Product designers and their teams are responsible for everything from prototyping to design, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As a product lead, you also need to manage team collaboration and check user behavior analytics to see what is (and isn’t) working throughout the product lifecycle.
It’s a lot to manage at once, isn’t it?
The good news is that you don’t need to lead this circus solo. Product design software gives your team a digital workspace for managing everything from UI design to project management to journey mapping.
In this guide, we’ll explain how product design software works and which features you should be on the lookout for. We’ll even throw in reviews of the best product design tools to jumpstart your search for the perfect product development process platform. 🤩
What Is a Product Design Tool?
Product design software helps product teams visualize, mock-up, and iterate products in the design process. Developers and professional web designers use these tools at various stages in their processes—whether they’re collecting user research, building customer journey maps, or creating prototypes.
Instead of trying to manage your budget, tasks, team communications, and documents separately, solid product design software brings everything into one platform to help your team do better work, faster.
Not only does this design software make it possible to refine your ideas before development, but it also makes your job a lot easier. With the right tool, you’ll never need to dig for mockups, design briefs, or spec sheets ever again.
What features to look for in a product design tool
There are plenty of product design software options on the market, but these solutions don’t always tick the right boxes. Look for product design tools with functionalities like:
- Process and workflow management: Sure, a solid 3D modeling software is cool and all, but wouldn’t it be better if it also managed the design process, too? High-quality product design tools offer a cloud-based framework to keep all stakeholders, projects, and tasks on the same page
- Simple interface design: Who has the time or mental bandwidth for a steep learning curve? Save more time by opting for product design software with a simple user interface. Go with drag-and-drop tools wherever possible. Choosing a tool that’s compatible with iOS, Mac, and Android devices also helps with team-wide adoption
- Templates: Product design software should save you time. Look for a tool that includes wireframe templates, product launch templates, and more. To save more time, look for solutions that offer templates for the documents you spend the most time creating
- AI and automation: Automated task handoffs and AI writing tools are serious time-savers for product teams. Whether it’s trigger-based automations or product description generators, go for product design software that handles finicky tasks for you
10 Best Product Design Tools in 2023
Product design tools give design teams a serious assist in the development process. Get a tool that celebrates big, crazy design thinking with features that support your team’s ambitions. Check out these top 10 product design tools to give your team a leg up.
That’s right: ClickUp is equal parts project management tool and product design tool—but there’s a lot more where that came from. 🛠️
Product teams use ClickUp to manage all Docs, Roadmaps, and Goals in one user-friendly dashboard. Track issues, manage sprints, and automatically generate project reports in no time at all.
If you spend a lot of time sifting through emails and Slack messaging, move everything to ClickUp. ClickUp saves comments on all tasks and projects so your communications display right next to your work. ClickUp Chat view is also a helpful real-time tool for sharing updates, links, and more for all of your projects.
If you’re focused less on the product side and work mostly on design, there’s a ClickUp Workspace for that, too. Design teams use ClickUp to organize their big ideas in one digital space—even if you’re miles apart. It even helps you plan team capacity, manage design projects, and track feedback and approvals in one place.
ClickUp best features
- Access hundreds of templates, like the ClickUp Product Design SOP Template, to spend less time writing and more time designing
- ClickUp Whiteboards make real-time creative collaboration a cinch
- Rely on ClickUp AI to generate report copy, email updates, product descriptions, and much more
- Create ClickUp Docs and connect them to your product design workflows in just a click
- New users sometimes find ClickUp’s features overwhelming at first
- ClickUp AI is only available on paid plans
- Free Forever
- Unlimited: $7/month per user
- Business: $12/month per user
- Business Plus: $19/month per user
- Enterprise: Contact for pricing
- ClickUp AI is available on all paid plans for $5 per Workspace member per month
ClickUp ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.7/5 (8,300+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (3,700+ reviews)
Are you leading a development team? Figma was made for digital ideation, so it’s perfect for mocking up websites, apps, and pretty much any digital user experience in the design process.
Since all collaboration happens synchronously online, Figma is ideal for remote product design teams. Use this product design software to tinker with design options, build and test prototypes, and generate code.
