Are you looking to design your own products? For most new entrepreneurs, a lack of understanding of the process behind product design is what slows them down.
Luckily, thanks to the internet, there’s a plethora of online resources at our fingertips, most of which are free. Product designers around the world enjoy a wide range of options when it comes to platforms to help them make their vision a reality.
If you feel stuck and don’t know which tools to use, it’s time to get focused. It’s important to find useful tools to empower yourself, your team, and your current (or future) business.
For your convenience, we’ve put together a list of some of the best product design tools available today. We’re also a little partial towards resources that are open-source, moderately priced, or free; the more money you save the better it is for your growing business.
We’ve also painstakingly researched some of the more obscure gems that can help you in the design process. Some of these tools have a vast range of applications, be it swift ideation, rendering, visualization, the crafting of interactive projects, aiding in the designing phase, or manufacturing. These will help you improve the overall aesthetic feel and quality of your designs and will improve your design acumen.
This list hasn’t been ranked in a particular order, so make sure to read through them all!
InVision is predominantly a digital product design and development platform. It helps designers craft high-quality prototypes that you can interact with. This allows you to gauge if you're getting the right feel from the product. It’s a great tool to present what the final product will look like to clients; you can even demonstrate the prototype on alternate devices.
It also allows you to leave comments in real-time and build priority lists through InVision’s Live Share mode, which makes coordination quite seamless. It’s a fairly recent addition to the market with it still being touted as “early access”. Despite some minor bugs, it still receives very promising feedback and reviews from users.
2. Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator CC has become an industry-standard over the years. It offers quality vector drawing and editing for professionals in the product design industry. It allows users to fabricate designs that can be used anywhere due to its amazing compatibility. Design from Adobe Illustrator can be utilized almost anywhere be it websites, logos, games, hoardings, or even the fashion industry.
Another advantage is the fact that they have a library of royalty-free stock art that you can use if you want. It also interfaces seamlessly with video and animation apps like Premiere Pro, Animate CC, and After Effects. You can also easily share your work among the team through various desktop and mobile-based Adobe apps.
Balsamiq is a UI tool that allows you to recreate the experience of sketching or penning your design on a notepad or whiteboard. It’s available for both Mac and Windows users, as well as a cloud version that you can get based on a monthly or yearly subscription.
It’s a breeze to use as you can quickly start sketching without really having to put up with the tedious task of learning how to use the platform. It also comes with the convenience of a pre-fabricated UI component library that can be a treasure trove for designers. It also allows you to upload your assets.
Sketch is a fabulous vector-based design tool. It makes sure you don’t ever have to worry about image resolution or densities while you create mockups and sketches. It’s been giving much more established players like Photoshop a run for their money; this is because Sketch is much better optimized for mobile and web-based app design.
Unlike more complicated interfaces that can deter newbies, Sketch has a very intuitive layout that will help you start designing quickly. It's done a great job to eliminate scores of advanced features that clutter other platforms. It’s also made image editing quite elementary.
AutoCAD is a design and drafting platform that allows you to create renderings in both 2D and 3D. It’s used across the world by architects, technicians, car manufacturers, engineers, and designers of all sorts. It’s a leader in the field of 3D and 2D modeling and visualization, with a plethora of annotation and drawing tools.
The 2D drafting tool empowers designers with smart dimensioning tools, fields, layouts, tables, and the ability to manage text. The 3D modeling tool makes it much easier to manage mesh, solid, surface modeling, photorealistic rendering, 3d scanning, and more.
It’s available on Android and iOS apps, which makes it much more flexible when it comes to sharing your creations on the go. They also have a convenient design feed that allows your team to update, share, and provide feedback on ongoing projects.
Sculptris is a free sculpting software program. It can serve as a great start to learning to sculpt digitally and perfect the design sensibilities of your projects. It was designed while keeping in mind new designers as well. It helps immeasurably to redefine structures for your models, edit geometry with a few strokes, and even incorporate pain textures into the meshes you’ve created.
OnShape is a fully cloud-based 3D CAD platform that can be made available easily to everyone in your design team. Even better, it’s available on any device of their choosing, be it tablets, desktops, or even phones. This means that they can tap into this powerful modeling engine on the move. It enables you to create complex drawings, build realistic assembly motion, collaborate with the team, play around with parameters to modify existing models, and import CAD projects from other sources.
Proto.io is a powerful tool to create high-quality interactive app prototypes for mobile. It's well known for allowing designers to create and apply transitions, touch events, and designs that can be used to create a prototype to interact with.
The best part is that it can be used on the actual mobile device, which is great when it comes to troubleshooting the experience. It has an intuitive drag-and-drop UI that helps prototype complex interaction without any knowledge of coding. Another convenient feature is the fact that you can print your prototypes as well.
9. Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop was one of the first software programs to be released as a part of the Adobe deigning suite. It’s been used around the world over for years for digital imaging, video editing, and design. Its new updates have provided product designers the tools to render perfect 3D models.
It has a rich array of tools to help you in any process that you choose to undertake. The newest iteration allows you to visualize your 3D creations in the real world and hook up a 3D printer with ease to bring your creations to life. It also has an automatic generation of support structures along with the usual arsenal of editing tools.
Blender is another free and simple-to-use design tool to help you create your vision. It's an open-source software program that has an unbiased rendering mechanism for ultra-real renderings, great editing, and drawing tools. It also has intuitive keyboard shortcuts to speed up your rate of work.
Putting Your Tools to Use in A Career
Hopefully, this list will help you find the tools you need to create unparalleled designs to fuel your business's growth. If you still feel like you need to learn more to make your dream a reality, we have two courses for you to consider. The first course is for you if you’re looking to develop digital products. If that’s the case, then our Software Developer course is the course for you.
If you want to understand how to build a product from start to finish using a customer-focused approach, then you might lean toward our Product Management course. You’ll understand what goes into managing product-related projects that your target customers will love. This is a great opportunity for you to get an in-depth understanding of what it takes to make your product thrive.
If you’re interested in any of these courses, or you have questions about how to become a product designer, reach out to a member of our team. Our focus is to help you thrive in a career you’ll love.