10 brilliant tools used for product design to streamline your workflow

Posted on April 17, 2024
14 min read

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Exceptional product design allows your organization to create exceptional user experiences that solve real user needs and drive business success. However, selecting the right solutions can be challenging, as there is an overwhelming array of tools available. 

This guide curates 10 top product design software tools across key categories—from collaborative prototyping to usability testing—to boost productivity and streamline workflows. When you use the right tools for product design, you can significantly accelerate the design process and help deliver outstanding product experiences that users love.

A shortlist of the 10 best product design tools

Here are the 10 best product design tools, which have been carefully selected based on their features, usability, and popularity across industries:

  1. UserTesting: Best for user research, customer feedback, and rapid usability testing
  2. Figma: Best for collaborative design and prototyping
  3. Sketch: Best for vector-based design and pixel-perfect user interface (UI) creation
  4. Balsamiq: Best for rapid wireframing and low-fidelity prototyping
  5. InVision: Best for interactive prototyping and design handoff
  6. Canva: Best for creating stunning visual assets and presentations
  7. Webflow: Best for building production-ready websites without coding
  8. SolidWorks: Best for precision 3D modeling and mechanical design
  9. LabVIEW: Best for rapid prototyping and development of custom test and control systems
  10. AutoCAD: Best for precise 2D and 3D drafting and design

What should you look for in product design software

When evaluating product design tools, some key features to look for include:

  • Collaboration capabilities: These allow teams to work on designs, simultaneously cutting down project timelines.
  • Usability testing: Rapidly validating designs with real users earlier on reduces risk, saves money, and helps create more customer-centric experiences.
  • Prototyping functionality: Rapidly creating low-fidelity wireframes and high-fidelity interactive prototypes is essential.
  • Design systems: These help define and standardize elements, thus maintaining consistency across UI interfaces. 
  • Developer handoff: Smoothly transitioning final designs via specifications, code snippets, or libraries integrates well with engineering.
  • Support for iterations: Easy version control and documenting changes through iterative cycles are invaluable for product improvements.
  • Diverse exporting: Support for multiple formats when delivering final assets provides flexibility.
  • Learning resources: Extensive documentation, tutorials, templates, and community forums ease onboarding.

With an overwhelming array of products in the space, this framework helps you narrow your options while catering to specific work processes and use cases. Weighing individual solution strengths across these parameters helps you select the best fit to elevate the end-to-end product design experience.

10 brilliant software tools used for product design in 2024

Now that we've covered the basics, let's dive deep into the 10 best product design tools for 2024.

1. UserTesting for usability testing

UserTesting is a leading usability testing platform. It enables your teams to validate product designs with real users early and often by creating realistic or interactive prototypes. This end-to-end solution allows you to recruit diverse target audiences easily via its contributor network. The tool also helps you conduct remote moderated and unmoderated sessions, capturing user reactions through customizable templates. Then, it further supports your staff in analyzing results with qualitative feedback and quantitative metrics to share findings across teams seamlessly.

With thousands of pre-vetted testing participants available on-demand, UserTesting allows UX researchers, UX designers, marketers, and product teams to rapidly test assumptions, design concepts, and workflows with their target persona groups. The platform's pre-built templates and customization features simplify setting up tests for non-researchers.

Meanwhile, UserTesting's advanced analytics provide quantitative metrics like task completion rates to pinpoint usability obstacles. Plus, create easy highlight reels that stakeholders can replay to observe customer reactions first-hand.

Overall, UserTesting is a great product testing software. It allows you to continually validate and refine designs based on user input early in the development cycle instead of playing catch-up after launch. The platform's agile, iterative process thus helps you lead your teams toward more human-centered products.

