What are the most popular UX software tools? UX Question #20

Watch on YouTube

YouTube player

Listen to the podcast

Read the transcript

Chris from New Orleans, Louisiana, asks, What are the most popular UX software tools?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Chris. This is UX Question number 20 and I am Ben Judy.

What are the most popular UX software tools? Well, if you just want industry survey data, the best source for that is at UXTools.co.

Jordan Bowman and Taylor Palmer run this web site and each year they administer a survey and publish analysis of the most commonly used tools for UX research, ideation, workshopping, wireframing, prototyping, and so forth.

There are also hundreds of articles published online each year with lists of popular tools and analysis from experts. UX Design Institute has a pretty good example of that kind of article.

I’ll put links in the show description.

What you’ll find right now, in 2023, is that Figma is by far the most popular tool for UI design. Miro is tops for digital whiteboarding. Maze is the most popular user testing tool.

I could go on reading the results of the survey and these more opinion-based blog articles. But here’s some free advice: don’t get too enamored with what’s popular right now. Tools are trendy, and trends change over time. And more quickly than you might think.

When I started doing web design in the late 1990’s the popular UI design tools were Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. Those were your options. Basically, do you want to do it vector based, or do you want to push pixels? So even when I joined Travelocity.com in 2005, we did our web UI design in Axure for low-fi wireframes and Photoshop for hi fi.

And throughout my career there’s been this parade of design tools coming and going. First it was Photoshop, then Macromedia Fireworks came along and that was so much better, then Adobe bought Macromedia and let Fireworks die on the vine, but along came Sketch and Sketch was amazing! Then Figma popped up and ate Sketch’s lunch. Well, now Adobe has bought Figma and who knows what’s going to happen. I guarantee you in five to seven years something will be more popular than Figma. It’s the same for research tools, too.

Don’t get married to tools because they will come and go. Become an expert at quickly learning new tools, adapting your workflow and evolving your tool knowledge, and focus on outcomes. What are you trying to achieve as a UX professional? Pick the best tool for the outcome, taking into consideration the teams or people you’re collaborating with, the budget and resources you have, and other factors.

I’ve done hi fi UI designs in Keynote and in Google Slides. Spreadsheets are great for analysis of research data. You just use what works best for the job contextually.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: How can I avoid taking design feedback personally?

Referenced in this episode:



Support UX Questions

Visit us on Patreon and check out the great perks at each level of support!

Become a sponsor

You can advertise your products or services—our promote yourself as a UX professional—by sponsoring episodes of UX Questions! Send an email to userexperiencequestions@gmail.com and ask for details.

Hire Ben Judy

Ben is available for consulting engagements as a workshop facilitator, mentor, design coach, and more! Send an email to userexperiencequestions@gmail.com and ask for details.