HomeNewsWhat Tools Do You Use To Design Better And Be More Productive?

What Tools Do You Use To Design Better And Be More Productive?

UX Planet — Medium | Guy Ligertwood

Question 15: Design tools to design smart

20 Designers, 20 Weeks, 1 Question Per Week

Learn from twenty experienced designers as we go deep into one question every week.

This week we look at design tools that the designers love.

Previous articles in the series (so far)

Intro Article: Get to know the designers
Question 1: How did you get into design?
Question 2: How your typical work day?
Question 3: What things you wish you knew when you started in design?
Question 4: What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?
Question 5: What do you want to see in my UX design portfolio?
Question 6: 5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview
Question 7: 5 design books every UX designer should read
Question 8: Imposter syndrome: Your experience with it as a designer and tips to manage it
Question 9: 5 non designer books every UX designer should read
Question 10: What’s the best design advice you’ve ever received?
Question 11: 5 things that make a great UX designer
Question 12: What have you struggled with in your your career and how did you overcome it?
Question 13: How do you juggle your life, work and keeping up with the design industry?
Question 14: What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design and why?
Questions 15: (you’re here) What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

“I truly believe that if you get better at writing, you get better at explaining, structuring, organising and narrating — key skills for designers. “(Simon)

Simon Pan — Senior Interaction Designer at Google, San Francisco, USA

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

I’ve been a long-time iA Writer fan and still think it’s the only tool that helps me design better and be more productive. Why? Because it’s a distraction-free writing tool, that forces me to focus on the harder questions about a design, without wasting time and procrastinating on pushing pixels (before it’s time).

I truly believe that if you get better at writing, you get better at explaining, structuring, organising and narrating — key skills for designers.

Where can people follow you?

simonpan.com or on twitter

Stephanie Engle — Product Designer at Cruise Automation, Menlo Park, USA

Nationality:

American 🇺🇸

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

When I’m at earlier stages of projects, I spend a lot of time writing quick thoughts and principles in Apple’s Notes and listening to Spotify.

Normally I use Sketch and some combo of Principle/Framer/After Effects for prototyping. My recent work on self-driving cars has been fairly spatial, so I’ve been using Cinema 4D more to hack together spatial designs. I’m still looking for a really great 3D interaction design tool; this need is only becoming more important and is still pretty underserved.

Where can people follow you?

On Twitter

Andrew Doherty — CEO, Another.ai, Berlin, Germany

Formerly Product Design Manager at Google, Mountain View

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

Long walks. Music. Water. Nutrient rich food. A photo of a frustrated and upset grandma trying to use technology.

Where can people follow you?

My website or on Medium

Nirissa Govender — Product Designer at Majid Al Futtaim in Dubai

Nationality:

South African 🇿🇦

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

  • Sketch. This is my most used tool.
  • Invision or Axure for prototyping. Depending on the complexity.
  • Slack and Skype. To manage internal communication within my team. I also use Slack to be participate in design communities.
  • Abstract. My new team seems to favor this tool, I am beginning to understand why.
  • Zeplin. Helpful when communicating with developers.
  • Frontify. Keep track of our style guide
  • Look back. For user experience testing.
  • Usability Hub
  • Jira
  • Basecamp

Where can people follow you?

My Linkedin

Adham Dannaway — Senior UI/UX designer, Contract/Freelance, Sydney, Australia

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

I’m pretty old-school when it comes to design, my tools of the trade basically include; a B5 sketchbook (just the right size between A4 and A5) and black pen to sketch concepts and wireframes, post it notes to document ideas and to-do lists, Macbook Pro (it’s a rip off but I still love it), Thunderbolt display (as I struggle to design on a small laptop screen), the internet (what would we do without it?), Invision to present my designs to developers/stakeholders and Sketch App to design concepts, wireframes and visual designs. I like to use some Sketch App plugins to make life a bit easier, I manage them using the Sketch toolbox app. Some of my favourite plugins include; “Symbol Organiser” to automatically organise symbols into neat columns based on their names, “Craft Sync” to save my designs into Invision, “Rename it” to rename symbols and layers efficiently, “Nudge, push, shove” to set the default nudge value to 8px instead of 10px and “Find and replace” to manage text changes. I also love Twitter and Panda App as they help me stay inspired and up to date with the latest design news, tips and tricks.

