UI design is to read a lot of books, articles, educational videos, and practice! You need to combine theory with real projects and ask for feedback so that you can learn from others.

Formal education is important if you want to get into UX research position. Otherwise, if you’re more interested in the UI and graphic direction, you can do it with self-learning and creating a great portfolio.

You may also be interested in: Best 4 Books to Learn UX/UI Design for Beginners

For beginners

When first learning design, it’s better to focus on understanding all the basic principles of design such as:

  1. Color theory
  2. Layouts
  3. Symmetry
  4. Usability principles
  5. Basic typography
  6. Basic prototyping
  7. Information architecture
  8. As well as how to use programs with which you can express your designs

More advanced skills

When advancing one’s skills it’s a good idea to start exploring:

  • Animations – For micro-interactions and feedback
  • Front-end development – To understand the possibilities and restrictions of what you’re designing
  • Design Systems – Creating and maintaining
  • Component/symbol libraries
  • Product Design – Take into account the business objectives and budgets
  • Inclusive design – Accessibility for all
  • Ethical design – Be aware of dark UX patterns and unethical design practice

Now you know which the best UX/UI Design softwares are! I hope this was helpful.

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