Best Tools for a New UXer to learn?


I’m sure this has probably been asked before but it’s probably worth asking again:

What are the top 5 tools you think a new UXer should learn and why? Categories could include wireframing, prototyping, illustration, survey tools, other research tools but feel free to suggest whatever you think is appropriate.

Good laptop for beginning designer?

I like Sketch for both wireframes and prototypes :slight_smile:


Yes I’ve been spending most of my wireframing/early prototyping time in Sketch 3. I’m not great at handrawing and prefer to work on the computer but at the same time I realize how important a skill it is to be able to quickly whiteboard ideas in collaboration with others.


I’m the type of person who jumps right into illustrator first (though I’m trying to use paper). What does Sketch do for me that I wouldn’t have in Illustrator? Is it the preview and the live interaction? Is there a workflow that would give the same thing from Illustrator?

Adobe XD may answer that last question for me but I haven’t mucked around enough to know and wouldn’t be able to compare it to any other tool anyway.


@SgiobairOg I think the main advantage is that Sketch is made specifically FOR ux designers. So you have easy access to symbols and interface elements that are specific to that function, there are new plugins for Sketch coming soon that turn it into a lightweight tool to create interactive prototypes.

You can do many of the same things in Illustrator but AI will always be a generalized vector drawing tool, while Sketch is more specifically targeted at UX. It may sound simplistic but I think that will continue to be its main advantage. That said, Illustrator skills seems to be oft asked for by employers.


I’m a fan of Balsamiq for wireframing.
I’m also a heavy user of Adobe products for illustration. I think it’s a huge advantage for anyone to know their way around PhotoShop and Illustrator, even just the basics.


@HAWK couldn’t be more right about learning PhotoShop and Illustrator. So many jobs will ask for experience in these programs, and they’re considered staples in the design world. What’s more, there are so many tutorials out there that make picking things up easy.

It used to be that Photoshop and Illustrator were out of the price range of most beginning design professionals. While the decision to move to a subscription model for licensing these software programs was controversial within the design communities, one thing it’s done is put these tools well within reach of anyone. You can get access to Photoshop and Lightroom (a companion app) for a mere $10/month, or access to the full Adobe Creative Suite, including Illustrator, Photoshop, Lightroom, and so much more, for $50/month.

Sorry if that seems a bit like an ad. As someone that grew up having to… ahem… procure copies of software in creative ways, I think it’s great that these programs are now available to anyone who wants to use them (and has at least $10 extra each month).


OK, I’m going to put this list forward as a strawman and let you all shoot at it!

Mindmaps or IA Design Software Tool: Coggle
Wireframing: Sketch 3
Prototyping: Invision
Online Card Sorting: Optimal Workshop
General Online Survey: SurveyMonkey
Presentations: Keynote or Powerpoint
General Vector Illustration: Adobe Illustrator
General Image Manipulation: Adobe Photoshop
Online Persona Creation Tool:

Holes/Need Recommendations for

Other Research Related Software
Interaction Design
Interface Design
Visual Design
Style Guides




I’d recommend OmniGraffle for wireframing though I have Sketch on my list of programs to learn. I think the learning curve for OmniGraffle is lower in comparison to Sketch though Sketch is more powerful. has courses for learning Sketch, OmniGraffle, and Axure. I’d highly recommend checking out for learning software (I don’t have any affiliation to them, just a happy customer).


Balsamiq, InVision, Zeplin, Sketch, are a few of my favorites. I can’t agree more with this blog on best UX tools. Killer Design Tools to Enhance the Scope of User Experience


Here is good article about designers toolbox with full list of UX tools that you can use. I think that it’s mostly for novices, because complete professionals already know all these instruments.


If you know how to use illustrator then I’d think you’d pick up how to use Sketch in a day if not a few hours. The biggest strength(s) that I think sketch has is that its basically strips away the print options and puts layout design tools up front along with all of the helpful plugins that enable prototyping very easily.


Hi @SteveCrow, much agree with your complied list, but I still suggest you to take another look at this post giving the best wireframing and mockup tools for anyone standing on crossroads in UX. Hope this helps and thanks for all your efforts to help us all!


Hi Steve,

Thanks for your nice compilation. It seems pretty coherent to me, and all those tools indeed useful.

Although a bit late, I’d like to suggest two other tools to your list. First, I’d recommend Typeform as a substitute for SurveyMonkey – I personally find the interface much better to work with and the resulting surveys are usualy much more engaging.

The second suggestion is a tool we’ve recently launched for UX designers, called Caravel. (Disclosure: I’m currently the Product Manager) You could say it’s part of “Other Research Related Software”, but we really like to think it’s a platform that ties every team/project member around their users. For instance, Caravel allows you to create custom persona pages or user stories and link them back to specific wireframes, UI screens, etc. That helps teams give a clear context to their deliverables, and better justify their design decisions. It’s not only suitable for UX designers, but it helps align everyone working in a product team (e.g UI, product managers, developers, etc). If you’re interested, feel free to try it out for free at


Just tried Coggle, very shiny


These lists make my head spin. So much to learn… so eager to master them all… ahhh :scream: