The No-Code Prototype2020-04-27
There is a common misconception that to build a first prototype (sometimes called an MVP) of a web or mobile app, you need to know how to code, know someone that knows how to code, or pay someone that knows how to code lots of money. With an initial prototype, you are just trying to test your main assumptions and see if you are making something people actually want. There are now many platforms where you can do this without any coding knowledge. This is by no means an exhaustive list; it’s a flavour of what’s out there.
The platforms listed below differ in some of their capabilities but their basic purpose is the same. They allow you to draw out quite sophisticated mock-ups of each page of your website or app using a drag and drop interface. And they allow you to link these pages together to simulate the function of a real app. You can use these as starting points to speak to developers and investors, which is how some founders we have interviewed started out.
The consensus around Axure is that the learning curve is a little steeper than some other platforms but it can be used to produce very powerful, high fidelity prototypes. It is very popular with people in the industry. This might be the way to go if you are prototyping more complex apps.
30-day Free Trial available
Pro Tier – $29/month – Unlimited prototypes; Unlimited reviewers
Team Tier – $49/month – Co-Authoring; Revision history
Bubble’s infrastructure also handles deployment and hosting so this platform can also be used to scale up an initial prototype into a fully functioning web app.
Free tier – Core platform features
Personal tier – $25/month – custom domain, email support, etc.
Professional tier – $115/month – 3 units of server capacity; 2 development versions
Production tier – $475/month – 10 units of server capacity; 20 development versions
Figma provides features like animation and version control which some of the other platforms mentioned here cannot provide.
Free tier – up to 2 editors; 3 projects
Professional tier – $12 per editor/month – unlimited projects
Organization tier – $45 per editor/month – all features of professional tier plus extra features like private plugins and centralized teams.
Invision is also rated highly by industry experts, and you can smoothly integrate your prototype with collaboration apps like Slack and Dropbox.
Free tier – 1 prototype
Starter tier – $15/month – 3 prototypes
Professional tier – $25/month – unlimited prototypes
Team tier – $99/month – Up to 5 members; unlimited prototypes
Marvel provides webinars and good documentation so you can learn to use the platform quickly.
Free tier – 1 user; 1 project
Pro tier – $12/month – 1 user; unlimited projects
Team tier – $42/month – Starts at 3 users; unlimited projects
Team plus tier – $84/month – Starts at 6 users; unlimited projects
Which of these platforms you should use depends on your purpose. If you are looking at going through as much of the process as possible without doing any coding, Bubble is probably the way to go. If you are looking to prototype an idea quickly, Figma, Invision or Marvel seem like the better choices, with Figma being the simplest platform to use of the three in the opinion of some industry experts.
If you have the patience to hop around these platforms, you will be able to produce quite a few prototypes of different ideas at no cost.
*Pricing as of the date of publication