Figma best features
- Co-create in real-time with your team to design world-class experiences
- Create realistic prototypes and get feedback on the experience to build a better product, faster
- Build a repository of reusable assets with Figma’s shared libraries
- FigJam is an online whiteboard for product collaboration and brainstorming
- Figma claims you can export its code to build actual projects, but this code is bulky and prone to breaking
- Permissions and version control need some work
- Starter: Free
- Figma Professional: $12/month per user, billed annually
- Figma Organization: $45/month per user, billed annually
- Enterprise: $75/month per user, billed annually
Figma ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.7/5 (960+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (660+ reviews)
InkyBay is a very special type of product design tool. It allows your customers to personalize their own configurable products, so if you sell T-shirts, promotional products, or other personalized tchotchkes, this is a great tool for you.
Just install InkyBay and let your customers pick a product, text, and graphics (or a custom logo) with the drag-and-drop InkyBay design tool. InkyBay sends you the print file and your design team gets to work.
InkyBay best features
- InkyBay is compatible with Shopify and BigCommerce
- The Visual Product Designer previews products before customers place their order
- Add configurable parts, like color options or styles, with the Product Configurator
- Tell InkyBay which products or customizations come with an upcharge
- InkyBay doesn’t come with a project management toolset
- Some users say the InkyBay app freezes frequently
- Starter: $19.99/month
- Advance: $49.99/month
- Professional: $99.99/month
- Unlimited: $249.99/month
InkyBay ratings and reviews
- G2: 5/5 (1 review)
- Capterra: N/A
Are you an Apple-exclusive company? Sketch is a Mac app product designers use for collaboration, prototyping, and more. 💻
Tag other users to share feedback directly on your Sketch designs. The platform even organizes your designs, allows for multiple design layers, and includes customizable shortcuts for faster work.
Sketch best features
- Design and manage your own vector icons in Sketch
- Create a design template in Sketch to save time on future projects
- Sketch works offline if you don’t have internet access
- Use Sketch’s browser-based tools for prototyping and handing designs off to development
- Sketch is only available for Mac devices, so Windows diehards are out of luck
- Some users wish the platform came with more templates
- Standard: $10/month per user, billed annually
- Business: $20/month per user, billed annually
- Mac-only License: $120 per license
Sketch ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.5/5 (1,100+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.6/5 (770+ reviews)
Need something a bit more technical? Onshape is a computer-aided design (CAD) product design software designed specifically for agile teams. It’s a cloud-native development platform, which makes it perfect for software development teams.
But it’s much more than a powerful product design software tool. Onshape combines collaboration tools, integrations, and multi-device support into one slick platform.
Onshape best features
- Simulate, render, and automate designs in Onshape
- Control version and release management
- Check your project analytics by employee, supplier, or release
- Organize and share documents with multiple projects and users
- Some users wish Onshape linked to more apps for design and engineering
- Other users say certain features, like admin and failed feature alerts, are hard to find
- Standard: $1,500 per user, billed annually
- Professional: $2,500 per user, billed annually
- Enterprise: Contact for pricing
Onshape ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.7/5 (570+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.5/5 (300+ reviews)
SolidWorks is one of the most popular product design tools in the world. It’s not a single product, but a gigantic suite of products you combine to manage design, data management, manufacturing, marketing, and simulations in one platform. 📚
SolidWorks is popular for engineering applications, so if you need help modeling electrical systems or 3D structures, this is the tool for you. Mockup designs with your team to reduce back-and-forth emails and iterate more quickly.
SolidWorks best features
- Share 3D designs with your team via the cloud
- Track all feedback and design approvals
- Store all versions and product data in the cloud
- Manage data, approvals, and project tasks in one place
- SolidWorks has so many plans and products that it’s hard to pick the right option for your needs
- SolidWorks is a high-performance tool, so you need a pretty fast machine to use it
- Contact for pricing
SolidWorks ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.4/5 (530+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.6/5 (700+ reviews)
Do you work with a team of engineers? If so, LabVIEW is a must-have. This is a graphical programming tool that does research, validation, and testing for you.
