Rapid Prototyping

I can’t code. I don’t know how to use that. I am not very good at that. I have heard every excuse to not build it yourself.  How are you going to build your amazing idea if you count yourself out? I’ve got some good news, and great news!  The good news is we live in a time where it’s easy to make software and physical devices. Below is my recommended list of tools to make websites, apps, code, 3D printed items and much much more. The great news? You might not be able to do it today, but your future self will!.  You can do it- just dive in and get started!

updated: 11/05/2022

Web / Social

Squarespace, Wix, Weebly – Stand up a presentable website for your concept in less than a day!

NameChk – Have a solid company name? Check if it’s available on EVERY social platform all at once!

Notion – Amazingly solid no-code collaboration tool that you can use to deliver quick, functional websites.

No-Code Platforms

Glide – Got an idea and a template? Turn it into an app with Glide.

Notion – Build solid templates anyone can use in a few minutes.

Coda – Like Notion, but has more powerful integrations and ability to add code, if you want.

Apps / Mobile

Marvel, App Inventor, Flinto – Want to build an app, but not satisfied with just screens? Use one of these services to build interactions! No coding required!

Still not convinced? You really can build an app by uploading artwork for each screen. My interns made the artwork in PowerPoint and imported that into Flinto. Here’s the Presentation.

Sheety – Want to add real data to your app or web mockup? Sheety will turn your Google sheet into an restful API!

Design/UI Mockups

Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, Google Slides – You don’t need to code or know how to draw to make a simple app/website mockup. Just use presentation software! You can make sophisticated animations, buttons, and even embed media.

Proto.io, Invision – Need to mock up or design an app? These tools are the best!

SneakPeak – Are you so old school that you want to draw an app, with pen and paper? We got you covered- download a bunch here!

Free Drawing/Design Tools

If you need Photoshop, try GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) or Kleki (h/t Ceriya)

If you need Illustrator, try Inkscape.

If you need LightRoom, try Paint.net.

If you need InDesign, try Canva or Scribus.

Free Animation Tools

If you need Premier, try Davinci Resolve.

If you need Animate/Flash, try OpenToolz or Blender.

If you need AfterEffects, try Wax, Blender, or Fusion.

Free Stock Photos and Fonts

If you want Adobe Stock, try Pexels, Unsplash or Pixabay.

If you want Adobe Fonts, try Google Fonts or Dafont.

Intro to Coding

Scratch – the easiest visual programming language ever!

Free CodeCamp – Learn Javascript in a few days. Such an amazing curriculum that school districts prefer it!

TreehouseCourseraCodecademy, Udemy – Online schools for any technical topic, but specifically good for learning Python!

3D Modeling

Get started in 15 minutes: TinkerCad

Advanced: Fusion 360, Onshape, OpenScad, OpenJScad

Bonus Generative Design tools: Bots 101, Genysis

3D Printing Services

Shapeways, Sculpteo, 3D Hubs – No 3D printer? No problem. Download or make a 3D model for your project and get them printed at these services!

Getting Started with 3D Printing e-book

Internet of Things

Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Microbit – The basic devices to make electronics quickly!

Metawear, Nordic Thingy – My absolute favorite experimenting devices. Each one is chock-full of sensors, comes with a sample app that records from any of them, and has open source tools. I have one of each in my backpack at all times!

Codebender.cc, Ardublock – Develop arduino code, right in your web browser!

Hacker.io – Learn to code for devices with these amazing tutorials.

Virtual Reality

Rodin.io, AFrame.io, Primrose, React 360, Argon.js – Design VR experiences in Javascript!

NewtonVR – VR prototyping with no coding, but you definitely need to be comfortable with setting up software.

Saara’s Paper VR Prototyping – Plan out a VR scene on paper and import it into any headset!

Augmented Reality

Torch3D – Design tools for augmented reality on your phone. Super simple to drop virtual objects and interactions all around you!

Online File Converters

GreenToken, MeshConvert, Swift – Tools to convert 3D files from one format to another.

Vectary – Convert 3D files to Augmented Reality format.

Voice Assistants

Blueprints – Create an Alexa capability without code. H/T to Kha Ly for pointing this out!


Instructables, Hackster – Everyone needs to learn. Here’s some great websites for any kind of maker projects, from electronics to food to knitting and everything in between. Need inspiration? Start here!

Machine Learning

Bigjpg – Use AI Super Resolution Algorithms to increase the resolution of any picture.

Colourize – Use Deepmind AI to color any greyscale picture.

Lobe.ai – Microsoft’s low-code/no-code platform with lots of stock classifiers you can train with your own data.

DataRobot – Low-code platform to train predictive models with your own data.