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The 18 best software tools to create a successful web app design
It’s easy to get caught up in the sheer number of design tools available for web applications—and choosing the right web app design software can be a major challenge.
Check out our list of the best web app design software out there, and learn how and when to use each tool so you can get straight to building a web app your users will love.
Discover what your users want in a web app
Explore user behavior and collect valuable feedback with Hotjar’s product experience insights tools.
3 types of web app design tools
Web app design tools are divided into three phases: research, prototyping, and testing.
During the research phase, use tools to explore potential markets and discover user personas and needs. This occurs before your web app has been designed or developed, and the tools you use during this stage will help you create your ideal customer profile and validate early ideas.
The prototyping phase involves brainstorming and designing the layout of your web app. During this phase, use tools to visualize and build the interface and functionality you want your web app to have.
During the testing phase, figure out what works and what doesn’t with your web app. In this phase, you’ll be running tests to analyze user behavior, simulate performance load, and learn how users interact with your app to make sure that everything works as it should.
Key research tools for web app design
Research tools help you determine exactly what type of user you are designing for. The two types of research tools are:
Feedback tools that help you understand your potential users more deeply
Persona research tools that help you design your ideal user persona
1. Google Forms
With Google Forms, you can easily create surveys to send to your potential customers or current users so you can design your web app around their jobs to be done. Use these forms to ask what your users are hoping to accomplish with your web app, what types of features they’re looking for, and what types of layouts they prefer.
Price: free for individual users and also available for businesses through G Suite, which starts at $6/month per user.
2. Hotjar Ask tools
Hotjar Ask tools help you:
Easily build surveys and feedback forms
Distribute unique customer satisfaction survey questions
Capture real-time user opinions
Get helpful context to understand why users respond to your web app the way they do
Synthesize and share survey responses through intuitive dashboards and integrations
With Hotjar’s extensive library of survey templates, you don’t have to waste time figuring out what you want to ask your users. Choose from a range of relevant topics, including product-market fit, exit-intent, and user pain points surveys.
Price: the free Basic plan comes with 20 monthly user responses. Paid plans begin at 250 monthly responses for $47.
Hearing directly from your customers is key to understanding their experience, which is where SurveyMonkey comes in. With SurveyMonkey, you can send out custom surveys, plus draw from the tool’s extensive ‘question bank’ if you don’t know quite what to ask your users and prospective customers.
Then, you can score your surveys and estimate their success rates. Paid plans allow you to analyze the data you collect and discover any statistically significant discrepancies between response groups.
Price: basic plans are free, with Standard plans starting at $99/month for individual users, and Team Advantage plans starting at $25/month per user. Enterprise options are also available.
User persona research tools
You need to know your users’ goals and setbacks to design an effective solution. Creating user personas is key if you want to understand patterns in user behavior and design an app that exceeds expectations. Use HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool to outline demographic details like the age, education level, and profession of your target personas, and envision their responsibilities, objectives, and challenges.
UXPressia helps you create a customer journey map and design user personas. This tool is especially useful for B2C companies who need to clearly envision the ecommerce customer journey to design their web app.
With UXPressia, you can also integrate web analytics tools to update your customer journey maps with relevant data without any manual input.
Price: free plans allow you to create one project; the Starter plan comes with three projects and begins at $16/month per user.
Tools for the web app design prototyping phase
Web app prototyping phase tools are used when designing the architecture, interface, and, eventually, functionality of your web app. The two main types are:
Wireframing tools to design the layout and structure of your web app
Prototyping tools to create an early working model of your web app
Shivani Prasad, a UX designer at Morgan Stanley who has worked on the design of multiple web apps, shares her favorite tools for this phase:
Figma and Miro have so many features and offerings to support creating great designs. There’s a lot of thinking and information processing that UX designers do prior to even getting to the drawing board, and a key feature among these tools are their collaborative capabilities! Collaboration is crucial to design, and these tools allow design teams to design and communicate in real-time.