Top features

Key capabilities of UserTesting for usability testing include:

  • Contributor network with quick access to a curated pool of participants
  • Remote unmoderated and moderated sessions
  • Pre-built customizable test templates
  • User session recordings and highlights
  • Custom analytics with qualitative and quantitative data
  • AI-generated session summaries and results reporting
  • Integrations with top design and workflow tools

Benefits of this tool

UserTesting simplifies and accelerates key aspects of usability testing, such as:

  • Recruiting representative target users matching specific demographic criteria
  • Validating design assumptions across the development lifecycle
  • Identifying usability obstacles early through iterative testing
  • Capturing qualitative user feedback for design improvements
  • Providing quantitative data like task completion rates and time-to-task to showcase the impact
  • Observing real user reactions via session replays
  • Seamlessly collaborate on findings across distributed teams

Product reviews

  • G2: 4.5 out of 5 (650 reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.5 out of 5 (126 reviews)

2. Figma for collaborative design

Figma is a web-based design platform built for seamless team collaboration. Its rich feature set enables designing, prototyping, and gathering feedback across desktop and mobile screens, all from a single UI. Figma's multiplayer workflow allows multiple stakeholders to work within design files in real-time, leading to faster project momentum.

The interactive Figma canvas brings ideas to life with robust vector design tools, powerful shape automation, advanced typography controls, and a vast asset library. Developers can access production code from the platform, leading to easier handoff. Figma's native integration with other tools through its API also keeps teams connected across tools, including UserTesting

Because it allows you to create sharable team libraries and style guides, Figma helps you maintain visual consistency across product interfaces during iterative cycles. Smooth version control empowers documenting the evolution from low to high-fidelity prototypes, all informed by continual user input from built-in testing capabilities.

Top features

Key features of Figma include:

  • Simultaneous design collaboration
  • Unified environment supporting desktop-to-mobile projects
  • Vector design suite with robust graphic tools
  • Interactive prototyping with conditional logic
  • Commenting for design feedback
  • Real-time document sharing across teams
  • Built-in developer handoff features
  • Extensive plugin ecosystem
  • Cloud-based delivering offline access across devices

Benefits of this tool

Figma simplifies key aspects of the design process such as:

  • Accelerating team workflows through seamless collaboration
  • Visualizing concepts rapidly across fidelity levels
  • Frictionless design handoff with code snippets and exportable assets
  • Maintaining design system consistency 
  • Facilitating iterative design with in-line comments and version history
  • Bringing products to market faster via agile cycles

Product reviews

  • G2: 4.7 out of 5 (1,014 reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.8 out of 5 (700 reviews)

3. Sketch for vector-based design and UI creation

Sketch is a UI/UX design platform built for Mac users, delivering professional-grade design capabilities. Harnessing native Apple silicon optimization, Sketch offers a lightning-fast and fluid creative workspace. Its flexible vector-based shapes with customizable boolean operations enable full control over drawing with precision.

Smooth artboards transitioning across documents allow you to dive into details while maintaining the surrounding context. Meanwhile, advanced grid and layout features, such as dynamic symbol linking, streamline the process of building iterative, consistent interfaces. Smooth version history, documentation, and handoff help teams visualize changes over evolving prototypes validated by user input.

With powerful integrated plugins from an active ecosystem and libraries to manage UI components, Sketch simplifies interface workflows from concept to developer handoff. 

Top features

Key aspects of Sketch include:

  • Intuitive UI/UX design environment optimized for Apple silicon
  • Flexible vectors and boolean shape operations
  • Isolated Artboard editing with context awareness
  • Advanced layout and spacing automation
  • Built-in version history and annotations
  • Developer specifications export
  • Robust plugin ecosystem access

Benefits of this tool

Sketch empowers designers through:

  • Pixel-perfect interface prototyping
  • Maintaining consistency via linked libraries
  • Optimized workflows tailored for UI needs
  • Tracking iterative design changes with version history and annotations
  • Streamlined design documentation and handoff
  • Cross-platform collaboration via Figma
  • Rapid realization via an extensive plugin marketplace

Product reviews

  • G2: 4.5 out of 5 (1,201 reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.7 out of 5 (806 reviews)

4. Balsamiq for rapid wireframing and low-fidelity prototyping

Balsamiq is a rapid wireframing platform focused on simplifying early-stage design idea visualization. Its click-and-drag wireframing kit contains many intuitive UI components, making it easy for anyone to mock up concepts. With support for desktop to mobile screens, Balsamiq fosters collaboration via live sharing of wireframes.

