As a user-centered designer, a significant portion of your responsibility revolves around prototyping concepts to gain feedback for various designs that solve actual business problems. That means you always need to formulate or sketch ideas early and often in the design process to generate conversation, and more importantly, to gather feedback from stakeholders.

Your aim is to ultimately mesh user goals with business goals for a win-win situation that’s mutually beneficial for both sides. Therefore, you need a tool that allows you to not only be more efficient, but be more effective in that process. Once you realize how important this is, you might be interested in the following prototyping tools that can assist you in walking your stakeholders through your vision on the way to your final product.

Check out their full features and see how they can help.

POP – Prototyping on Paper [Free]

POP – Prototyping on Paper

If you want to go for the tried and tested method of sketching wireframes on actual paper or the proverbial back of a napkin, then this app is for you. With POP, you can literally sketch out your ideas, take photos of them with your phone, and then upload them into the app where you can start stitching together your sketches using hotspots.

It may be basic but that’s the beauty of it. You don’t need any complicated software, just a pencil and a piece of paper. After creating your scenario, you can share and demo your rough prototype using your iPhone, iPad, or even in your Web browser.

Briefs [$1.99 + Free Trial]

Briefs

Briefs is an app that’s built with visual thinkers in mind. It provides a way for you to describe your mobile app to others. If you have an app design in your head, Briefs is here to help you get that idea into reality, which includes more than just sharing a demo.

Briefs for Mac allows you to see your design and even test it live on actual devices while you design. It uses native animations and interactions so you can gain a strong appreciation for how it will feel. Like other services of its kind, you can apply hotspots to flat files that link between pages, but Briefs has an added functionality of giving you the flexibility to use either your own assets created outside the app or you can build pages right in the app using its rich library of interface elements.

This app stands out from the crowd when it comes to sharing your work. By using what they call ‘briefs’, you package all of your mobile design timelines into one brief that can be viewed on the free Brief iOS app by clients or teammates on their own devices. On top of that, Briefs streamlines the exporting of your assets to your developer(s) where you can provide a detailed blueprint that truly represents your app design.

iMockups for iPad [$7.00]

iMockups for iPad

Do you love working on your iPad? If that’s the case, iMockups may be worth a look. Although designed exclusively for the iPad, this app has a presentation view for sharing your vision to a larger audience by connecting your iPad to a big screen. You can place hotlinks on various elements in the wireframe for actual navigation from one wireframe to another.

If you’re using Balsamiq Mockups or you’re working with someone who uses it, it’s convenient that iMockups files can be exported to Balsamiq BMML format. However, collaboration and sharing is limited to e-mailing either editable project files or PNG files.

Marvel [Free]

Marvel

Marvel runs completely off Dropbox. With it, updating your prototype is as simple as updating your design files. The app automatically recognizes whenever you save changes to your assets and updates your prototype in the background without the nuisance of re-uploading your files. And compared to its competitors, Marvel not only supports mobile (iOS and Android), but also Web and gaming devices.

Another great feature is that, while you could convert Photoshop files to images (PNG, GIF, JPG), you can do it only when necessary, because Marvel supports PSD files and also claims to be supporting Sketch soon.

Flinto [$20.00/month + free 30-day trial]

Flinto

From PNGs to prototypes in 45 seconds – that’s Flinto’s pitch. That said, though, you still need to create those PNG files outside the app, unlike some other prototyping services. Some people may not like the idea, but you’ll definitely like having the ability to use your favorite graphic editor instead of being confined to using another built-in interface that you have to learn how to use before you can do anything.

But what really sets Flinto apart is its integrated Share & Install feature. It allows you to share your prototype link with others who can install the prototype on their homescreen (both for iOS and Android) to use like a live working app. You can make it as realistic as possible with recreated iOS and Android transitions, fixed headers and footers, and screens that scroll vertically.