24 Web Design Tools and Apps For Designers in 2020
Your best work is done when you’re being productive, and to be productive, you need tools that feel effortless to use.
Web design requires precise attention to detail, especially when it comes to creating seamless user experiences.
Fortunately, modern web design tools are built around the idea of effectiveness and productivity. Browsing each individual element within an UI kit sounds painful, doesn’t it?
Luckily, most modern graphic design tools can provide a streamlined library experience for browsing and adding elements to your designs, whether you’re building your portfolio or producing client work.
Top Web Design Tools & Apps for Designers
In this post, we’ll explore the most trending and sought-after web design tools and apps as we head into 2020.
Chances are, some of these tools and apps are already a part of your existing workflow. And the ones that aren’t, you can rest assured are going to provide improvements to your web design process as the year unfolds.
Sketch is one of the most well-known design tools on the market. It’s known for its minimal yet robust UI that focuses on providing a pixel-perfect (literally!) designing environment.
In recent years, Sketch has expanded its horizons to include third-party integrations and a library of hundreds of community-built plugins. These days, Sketch can handle things like animations, templates, real-time collaboration, and other modern design necessities.
For more, check out 15 Useful Sketch App Resources & Freebies For Designers.
Pricing: $99 per year.
Alternatives: Affinity Designer, Figma, FluidUI.
AI is industry-level vector graphics editing software. It’s a household name that existed long before software like Sketch and Affinity came along. And even though AI is being given a run for its money, the software remains one of the best available for creating stunning vector graphics and illustrations.
One of the advantages of using Adobe’s software is that it integrates seamlessly with other Adobe products—Photoshop, InDesign, and XD are well-known software solutions in web designer circles. Having a way to combine them all can make for a powerful workflow experience. The only caveat: Adobe isn’t the cheapest option on the market.
Pricing: $20.99 per month (paid yearly) for single app.
Alternatives: Inkscape, Pixlr, Gravit, GIMP.
Figma transforms ideas into real products. You can design UX/UI, prototype, wireframe, collect feedback, and brainstorm all from the same dashboard. As browser-based software, Figma enables teams to come together and collaborate on designs in real-time.
It’s arguably the fastest-growing web design tool on the market today, surpassing the likes of Sketch, AI, and other prominent design tools. So if you haven’t yet checked out Figma, give it a go.
Pricing: Free plan available. Premium plans start at $12 per editor per month.
Alternatives: Affinity Designer, Sketch, FluidUI.
Products start as ideas. Ideas then turn into visual previews. And so on and on. But, what software do you use when it comes to prototyping an idea into a visual preview? Fluid UI is a reliable prototyping tool that can turn ideas into workable previews within minutes.
The large database of UI kits and design elements, combined with real-time collaboration, makes FluidUI a superb choice for all-things prototype.
Pricing: Starts at $8.25 per month.
Alternatives: Affinity Designer, Figma, Sketch.
There is always room for more great graphic design tools, and Serif’s Affinity product line is well-known for its impeccable quality. Affinity Designer (for Mac & Windows) is a precision-based vector graphics design software. It’s best known for helping graphic designers to create illustrations, icons, web graphics, UI/UX designs, and more.
Best of all, Affinity Designer is available for use on iPad devices. Now, you have no excuse not to let your inspiration shine when the right moment comes. The iPad version has been optimized to provide a professional-standard graphic design experience through a portable device.
Pricing: One time price of $79.99.
Alternatives: FluidUI, Figma, Sketch.
Zeplin helps to ease the pain of having to manually write style specs for your designs. Whether you work with Sketch or Figma, Zeplin lets you important design files from all major graphic design software. Developers can get instant access to pixel-perfect specs for all design assets.
With Zeplin, you can collaborate on design optimization in real-time. So, even when you move something 2px to the side, everyone on the team will instantly know about it. Need specifics? Just click on an element within your design and instantly generate a working code snippet.