Where can people follow you?

adhamdannaway.com

Ben Huggins — Sr Interaction Designer, YouTube, San Francisco, USA

Nationality:

American 🇺🇸

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

  • Keynote — An underrated tool for communicating product ideas FAST. I used to use this for all of my early screen design (as did the whole UX team at Nest) because it forced me to avoid the pixels (no 3200% zoom in Keynote) and focus on the concept. Plus, you’re always ready to present/share. These days, I use it more for quick prototyping or animation, but have carried a lot of the rapid iteration techniques into other tools. Thanks to my buds Ted and Joel for helping me discover it.
  • Paper and pencil — All of my work starts here. Period. Sometimes I dress up my sketches with Illustrator and a Wacom tablet, but it’s a super cheap way to crash through a bunch of ideas and get quick feedback.
  • Panoramic photos — Taking a photo of a big whiteboard sketch with a bunch of detail? Use pano mode on your phone camera. You’re welcome.
  • Quadro— Think of the MacBook Pro touch bar, but if it were as big as an iPad and fully customizable. This app is killer for simple actions (firing a Sketch plugin) or programming more complex sequences (organize and label all my artboards then export .pngs to a folder).
  • Cloned workspace — Recently I built out my home workspace to the same spec as my office: standing desk, Thunderbolt Display, same mouse/keyboard, etc. I try not to work a ton at home, but when I do there’s something great about having it be a seamless transition.

Other tools I use a lot: Gif Brewery, BeardedSpice, Hemingway App

Where can people follow you?

hugg.in or I’m @bhuggins on Twitter and Instagram

Chirryl-Lee Ryan (aka Cheech) — Transdisciplinary Designer

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

HOT

  • Linkedin
    My social medium of choice. I barely use anything else! LinkedIn used to be the creepy uncle of social media — but apparently he’s had a makeover. And LinkedIn Premium/Sales Navigator are design weapons if you know how to use them!
  • GetPocket
    For storing all my links in one handy cloud-based location.
  • Google
    Obviously! Drive is great for housing all my stuff where it’s accessible on the go. Keep is a great for cloud — based note keeping. I’m even liking Calendar more and more. I guess Eric Schmidt was right about Google’s vision for ‘augmented humanity’.
  • Kindle Reader
    Although I love a physical book, Kindle Reader makes it much easier to carry an entire library onto a long haul flight with you in your hand luggage.
  • Podcasts
    Mugatu would say podcasts are so hot right now. Having a great podcast app is super handy for accessing the amazing array of content that’s being created. I’m using Podcast App right now (free), but I got a hot tip from Disney Designer and Podcast junkie Jeremy O’Meara that Downcast (paid) is the business.
  • Facebook Messanger
    I find I use Facebook Messenger quite a lot — it’s quite stable for voice calls and you dont have to be connected to wifi to use it like some other message platforms.
  • Art Diaries and Artliners
    I’ve kept art diaries for years (since I was a graffiti grommet with my blackbook), and they keep me sane. I highly recommend getting yourself a good diary and pen set to use for writing, doodle and drawing. They are also incredibly fun to look back on years later.