Focus Mode, with grid overlays and smart elements, including auto-resizing frames, makes it easy to turn hand-drawn sketches or sticky notes into structured low-fidelity site maps. Interactive widgets can also capture basic user flows and transitions across wireframes. Smooth version control allows you to document iteration on these early prototypes validated internally or with user input.

With plugins connecting Balsamiq into broader ecosystems and collaborative tools such as cloud-based commenting, this purpose-built wireframing solution boosts productivity. Its affordability and ease of use also lower barriers to rapidly ideating quality products and elements.

Top features

Balsamiq's key features include:

  • Intuitive click-and-drag wireframing components
  • Support for primarily low-fidelity, with some light mid-fidelity capabilities
  • Focus Mode's layout overlays
  • Simple linking capabilities for basic user flow visualization
  • Real-time collaboration capabilities
  • Plugin ecosystem for expanded functionality
  • Affordable pricing tiers

Benefits of this tool

Key wireframing perks of Balsamiq include:

  • Rapidly mocking up low-fidelity site maps
  • Visualizing ideas from whiteboard sketches
  • Gathering feedback on concepts internally
  • Linking screens to capture basic transitions
  • Fostering constructive discussions on structure
  • Creating easy-to-iterate prototypes 

Product reviews

  • G2: 4.2 out of 5 (497 reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.4 out of 5 (379 reviews)

5. InVision for interactive prototyping and design handoff

InVision is an end-to-end product design platform supporting teams from early ideation to developer handoff. Its flexible tools allow designers to rapidly transform static mockups into interactive click-through prototypes using gestures and transitions to simulate real experiences. Smooth version history and compare modes visualize iterative changes, informed by continual user feedback captured natively or via integrated third-party tools.

Specifically for prototyping, InVision lets you map user flows across artboards with hotspots, overlays, and cues to directionalize the experience. Micro-interactions and animations immerse users during evaluation. The Inspector panel provides advanced controls for fine-tuning multi-layered transitions to polished standards. 

Integration with engineering collaboration tools like Jira and GitHub via the InVision Design System Manager facilitates developer access to final specifications. Developers can inspect and extract code-ready assets from prototypes alongside redline annotations and specifications documentation to smoothly transition handoff.

Top features

Some of InVision's best features include:

  • Importing static files into interactive prototypes
  • Mapping multi-step user flows across screens
  • Tools to build micro-interactions and animations
  • Seamless version compare and documentation
  • Developer handoff and integration with pipelines

Benefits of this tool

InVision enables product teams to:

  • Give static deliverables life via interactivity
  • Direct user playbacks through guided flows
  • Highlight key moments with micro-animations
  • Continually refine prototypes informed by feedback
  • Smooth engineering workflows via existing platforms

Product reviews

  • G2: 4.4 out of 5 (677 reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.5 out of 5 (743 reviews)

6. Canva for visual assets and presentations

Canva empowers teams of all skill levels to create captivating visual assets and presentations — no design expertise is required. Its intuitive drag-and-drop interface and massive library of customizable templates, fonts, images, videos, and more make creating beautiful social media posts, presentations, posters, reports, and more easier.

Canva's web and mobile apps let you seamlessly incorporate stunning visuals from a built-in stock media library, personalize color schemes, fonts, and shapes, and integrate your brand's visual identity elements with quick clicks. Pre-formatted templates for various mediums and use cases eliminate repetitive setup work, providing a foundation for your teams to add unique content while maintaining consistent positioning and style guidelines.

Canva fosters seamless brand harmony by enabling you to make team folders. These centralized hubs house brand kits, logos, font pairings, and color palettes for effortless reuse across workspaces. 

By enabling quality visual content creation without extensive training, Canva unlocks engaging collateral at speed and scale across mediums, all while ensuring brand continuity. Its collaborative workspaces bridge siloed efforts into impactful delivery. Ultimately, Canva empowers any team member to become a visual communicator, unlocking their creative perspectives through an intuitive canvas.