This is a no-nonsense platform designed for the big leagues, so it might have too much firepower if you just want a mockup software. But if you work with electrical systems or even something as big as space missions, LabVIEW’s features are a must. 🚀
LabVIEW best features
- Automate testing sequences and access them remotely
- Learn the basics of application development with free LabVIEW training
- Configure interactive display elements in your designs
- Install LabVIEW’s drivers to automatically integrate hardware and instrument data into your test system
- LabVIEW is primarily a graphical programming and testing tool, so it doesn’t include features for product project management
- Some users say the software can be bulky and time-consuming
- LabVIEW Base: $528/year
- Test Workflow Standard: $1,995
- Test Workflow Pro: $3,995/year
LabVIEW ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.3/5 (180+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.5/5 (15+ reviews)
8. Fusion 360
Autodesk’s Fusion 360 is a 3D CAD software tool for designing and manufacturing products. This is a serious 3D modeling tool, so it’s best for industrial design and manufacturing teams.
Fusion 360 makes it possible to streamline product development by combining collaboration and the product design process into a single cloud-based platform. Use this software to test your designs in a digital environment and make tweaks before moving on to expensive physical prototypes.
Fusion 360 best features
- Save time and resources with Fusion 360’s automated workflows
- Collaborate on CAD designs in real-time
- Use generative design to create factory-ready designs
- Simulate 3D designs in a digital test environment
Fusion 360 limitations
- Some users say Fusion 360 lacks customer service and technical support
- Other users say this CAD software is highly technical and confusing for beginners
Fusion 360 pricing
- $545 per user, billed annually
Fusion 360 ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.5/5 (420+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.5/5 (220+ reviews)
9. Adobe Creative Cloud
Whether it’s Photoshop, Acrobat Pro, or Lightroom, you’ve probably used an Adobe product before. The Adobe Creative Cloud is a suite of over 20 creative apps that product teams use to create graphics, AI-generated visuals, and eye-catching videos.
Adobe’s suite isn’t nearly as technical as the other product design tools on our top 10 list, but its ease of use makes it a fit for teams in nearly any type of business, including startups. Not only does it include design tools, but it also gives you access to real-time collaboration tools, branding element libraries, and helpful tutorials.
Adobe Creative Cloud best features
- Mockup UX designs in real-time with your team
- Create your own images, fonts, graphics, and icons
- Adobe Dimension builds interactive 3D models for product iteration
- Use Adobe Capture to convert your smartphone into a product design software on the go
Adobe Creative Cloud limitations
- Some users report issues with licensing and customer service
- These are hefty programs working in the cloud, so crashes aren’t uncommon
Adobe Creative Cloud pricing
- Contact for pricing
Adobe Creative Cloud ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.6/5 (35,700+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (7,160+ reviews)
InVision Prototype is a code-free product design software that’s perfect for building engaging online experiences. Your design team can comment and tag each other from within a prototype for easy collaboration, which makes this the perfect solution for non-technical teams. ✨
If you’re already using Sketch, InVision integrates seamlessly with this design tool. This makes it possible to build your own designs in Sketch and convert everything into a viable prototype with InVision.
InVision best features
- Use InVision’s heatmaps to identify hotspots in your designs
- Build for any device thanks to InVision’s responsive design
- Easily share assets among team members in real-time
- Iterate on wireframes or switch color variations in just a few clicks
- While the Sketch integration is cool, some users wish InVision had more plugins
- Other users say they have issues embedding InVision assets into other software
- Pro: $7.95/month per user, billed annually
- Enterprise: Contact for pricing
InVision ratings and reviews
- G2: 4.4/5 (670+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.6/5 (730+ reviews)
Combine Product Management With Your Design Tool
Your customers (and your boss) expect more from product designers now than ever before. You need every advantage you can get to create quality work on shrinking timelines. If you don’t have one already, get product design software to manage your team’s big ideas, communications, designs, and more. 🙌
While product modeling tools will get you far, go with an integrated tool like ClickUp to bring all the tools and work you need into the same platform. Leverage AI and automation to save time with this intuitive, feature-rich tool that makes product design—dare we say—fun!
Create your first ClickUp Workspace to see the difference. Sign up for ClickUp now: It’s Free Forever.