What Tools Should You Use for UX Design?

This is in response to a Quora question about mobile interaction design, but it’s also an answer to a question I’ve personally been asked frequently:

What is the best software for doing interaction/UX design?

The fact of the matter is that NO specific tool is the best. I’ve designed the UX for several iOS apps, and each time have used InDesign to craft wireframes. But that was only because it was the standard practice of the teams I worked with.

The specific tools you use to communicate design concepts doesn’t really matter. Pencil and paper can be infinitely more effective than software, as long as you’re focused on clearly communicating three things:

  1. Information displayed on the screen: how is it laid out, prioritized, and made easily scannable by the structure you give it
  2. Interaction states: which elements on the page are interactive? What happens if a user taps an element, or interacts with one gesture vs. another?
  3. User flow: how does each step or element of the experience flow naturally and logically, progressing step-by-step?

Any tool can be used to both communicate designs and to test and validate — just share you designs with people and see how they react!

So, think less about which tool you need, and just use the tools you feel most comfortable with. Focus instead on what you’re communicating with your designs, and what decisions your making that will effect the end user.

Here is an example of a rough wireframe — a mock-up of a landing page for a new service. I used this basic design to communicate many different decisions and assumptions. The key thing here is not the design itself, but the conversations and collaboration that can come out of sharing such a design with your project team.