Top features

Canva's core strengths include the following:

  • Intuitive drag-and-drop visual content builder
  • Modern, customizable templates for all needs
  • Robust media library of images, videos, and more
  • Style match branding capabilities
  • Team workspaces for collaboration
  • Integrations with top apps and platforms
  • Batch automation features
  • Multi-purpose exports and printing

Benefits of this tool

Canva empowers teams to:

  • Produce quality visuals faster without graphic expertise
  • Maintain brand consistency easily
  • Streamline asset reviews and approvals
  • Foster seamless cross-functional collaboration
  • Accelerate delivery across platforms/uses

Product reviews

  • G2: 4.7 out of 5 (4,467 reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.7 out of 5 (11,620 reviews)

7. Webflow for building production-ready websites without coding

Webflow takes web design beyond static mockups so teams can create stunning, interactive websites without a single line of code. Its intuitive interface bridges the gap between design and development, offering tools for crafting pixel-perfect layouts, adding sophisticated animations, and building custom data-driven experiences. 

Webflow's visual development environment makes prototyping interactive features such as hover states, custom scrolls, and dynamic content a breeze. It lets designers preview and fine-tune their designs with real-time feedback before launch.

Beyond the dazzling front end, Webflow boasts a powerful content management system, or CMS, at its core. Using its modular collections feature, you can build complex data models to handle various content types, create custom fields for tailored layouts, and even design custom forms for collecting user information. 

Additionally, collaboration tools like Webflow Workspace and InVision integration streamline the design-to-development handoff. It fosters seamless teamwork and allows you to make your creative vision a reality.

Top features

Webflow's capabilities include:

  • Visual development tools to build sites interactively
  • Robust CMS for dynamic database-connected sites
  • Animations engine for complex transitions
  • Playback to test prototypes and interactions
  • Integrated premium hosting and security
  • Multi-user workspace 
  • Developer export for advanced customization

Benefits of this tool

Webflow enables teams to:

  • Launch sites visually without coding expertise
  • Build complex backends powered by custom data
  • Create polished micro-interactions and flows
  • Preview dynamic designs early

Product reviews

  • G2: 4.4 out of 5 (526 reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.5 out of 5 (232 reviews)

8. SolidWorks for precision 3D modeling and mechanical design

SolidWorks isn't just software for 3D modeling; it's a comprehensive engineering ecosystem that empowers users to bring their product ideas to life. You can use the program's parametric modeling tools to make precise and detailed models. Then, you can experiment with and refine designs virtually before committing to physical prototypes.

But SolidWorks goes beyond static models. You can breathe life into your creations with photorealistic rendering, showcasing designs with detailed visuals. However, SolidWorks' true power lies in bridging the gap between design and manufacturing.

With integrated simulation capabilities, you can test the performance of your designs digitally, optimizing them for strength, durability, and efficiency before committing to costly physical prototypes. This iterative testing loop translates to accelerated development cycles and products that reach the market faster, giving users a competitive edge.

Additionally, powerful data management tools ensure secure and easy collaboration across teams, keeping everyone on the same page. Integrations with Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) solutions via SOLIDWORKS Model-Based Definition eliminate translation errors and support communication with manufacturers. 

Top features

SolidWorks' core functionalities span:

  • Parametric 3D modeling with advanced assembly tools
  • Photorealistic rendering and animation
  • Integrated engineering simulations for stress, thermal, and other analyses
  • Manufacturing-ready design with tight CAM integration
  • Cloud-based data management and collaboration
  • Mobile access for on-the-go insights

Benefits of this tool

With SolidWorks, your teams can:

  • Model and visualize product ideas in 3D
  • Digitally validate performance and optimize designs
  • Streamline collaboration across design, engineering, and manufacturing
  • Control design data throughout the product lifecycle
  • Share ideas iteratively with stakeholders

Product reviews

  • G2: 4.4 out of 5 (545 reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.7 out of 5 (720 reviews)

9. LabVIEW for custom test and control system development

LabVIEW is a unique visual programming platform designed to accelerate the development and testing of custom engineering systems. Its intuitive graph-based language empowers users to code control processes, test sequences, and data collection workflows by connecting functional nodes visually, eliminating the need for traditional lines of code. This simplified abstraction allows even those without extensive software expertise to automate and orchestrate complex interactions within their systems.

