When it comes to UX design tools, there’s a whole lot of choices out there for every step of the design process. A variety of tool options are available for everything from user research and testing to high fidelity prototyping. Due to this abundance of choice, finding the right tools to assemble your UX toolbox can be mind-boggling.

So how do UX designers know which tools to explore and start using? Worry not! We prepared a list of top industry tools each meant for different phase of the UX process. This is not an extensive UX tools landscape overview, but rather a guide on 6 amazing tools that can help you design smarter in 2018.

1. Gather user data with Typeform

User research is a crucial part of the user experience design process. It is the first building block of your design. If you don’t identify the problems and user needs early in the research phase, your whole design will eventually start to crumble.

Depending on your particular project needs, your process may include different user research methods, such as in-person interviews, usability testing, user persona development, etc. But in almost all cases, it will include surveys as the most efficient way to gather qualitative data from users.

Most UX designers will spend a ton of time crafting the right survey questions, but paradoxically, they’ll often forget how important survey design is for generating quality data. By using a tool such as Typeform, you can quickly create beautifully designed surveys that your users actually want to complete. With clean UX and smooth interactions, Typeform is incredibly easy to use and sure to engage your survey participants.

2. Build wireframes in Sketch

Wireframes act as the connective tissue between the raw creative idea and the final design. They allow designers to create the proper structure for a new design project, whether they are designing a website or a mobile application. This is what makes wireframing such an important stage in user experience design.

When it comes to wireframing tools, Sketch doesn’t need a special introduction given the fact that it is quickly becoming a UX/UI designers go-to tool for wireframing, especially since Photoshop started to lose its popularity among designers.

Sketch is built from the ground up for UI design so the functionality it offers for wireframing is very specialized and purposeful, including the artboard, layers, shape tools, symbols and the plethora of plugins. One reason the user experience designers love this tool is it’s ability to quickly transition to higher fidelity design, having most of the basic elements already in.

3. Create different fidelity prototypes with Balsamiq and Koncept

Designers in successful product companies use prototyping as part of iterative design process to deliver better designs faster, and reduce risks involved in the development of new products.

There are many different options on the market for prototyping tools that allow you to build anything from low-fi to high fidelity clickable prototypes. If you’re looking to create a low-fidelity prototype without adding UI design elements and complex interactions, Balsamiq is a tool for you.

However, if you like to think about interactions in a more realistic way, you’re going to need a tool that will give you the ability to create prototypes that mimic real product experiences.

Koncept is a tool that makes it easy to build an interactive prototype out of your static designs. You can use it to quickly make functional app prototypes by adding scenes, linking screens, and setting transitions to create that real app feel.

4. Collaborate with your team on Trello

As a UX designer, you’re likely working with a cross-functional team and you need to be able to communicate the progress of your designs to them. A tool like Trello can make it easy for you to share updates on the project so everyone in your team knows what’s going on and when/how they need to contribute.

Trello really simplifies collaboration with its drag-and-drop Kanban card wall interface. It’s easy to prioritize tasks and you’ll always have a clear view of your entire project. Designers generally love this tool because it’s great for visual thinking. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Trello is completely free!

5. Run usability tests on your prototypes with KonceptApp

Testing your prototype with real users is equally as important as prototyping the design. With an interactive prototype, you’ll be able to put the design in the hands of users so you can test the app workflow and specific UI components and understand the experience they go through while interacting with the app.

Usability testing on prototypes can help you remove any issues and points of friction and ensure you’re creating exceptional UX before the app goes into development.

With tools like Koncept, you can send tasks to remote users and track all the key metrics related to usability, including: success rate, average time to completion, steps to completion, and more. You can also see the path users took to complete the task via heatmaps.

So there you have it! Our favorite UX tools of 2018. But don’t take our word for it , these tools are either free to use or have a free trial so you can try them out yourself!

If you want to recommend a tool we didn’t mention, we’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.