6. Adobe XD
Adobe XD is a great tool for creating low-fidelity (simple and low-tech) mockups and wireframes, and its built-in UI kits and icon libraries can help just about anyone design a wireframe for their web app.
Plus, wireframes can be easily shared with other members of your team, as well as external designers and developers. When your mockup is done, the software helps you turn it into a prototype and map out the user flow.
Price: plans start at $9.99/month.
Sketch is another excellent web app wireframing solution, as it allows everyone on your team to collaborate in the creation of your web app mockup. Hundreds of plugins and integrations let you customize your tech stack and continue using all the UX research tools that work best for you.
Price: the Standard plan costs $9/month per editor, with custom Business plans also available (minimum of 25 editors).
Note: Sketch is native to macOS, so while it’s an excellent option for Apple users, it may not be the best choice if you work with Windows.
Miro is another great tool that allows you to collaborate with team members and create a wireframe for your web app. One of Miro’s most interesting features is its user flow template, which is incredibly useful for web app UX design analysis.
Miro is packed with other functions like product roadmapping, project planning, and marketing campaign design tools, which can keep your web app design process organized and on track.
Price: free for up to three editable boards, then paid plans start at $8/month per team member for unlimited boards.
Balsamiq is a trusted wireframing solution known for its simplicity and usability. Just about anyone can use it to design the mockup of a web app, from project managers to experienced designers.
Balsamiq wireframes are low-fidelity, simple layouts of your web app design, so the software is best used in the early phases of your design stage.
Price: plans start at $9/month for two projects and go up to $199/month for 200 projects.
Figma lets you transform your design from static to interactive, and the no-coding platform is easy to use— just about anyone can create a feature-rich web app.
With Figma, you create advanced transitions and dynamic overlays in a prototype that can be easily shared with a simple link. Figma allows for integration with numerous other tools like Notion, Pendo, Slack, and Asana.
Price: the Starter plan is free and allows for the creation of three Figma files, and paid plans start at $12/month per editor (with unlimited Figma files allowed).
Webflow is another code-free tool that allows just about anyone to build a custom prototype for their web app. You can buy templates and use them to prototype the web app your users dream of to see how it works.
Price: there is a free version available, and paid plans start at $12/month.
Design your web app prototype in InVision, which lets you include interactions, transitions, overlays, and other dynamic elements. You can also use the tool to collaborate with other members of your team and collect feedback directly within your prototypes on the software.
InVision integrates with Sketch, so if that’s the web app design software you’re using for your wireframes, this is probably the best prototyping tool for you.
Price: there is a free plan available, which allows for up to 100 users, and paid plans start at $4/month per active user for up to 200 users.
The last of our web app design platforms for prototyping is Proto.io: this tool lets you design actions, sequential interactions, interactive UI elements, and more for your web app prototype.
You’ll also get access to UI component libraries, templates, an icon library, and UX design patterns—all while maintaining the option to create your own custom components. When you’re done, your prototype can be easily shared and exported with team members or stakeholders, helping you get the buy-in you need.
Price: plans start at $29/month for one user (Freelancer plan) and go up to $199/month for 10 users (Corporate plan).
Testing tools for web app design
Web app design testing tools are key to making your application's experience seamless and enjoyable for users to interact with. The two key types of web app testing tools are:
User behavior tools to explore how your users interact with your web app
Web app performance tools to check your web app functions as it should
"Keeping your decision-making data-informed and user-centric is the best thing you can do for your business. There are several tools you can implement on a web app, such as Google Analytics or Hotjar, to do so. These tools allow you to keep an eye on user behavior while helping you stay in contact with those users."
User behavior tools
14. Hotjar Observe tools
Hotjar's Observe tools will give you valuable insights into how your users experience your web app. By understanding user behavior, you'll determine which parts of your web app work and which elements can be improved.