Integrated debugging tools provide real-time visibility into execution. That way, your teams can refine their automation workflows quickly and efficiently. Extensive hardware compatibility and a vast library of plugins further minimize the time spent integrating with various sensors, scanners, and other equipment system prototypes may require. This combination of simplified coding and efficient debugging allows you to build functional, testable models within days, significantly reducing development times that could otherwise stretch to weeks or months.

Top features

Here are some of LabVIEW's core aspects:

  • Intuitive visual dataflow-based coding
  • Drag-and-drop function palette for tasks
  • Timed sequencing and control execution
  • Integrated debugging in real-time
  • Extended hardware compatibility via plugins
  • Automation exporting and documentation

Benefits of this tool

LabVIEW enables you to:

  • Code automation tasks without software expertise
  • Virtually wire system components and data flows
  • Prototype custom interfaces 
  • Accelerate test engineering development

Product reviews

  • G2: 4.3 out of 5 (190 reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.5 out of 5 (17 reviews)

10. AutoCAD for precise 2D and 3D drafting and design

AutoCAD has a reputation as the cornerstone of architectural drafting and construction planning. However, its capabilities extend beyond blueprints and building permits, enabling precise 2D drafting and 3D modeling across various industries.

From product designers meticulously sketching intricate components to mechanical engineers building complex machines, AutoCAD can cater to various individual needs. Its customizable user interface and dedicated toolsets are excellent for diverse workflows, whether creating detailed schematics for electrical systems, drafting precise landscape diagrams, or crafting compelling design concepts with photorealistic rendering.

AutoCAD's impact transcends its association with construction by fostering collaboration throughout project lifecycles. Shared views and integrated markup tools facilitate effective communication between engineers and designers, while web and mobile access ensures everyone stays in the loop, regardless of location. Additionally, integrations with industry-specific software extend AutoCAD's reach, connecting with manufacturing applications or building management platforms for streamlined execution.

Top features

Core aspects of AutoCAD include:

  • Precision 2D drafting and 3D modeling with dedicated tools for various disciplines
  • Customizable user interface for personalized workflows
  • Industry-specific toolsets for efficient design within diverse fields
  • Photorealistic rendering for captivating concept visualization
  • Web and mobile sharing with collaboration tools like view and markup
  • Extensive integrations with industry-specific software
  • Model-based workflows for complex project management

Benefits of this tool

AutoCAD enables:

  • Streamlined workflows and enhanced productivity across disciplines
  • Precise drafting and a meticulous design for various needs
  • Effective collaboration and communication within and across teams

Product reviews

  • G2: 4.4 out of 5 (1,335 reviews)
  • Capterra: 4.7 out of 5 (2,963 reviews)

Key takeaways

Regarding product development, the right product designer tools can significantly streamline your design workflow and boost productivity. The 10 tools mentioned in this article offer a range of features and functionalities catering to different design needs and stages of the design process.

Whether you're focused on user-centered design, collaborative prototyping, wireframing, 3D modeling, or usability testing, there's a tool for every requirement. By integrating these tools into your design workflow, your teams can achieve better product-market fit and deliver exceptional user experiences.

Frequently asked questions

Why is product design testing important?

Product design testing is critical for validating concepts and designs with representative users. It provides actionable qualitative feedback and quantitative data to identify friction points and improvement areas early instead of post-product launch. It also helps your teams' course correct through agile iteration cycles. That way, they can quickly create experiences that are better aligned with user needs and expectations. Over the long term, a testing-focused process fosters competitive, customer-centric products.

What are the different phases and methods used in product design testing?

Product design testing involves several phases, including user research, prototyping, and usability testing. User research in product design involves understanding user needs and behaviors through interviews, surveys, and observation. Prototyping involves creating low-fidelity or high-fidelity representations of the product to gather feedback. Usability testing involves observing users interacting with the product to identify issues and gathering feedback on its overall usability.

What different tools do product designers use for efficient design?

They employ a combination of product design apps to streamline the design process and enhance efficiency. CAD software enables them to create precise 3D models, while prototyping tools such as Sketch and Figma aid in interactive prototype development. Usability testing platforms such as UserTesting facilitate remote or in-person testing so you can gather valuable insights. Using these tools, product designers can elevate collaboration, iterate efficiently, and deliver high-quality designs.

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