NOT

  • Skype
    Urgh. Like a tiny hole in a big ballon, Skype has been a long, slow let down. Been around for years and it had so much potential, but they’ve let themselves go. Constant struggles with log in and connection have made me turn to almost any other messaging platform — including iMessage, Facebook Messanger, WhatsApp or Google Hangouts.
  • Slack
    Did you know Slack is based on an idea for a never-ending game? Complete drainer! Totally inefficient time waster. I would highly recommend you remove Slack from all your devices if you want to save yourself from a slot machine addiction.
  • Facebook
    Facebook pretty much sucks. I hardly use it for anything that keeping up with my friends from around the world and the automated birthday notifications.
  • Audible by Amazon
    Absolutely appalling experience. I used to have a subscription, but quickly cancelled when I realised Australia and the rest of the world work independently, and I couldn’t transfer my audiobooks to the Australian version. I had to download them all, convert them to MP4 from Audible’s own format and store them on my damn hard drive — lame!
  • DSLRs
    Highend cameras are totally overrated. With phone camera quality going up and up, my Nikon DSLRs became really expensive paper weights. I recently traded one for a much smaller Panasonic with sick-as-hell video quality. That and my GoPro5 with Karma Grip make for a mighty imaging suite.

Where can people follow you?

My Linkedin

Audrey Liu — Director of Product Design at Lyft, San Francisco, USA

(*Audrey has recently moved from Director Of Product Design at Thumbtack to Director of Products Design at Lyft 🙌)

Nationality:

American 🇺🇸

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

There are the usual suspects like Sketch and InVision. I also really enjoy Abstract, which makes file versioning across multiple team members so much easier, and Todoist for keeping my life organized.

Where can people follow you?

My Twitter

Nick Babich — Development Team Manager, Ring Central, Russia

Nationality:

Russian 🇷🇺

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

  • Writing:
    Google Doc (Love the idea that you can share your work in one click)
  • Design tools:
    Pen and paper (sketching on a paper is still the favorite prototyping technique for me), Adobe CC products (Photoshop, XD);
  • Productivity tools:
    Apple Notes (Each time when I have an idea I create a new note — just in case to not forget about it)
  • Presentation tools:
    Apple Keynote (sometimes I use it to do quick prototyping)

Where can people follow you?

UX Planet, Twitter Facebook

Paola Mariselli — Product Designer, Facebook, Menlo Park, California, USA

Nationality: Peruvian 🇵🇪

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

One of the most important — and challenging — aspects of designing at a big company is making the mind-space to focus on design. To do so, one has to be intentional in making the time to focus and be “productively creative”. Thus, my most used tools to design better are actually focused on organization and time management. I use my email inbox as a to-do list and have a series of rules to keep it from becoming bloated. I also use a simple document tool for roadmapping and prioritization. Other than that, paper and pen help keep my mind clear during the day from outstanding items or new ideas that need later exploration.

Where can people follow you?

Twitter or Medium

Alessandro Floridi — UX Manager at Deloitte, Sydney, Australia

(*Alex has recently moved from UX Manager at Deloittte to UX Design Lead at Macquarie Group 🙌)

Nationality:

Italian 🇮🇹

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

It’s amazing how many tools you can find now on the market, and also how easy to use these tools are. I was thinking a few days ago how hard was to render something in 3D few years back or how difficult it was to print. I love all the software out there and now we even invest time talking about which one fits our needs better.

I try to stay loyal to the purpose of prototyping by keep it lean and not overcomplicate it. Sketch is one of my favourite tools even though I still like Axure. Index is a new app almost better than Evernote keep all the inspirational articles and screenshot in one place.

There is always a Kanban involved these days and I prefer to have physical one supporting the digital version, again pick up the one that works for you.

Where can people follow you?

My Linkedin

Leslie Chicoine — Experience Design and Product Management Consultant, Denver, USA

Nationality:

American 🇺🇸

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

Sketch App with InVision & Craft is my jam for design work. But everything I do starts with paper & pencil. I like loose leaf 8 x 11 printer paper because it feels completely free form. I also use the Notes app on the Mac and iPhone to keep daily notes on requirements, tasks, conversations, and writing out stories for new features and product ideas.

For staying organized and on task I layout my coming week every Sunday on Goggle Calendar (after I’ve listed out all the scheduled things and tasks I want to accomplish in Notes). Slack and Messenger are my preferred modes of communication. I’m slow to reply via email and I’m more than OK with the drop in emails that has created.

Where can people follow you?