Pricing: Free plan available. Premium version starts at $17 per month.
Alternatives: InVision, Figma, Avocode.
Framer acts as a universal framework for designing interactive layouts for your apps and products. You can start each design by drawing an outline, applying style, and optimizing the layout. Further, start adding life to your designs by using pre-existing (React) components. The components can be code written by you, or you can use components provided by others.
For more, check out 17 Rock Solid Website Layout Examples for 2018.
Pricing: Free plan available. Premium version starts at $12 per month.
Alternatives: InVision, AdobeXD, Origami Studio.
8. Laws of UX
It’s quite easy to get caught up with all the tools and apps that make web design so much fun. But, professional web design has always been about the user experience. And when you’re pumping out cool-looking vectors or building the next kick-ass button sets, UX as a whole can slip your mind.
The Laws of UX is a site put together by Jon Yablonski. In his own words, “Laws of UX is a collection of the maxims and principles that designers can consider when building user interfaces.” In total, there are 19 of these “laws,” each complemented with real example, descriptions, and additional reading materials.
Perhaps not something you need to read every day, but helpful to study once a year to refresh your memory on tidbits you might have forgotten about.
Website, application, or product design — it’s all a process. And Marvel’s goal is to simplify that process by providing a seamless design platform. Choose between prototyping custom screens or importing existing files from Photoshop and Sketch.
Link together different design elements to bootstrap a prototype that feels like a real app does. Marvel adds native support to create prototypes for devices such as Apple Watch, iPhone, Apple TV, iPad, Desktop, and Android.
Pricing: Free plan available. Premium version starts at $12 per month.
Alternatives: InVision, Balsamiq Wireframes, Adobe XD.
Avocode helps teams to build apps and products that follow the exact timeline of their designs. It’s the perfect solution to bridge the gap between designers and developers who are collaborating. Select your Sketch, Figma, XD or Photoshop design files and have Avocode transform them into meaningful style guides and specs.
As a cloud-based app, Avocode runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac machines.
Pricing: Starts at $14 per month.
Alternatives: Sketch, Marvel, Zeplin.
Animations in design are getting more and more popular. And apps like Spirit are here to help integrate real-time animations inside the browser. This timeline-based app provides a simple way to add exciting and fun animations to your designs.
Pricing: Free plan available. Premium version starts at $12 per month.
Alternatives: Hype, SVG Animation Assistant.
Wireframes by Whimsical is a sophisticated browser-based app that’s used for creating seamless product/app/website prototypes. Whether you’re designing for mobile or desktop, Whimsical can adapt to your needs seamlessly.
Working on something together as a team? Not a problem, just use the real-time collaboration feature. It’s the perfect solution to take with you wherever you go. Long train rides, or whenever inspiration strikes, load up your live link and edit away.
Pricing: Free plan available. Premium version starts at $10 per user per month.
Alternatives: draw.io, Balsamiq Wireframes.
Overflow is a new solution for creating user flows based on your existing designs. Expect this powerful app to make its name known as one of the better web design tools in 2019. You can import Sketch, Photoshop, Figma and other design files and instantly create a user flow that makes sense.
Share your flows as documentation files or simple references for team members to refer back to when in development/design stages.
Pricing: Beta version available to download for free.
Sunsama is what you would expect to get if Trello and Google Docs had a baby together. This daily workflow app is packed with nifty little features to make your planning easier, and more efficient.
Working on something as a team? Perfect! Sunsama caters to team environments and enables for fun real-time collaboration. If you’re part of a remote team, this app is a godsend when it comes to managing day-to-day tasks effectively.
Pricing: Currently in beta so you need to request access.
Alternatives: Trello, Asana.
As a freelance designer, you are your own boss. And while that can seem like a great thing in most cases, it can also lead to bad habits and poor working patterns. Distraction is the enemy, and freelancers are prone to high-level distractions more than anyone else.