Hotjar Heatmaps show you the popular parts of your web app that draw users in and which parts get ignored so you can adjust elements to maximize user engagement. Use Recordings to go deeper: see firsthand how your users interact with your UI and compare the user journeys for web app visitors who convert into paying customers and those who bounce.
This mix of qualitative and quantitative user research will help you design a web app your users love interacting with.
Price: the free Basic plan comes with 35 daily sessions. Paid plans begin at 100 daily sessions for $31/month.
Pro tip: also use Hotjar Observe tools to compare web app usage patterns between different devices. User habits can vary significantly between desktop, smartphone, and tablets, and you need to design for all of these cases.
15. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a comprehensive tool that gives you an overview of important user insights. Not only can you analyze how your users are interacting with your web app now, but Google machine learning allows you to anticipate future user actions as well.
With the data Google Analytics (GA) provides on how users are finding and navigating your web app, you can create reports and analyze trends to put these findings into action and continually optimize your web app.
Price: GA offers a comprehensive free version, as well as a 360 version that starts at $12,500/month.
Pro tip: while Google Analytics is great for tracking and evaluating data, it doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about your users. Combine Hotjar with Google Analytics to get a bigger picture of how your users are behaving—and why—to improve your web app's conversion rates and user experience.
Web app performance tools
Selenium's main objective is to automate web applications for testing purposes: it shows you how your web app works on various browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer.
Selenium isn’t as straightforward a tool as the previous web app design software we’ve suggested. There’s a learning curve, so your team may need help from developers and programmers to actually start testing your web app.
Price: it's a free open-source tool, but you’ll have to invest in developer time to make use of it.
Watir, which stands for Web Application Testing in Ruby, is actually powered by Selenium. It is an open-source Ruby (a programming language) library to automate your web app tests.
The best thing about Watir is that it tests your web app in the same way that real users would interact with it, by trying out features, clicking on links, and filling in forms to help you fix the bugs that are most likely to cause user issues.
Price: Watir is a free open-source tool, but you'll have to invest in developer time to make use of it.
From Radview Software, WebLOAD is a performance and load testing tool that helps you make product changes to prevent loading issues and performance bottlenecks. Once you run your performance tests, you’ll get helpful insights on hundreds of metrics.
Web apps are designed to be interacted with, with plenty of responsive features, so if you have many users on your app at one time, WebLOAD will help you ensure the experience lives up to user expectations.
Let’s say you’re an ecommerce business that runs an annual sale. You need to make sure your web app will perform well even with an increased number of users and avoid crashes or delays. Tools like WebLOAD are the way to do it.
Price: free for up to 50 virtual users, or request a quote for paid plans for up to 1,000 or more users (Professional and Enterprise plans).
How to choose the right web app design software
The type of web app design software you’ll need depends on which design phase you find yourself in. If you’re just getting started, be sure to make the most of the research phase tools we listed above to collect user feedback and design user personas.
Next, prototyping tools help you design the wireframes, mockups, and prototypes of your web app. Finally, once you’ve built your web app and want to make sure it’s working as well as it can, use testing software like user behavior tools and performance testing tools to see if everything is running smoothly.
Even once your tool is live, you should keep using web app software, like Hotjar Observe and Ask tools, to do continuous discovery and make modifications and optimizations users will love.
You should also keep your team’s level of expertise in mind when deciding on your tech stack. While some web app design tools are simple to use, others require more experience and background knowledge, so be sure to choose software everyone on your team can make the most of.
Make the most of web app design software
Choosing the right software is one of the most important web app design best practices. Selecting the right tools can help you design a powerful, user-friendly interface that will turn your web app visitors into loyal users.
Pay close attention to what phase of the web application design process you’re in so you can choose the best design software to support you in creating a web app your users can’t get enough of.
Discover what your users want in a web app
Explore user behavior and collect valuable feedback with Hotjar’s product experience insights tools