It can be intimidating to get into user experience, especially if you’re a newbie who isn’t quite sure what to do at first. Fear not, these 12 tools will help you get to speed in no time. Even if you’re not a newbie, we’re betting that you can still use these tools to get better at what you’re doing!
You’ll need to get familiar with the essentials of user experience, from research to wireframing to designing a final product. These tools cover all of these bases from beginning to end.
Before you even get started with UX, you should know a little bit about the field you’re in. Thankfully, Fast Company has this introduction to UX, which clearly sets out which different roles and tools you can expect to see in any healthy UX team.
Fast Company itself often has quality articles and resources for any aspiring or established UX professional. In fact we have included it in our list of the top 20 user experience blogs and resources of 2015.
Great user experiences don’t come out of nowhere. They’re a real response to a real problem. In order for you to design elegant solutions for user problems, you will have to deeply understand what people are going through. That will usually involve collecting user feedback. You’ll want to know what problems exist, and who is having them before you build anything.
Typeform is a great survey tool that employs a lot of UX awesomeness in its design. They feature forms that are super easy and pleasant to fill out, with many customizable options. The basic plan is free, and you’ll be able to quickly aggregate and analyze insights into what problems you must solve.
Springboard offers 21st century education, on-demand. Their curated curriculum of UX resources covers every element of the UX process and will help you sharpen your skills in all of the domains you need to practice to evolve into an UX expert. You won’t need to go to university to learn what it takes to make it in UX. The resources are free, accessible, and organized in a way that brings you straight through the A to Zs of user experience.
Now that you’ve gotten an idea of the problems you need to solve, it’s a good time to sit down and look into your solution.
You’re going to need more than a notepad and a mental image to sharpen your own vision of what must be done. UXPin is an online wireframing tool, which allows you to drag and drop various elements to mock up an interface. It’s a visual editor that allows you to choose elements and combine them together into a cohesive whole. It will allow you to design web and mobile interfaces without a line of code.
UXPin also provide a number of free design guides, some of which we have included in our round up of the top 10 free design guides released in 2015.
While UX Pin is focused on being as comprehensive as possible for wireframing, Balsamiq wants you to quickly iterate and craft out rough drafts of your design thoughts so you can quickly compare and pick out your best rough thoughts. It’s a wireframing tool that will allow you to communicate your vision, and help you balance different UX choices early on so that when you do design something, you’ll know exactly what you’re doing.
Canva is a simple tool that will allow you to quickly design and modify images and typographies to create individual elements of your UX design. You can create captioned images, custom buttons, and much more with a simple canvas and drag and drop editor that allows you to put your creativity into even the smallest of details.
Color selection can be one of the hardest parts of UX design, especially when you’ve just started. The Adobe Color Wheel helps you pick a set of colors that complement and contrast with one another so that you can take years of thinking on color theory and apply it directly to your projects.
Typography is another tricky choice: the difference between the right font and the wrong one can spell either triumph, or disaster for your design!
Luckily, Google Fonts offers one of the most exhaustive collection of fonts in the world, most of them at no charge. You’ll never have to write a business presentation in comic sans again.
Getting the right image to fit in your header is another headache for UX designers. You want the perfect image that conveys just the right amount of emotion and the right tone for your users. The right picture can make the difference between a perfect and botched design, and a canvas without any images quickly becomes dull and uninspiring.
Luckily, Pixabay is a search engine for high quality stock photos that can help you make the right image choices. There are stock photos for sale, but most of the images Pixabay pick out are free for use even for commercial purpose and free of charge.
Invision allows you to make your mockups live. By putting them through an interactive slideshow, and giving you tools that make it easy to share your work and have others comment on it, it’s the tool most of the largest tech companies in the world use to help their teams communicate with one another. Beyond wireframing, Invision allows you to create interactive experiences that feel close to what your user will be going through without touching any code. It’s invaluable for that.
Redpen is a slightly simpler version of collecting feedback from your team on different designs. Drag and drop your new design, and people will be able to click on any point and add comments for you. It’s as simple as that.
For a comprehensive list of collaboration tools, be sure to check out our list of 30 Useful User Experience (UX) Tools.
You’ve built something and collaborated with team members or mentors to deliver the perfect touches for your product to succeed. Now, you’ll need to get user feedback. You can always use survey tools like Typeform and reach out to actual users, but Peek actually offers you something much more interesting. They’ll send three random people to your site and have them record what they liked and didn’t like about it in a video sent straight to you! It doesn’t get much better than that.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know about these tools. Hopefully, through them, your journey from being a UX newbie to a UX professional becomes easier!
(Lead image source: Pixabay CC0)