Qbserve is a Mac-based time tracking solution to help track and increase your productivity. It’s able to monitor your habits and working patterns with astounding precision. Are you checking Reddit far too often? Maybe Email has turned into a habit rather than a productive activity?
Analyze your working performance to the very last minute, and see where you can improve.
Pricing: Available to download for free. Premium version a once-off payment of $40.
Alternatives: Toggl, Harvest.
iotaCSS is a simple but effective CSS-based framework for building design-agnostic interfaces. In some ways, it works as a SASS generator. With the major difference being in how it handles dynamic variables. A framework like Bootstrap is generally using opinionated values, whereas iotaCSS allows you to specify a dynamic value for all elements within an interface.
17. Adobe Capture
Not everything needs to be designed on the computer. Adobe’s Capture is a brilliant mobile-based application for turning real-life photos into digital design assets.
Download the app and start taking photos right away. Elements from photos can be turned into color palettes, patterns, brushes, shapes, and other design features. Capture can help with things like font identification in the real world. Just snap a photo of a particular font, and Capture will try to analyze its identity in real-time.
Alternatives: Adobe Photoshop.
Accessibility is something that’s easily forgotten, overlooked even. But, there’s an increasing demand for designs that have accessibility features enabled. And libraries like Ally.js are trying to solve this issue once and for all.
Using Ally.js, you can control which elements are in focus and which ones aren’t. As an example, if you’re using a specific modal widget to display data, with Ally.js you can isolate the modal within its own frame until the modal is closed.
Additionally, Ally.js API can be used to map out your entire design. Can a specific element be tabbed to? What happens when an element is out of focus?
Alternatives: Web accessibility.
Everyone needs a bit of inspiration in their life. Great designs don’t just happen unexpectedly. It’s a process, a combination of experience, knowledge, and inspiration.
Mobbin is a web-based library storing collections of hand-picked mobile design patterns across iOS-based apps. With hundreds of apps and thousand of patterns, Mobbin is great for seeing how other designers tackle specific approaches to UI and UX.
There’s always room for new icons and vectors to use in your designs. Icons8 has matured as one of the leading free graphic design platforms, and their library includes more than 86,000 icons. Each icon has multiple styles, can be downloaded as SVG or PNG file, and you can go customize icon appearance directly in the browser.
Alternatives: Flat Icon.
Paletton is not your typical color scheme generator. As a custom built browser-app, Paletton makes intelligent suggestions on color scheme palettes for your designs. Whether you are working on page layouts or creative artworks, this generator will match a subset of colors in a way that makes your design shine.
For more, check out How to Design with a Monochromatic Color Scheme.
Alternatives: Colordot, Colorcode, Coolors.
Pricing: Available to use for free. Pro version available for $8 per month.
Alternatives: JSFiddle, JSFiddle.
What are people working on? What’s trending in the design space over the last month or so? Dribbble is an excellent place to share your work, but also to make new connections and explore other creative designers. There’s just so much inspiration to be found—and also a plethora of free design resources in the form of vectors, icons, and UI kits.
For more, check out Do You Use Dribbble for Good or Evil?
Pricing: Available for free, or upgrade to Pro for $5 per month.
unDraw has caught the attention of many designers who enjoy using open-source resources for their projects. This library of open-source illustrations will compliment an existing or a new design for which you need a specific image.
Illustrations can be found using keywords, and there’s an added benefit of real-time color management. Don’t like the default blue? Just generate a color that works with your designs’ color scheme. Custom colors are automatically applied to all illustrations.
Creating your best work is about more than just getting your ideas onto the page, so to speak. When you’ve got the right design tools loaded up on your computer, you can work faster, collaborate more easily with colleagues, and even have fun discovering new features in apps you’re using for the first time.
If you’ve been using the same design solutions for as long as you can remember, give some of the tools and resources on this list a go. They could help shake up your day-to-day workflow and get you working more productively—and even replace some of your old favorites.
Have we missed a tool or resources on this list that you love? Let us know in the comments below!