Prototyping is now one of the most valuable elements in the UX design process. And with an increasing number of stakeholders involved, expectations are rising. In the era of advanced prototyping basic mockups no longer cut it — it’s time to adopt new tools that provide the next level of functionality.
With more and more options available, choosing the right prototyping tool can be overwhelming. So if you're getting dizzy from choice paralysis too, we've done the homework for you.
Firstly, we understand that the absence of a free tier can be a deal-breaker for many users, which is why all of the rapid prototyping software in our list have free versions (and not just free trials). No clock ticking to force you commit to a paid subscription! Secondly, we wanted to collect a list of tools that would suit users with different levels of experience. Whether you're a seasoned UX designer, or you’ve only started to explore the world of UX , this list of Top-6 prototyping tools is for you. It will provide you with options that are user friendly, integrate seamlessly with your design software and fulfil all your prototyping needs.
Top-6 Free Prototyping Tools in 2023:
Weave.ly automatically turns designs into fully functional progressive web apps ready to get tested by users. What makes weave.ly different from any other rapid prototyping software, is that it fully integrates with Figma and works as a plugin. And by this we do not mean a plugin for exporting your designs to an external platform. Basically, weave.ly extends prototyping functionality of Figma by letting its users create advanced prototypes without leaving the Figma environment. Once you update your design, your weave.ly prototype will be updated automatically.
With weave.ly you can build full-stack web apps with advanced prototyping features like working inputs, conditional interactions, real and live data. You can also import data into prototypes from external sources, use camera functionality to add real images, add map functionality with live location and much more. Weave.ly also offers a range of interactive components that can be included in prototypes for real user testing. As you can see, such a prototype will closely resemble the final product. This, in turn, will lead to smoother design to development hand-offs.
Weave.ly’s free tier gives you access to the full range of the platform’s functionality and only limits you to a single project in return.
Of course, nothing is perfect, and weave.ly has its drawbacks too. While the tool is entirely code-free, it still requires some learning to get the hang of it. To ease the learning process, weave.ly has an AI assistant integrated into the platform. It can explain how to use the tool and navigate you in the right direction when you need help. If you want more in-depth guidance, you should check out the weave.ly academy for detailed guides and tutorials.
- Seamless integration with Figma: stay in the same environment
- Advanced prototyping functionality: conditions, variables, real & live data, live location, camera access
- Quantitative user metrics
- No real-time collaboration (yet)
- Only basic UI animations supported
- Learning curve
UXPin combines design and prototyping within a single platform allowing users to both create designs and build prototypes for web and mobile applications. Unlike Figma that is also a powerful design tool, UXPin puts a stronger emphasis on UX and prototyping.
With UXPin, you can build advanced prototypes with interactions that significantly exceed those of Figma or Sketch functionality. The tool supports advanced prototyping features like conditional logic, variables, animation and micro-interactions, that let you build sophisticated prototypes looking a lot like the end product.
The tool has everything you need to create the real deal, including a drag-and-drop interface, a library of pre-built UI elements that substantially speed up the design and prototyping process. These interactive pre-built elements include buttons, forms, menus, icons, and other common UI components. UXPin also provides real-time collaboration, version control, and commenting features.
However, the fact that UXPin is a separate design platform might become an obstacle to using the tool. Of course, thanks to integration with Figma, Adobe and Sketch, it's not that hard to export your designs to UXPin. Yet, as your design process progresses, continually switching between platforms could become time-consuming and potentially disruptive. You then face a choice: sticking with your familiar design software or fully embracing UXPin's platform for a more seamless workflow?
- Pre-built UI elements and design patterns
- Complex interactions: conditions, variables, real data, animations
- Real-time collaboration
- Limited free version (no UXPin Merge)
- Requires to move your designs if you’re a Figma/Sketch/XD user
- Learning curve
Mockplus is a cloud-based rapid prototyping software that allows designers to build interactive prototypes and wireframes. It offers a drag-and-drop interface with pre-designed components and templates, making it easy to create interactive prototypes without coding.
Mockplus focuses on providing an intuitive interface with a simplified prototyping experience. Its basic interaction options and animations are great for creating interactive prototypes with moderate complexity. Therefore, you probably shouldn't expect the output perfectly resemble the final product. For example, on the component level you'll find such interactive effects like clicking, double clicking, right clicking or hovering.
So, although prototypes made with Mockplus do have a top-notch look and are fully responsive, they might be slightly less advanced in terms of functionality, compared to such platforms like UXPin or Axure.
As the platform has a relatively low learning curve, it's accessible to designers with different levels of experience. In addition, Mockplus offers a great collaboration system, which is why it is so popular among product teams. Thanks to the platform's intuitive interface, team members with and without experience in UX/UI design can easily collaborate together, leaving comments directly on the prototypes.
Overall, Mockplus may not be the most well-known rapid prototyping software in the market, especially in Europe, but users that do use it, usually highly rate this platform. This is why Mockplus definitely deserves a spot in our best free prototyping tools list!
- Real-time collaboration
- Large library of pre-built components
- Low learning curve
- Limited functionality: no support for conditions or variables (variables for colours only)
- Many premium features hidden behind the paywall
- Limited customisation
PenPot is a free and open-source design tool that offers a solid alternative for prototyping and UI design to platforms such as Figma or Sketch. It is, by the way, the first design and prototyping platform for product teams to be open source.
PenPot differs from other tools by putting emphasis on collaboration between designers and developers, which is supposed to boost efficiency of the prototyping process. What's important, the platform lets all stakeholders share the same space to work on the project in real time.
With PenPot you can create prototypes with interaction triggers such as on click, mouse enter/leave, or timers. You can also set actions like navigation, overlays, back buttons, and opening URLs. And with the help of the flows feature, PenPot allows you to define one or multiple starting points within the same page. You can add as many flows as you want, but you might face a similar problem of prototyping spaghetti, just like in Figma. Speaking of other cool features, animation options for transitions between screens add a nice touch to your prototype.
Despite some obvious benefits, it's true that Penpot’s components library and prototyping features are still really limited. Yet, we did include PenPot in this list of the best free prototyping tools, as it offers something unique that others don't - the ability to modify the tool's source code and tailor it to your project's specific needs. Another big advantage of this rapid prototyping software is that it is absolutely free.
- Access to the source code of the tool
- Real-time collaboration
- Cool interaction animations
- Basic interactions
- Limited component library
When it comes to Figma, it's the kind of tool that needs no introduction. This cloud-based design platform conquered the hearts of millions of UX/UI designers in the past years. Although primarily known for its powerful design capabilities, Figma offers some basic but decent prototyping functionality.
Figma allows users to create clickable prototypes with interactive flows. For example, you can set up such interactions as click/tap, hover effects, or scrolling. Figma also enables creating interactive components with different states and a wide range of customisation. One of the best functionalities is that you can work on the same design file simultaneously and leave comments for feedback. Another great feature is that you can add simple animations like fades, slides, and rotations into your Figma prototypes.
Speaking of more advanced functionality, Figma doesn't have built-in support for conditional logic or variables in prototypes. Neither does it allow working inputs in your prototypes. However, there are some workarounds in a form of third-party tools that can help you add these functionalities. For instance, the weave.ly plugin for Figma ;)
Overall, Figma is mostly suitable for building medium-fidelity prototypes. You can simulate user flows and navigation within your designs, but it might become tedious with complex prototypes. By linking every screen to visualise flows and sequences, you'll end up creating so-called prototyping spaghetti.
Therefore, if you seek advanced animation, complex interactions, or in-depth performance testing for your prototypes, it might be worth exploring options beyond Figma.
- Real-time collaboration
- Various plugins to fulfil certain prototyping functionality
- Designing & prototyping in the same ecosystem
- Basic functionality: simple interactions
- "Prototyping spaghetti"
Uizard is an AI-powered prototyping software designed to help users bring their digital product design ideas to life quickly. What's interesting about this tool, is that it was actually created for non-designers! So, if you have no experience in UX/UI design but want to quickly test your idea, Uizard is a perfect tool to start with.
Uizard is a UI-focused prototyping tool. One of its unique features is the ability to convert hand-drawn sketches into digital designs using its AI technology. It also offers a library of design templates, icons, and illustrations that can be used to create custom designs. As the tool is designed to be easy to use, its prototyping functionality is really simple and straightforward. After creating wireframes, you can transform them into mockups, add UX elements, and link screens.
Obviously, most don’t consider Uizard to be a super powerful rapid prototyping software (unlike the tools we discuss above). Nonetheless, for those building mockups and prototypes in non-corporate settings, it perfectly serves its purpose by rapidly producing quite an appealing output.
Although we emphasised the lightness of Uizard's functionality and its focus on UI, the platform can also be handy for UX designers. For example, if you are under a deadline pressure and urgently need to create a clickable prototype.
- Very easy to use (created with non-designers in mind)
- Quick prototyping with focus on UI
- Basic functionality (not suited for advanced prototypes)
- Limited customisation
Choosing the right prototyping tool depends on a number of factors, which can vary based on individual preferences and project requirements.
This collection of the best free prototyping tools has something for everyone. For those seeking advanced prototyping functionality, we have included tools that offer robust features. At the same time, we have also chosen tools that prioritise collaborative abilities, even if it means sacrificing some advanced features. Sometimes simplicity is key, so we also considered platforms that allow for quick testing of ideas without learning curve.
We hope this top helped you find that one tool you were looking for!