My Instagram and Twitter

Buzz Usborne — Product Designer at Help Scout, Sydney, Australia

Nationality:

British 🇬🇧 and recently Australian 🇦🇺

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

I use Loom pretty much every day to communicate work in progress with my remote team. I honestly don’t think I’d be as productive as I am without it!

Where can people follow you?

My work at buzzusborne.com, my Twitter, my writing on Medium and my resume on Linkedin

Kylie Timpani — Senior Designer at Humaan, Perth, Australia

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

So many. Haha.

For worky things:

  • Photoshop (Design work)
  • Illustrator (Design work)
  • Sketch (Design work)
  • Asana (Project management)
  • Harvest (Time-tracking and invoicing)
  • Google Sheets (Budgets and the like)
  • Google Docs (Document creation)
  • Gmail (Email)
  • Chrome (Browser)
  • Slack (Communications)
  • iA Writer (Writing)
  • Hemingway (Writing)
  • Google Drive (Collaboration)
  • Dropbox (All my things)
  • 1Password (Passwords, shh!)
  • Evernote (Ideas, lists, plans)

For life:

  • Fantastical (Calendar and scheduling)
  • iOS Reminders (To-do’s — after trying every to-do app out there!)
  • Pocket (Saving articles)
  • Casts (Podcasts)
  • Way of Life (Habit tracking)
  • Life Cycle (Life balance)
  • Elevate (Daily brain training)
  • MyFitnessPal (Tracking nutrition)
  • My Water (Water reminders because I’m the worst)
  • Headspace (Daily meditation)
  • Bills Monitor (Tracking bills)
  • FB Messenger (For most of my personal communication)

Let’s not talk about all that time I spend on the Twitter app too…

Where can people follow you?

My Twitter and also on my Dribbble for haphazardly timed insights into my work.

Graeme Fulton — Writer, coder, designer at Marvel Gibraltar, UK

Nationality:

British 🇬🇧

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

I write things
My friend gave me one of these books from Moo.com which I use everyday. I find myself doing so much more in it because I like the feel:

These papermate pens are really nice to scribble with too. They’re not the most expensive, so it doesn’t hurt when I inevitably lose them within a few weeks.

Planning
A tool I’ve recently adopted for planning is Airtable — the kanban view is excellent. It’s a bit like trello, but everything is linked to a spreadsheet record making it flexible and useful:

Check out the templates

Design
I use Marvel for prototyping, it’s fun and fast — especially the android appwhich is usually the next step I take after sketching.

Where can people follow you?

My Twitter

Kaiting Huang — Interaction Designer at Google, in Seattle, USA

Nationality:

Taiwanese 🇹🇼

What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

The following are design tools I use on a regular basis:

It’s worth pointing out that in most case, tools don’t really matter as long as a designer can communicate the idea. They matter more when it comes to integrating design in the team’s production flow. Sometimes, I’ll have to opt in certain tools due to historical set-ups and company policies. Being open to try and able to learn new tools quickly are an essential skills for designers.

Where can people follow you?

My Medium

If you enjoyed this…

Read the other articles in this series

Intro Article: Get to know the designers
Question 1: How did you get into design?
Question 2: How your typical work day?
Question 3:What things you wish you knew when you started in design?
Question 4: What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?
Question 5: What do you want to see in my UX design portfolio?
Question 6: 5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview?
Question 7: 5 design books every UX designer should read
Question 8: Imposter syndrome: Your experience with it as a designer and tips to manage it
Question 9: 5 non designer books every UX designer should read
Question 10: What’s the best design advice you’ve ever received?
Question 11: 5 things that make a great UX designer
Question 12: What have you struggled with in your your career and how did you overcome it?
Question 13: How do you juggle your life, work and keeping up with the design industry?
Question 14: What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design and why?
Questions 15: (you’re here) What tools do you use to design better and be more productive?

Thanks for the read, before you go

Clap 👏 👏 👏 if you enjoyed this article, so others can find it
Comment 💬 if you have a question you’d like to ask the designers
Follow me Guy Ligertwood to read all the articles in the series

stat?event=post.clientViewed&referrerSou


What Tools Do You Use To Design Better And Be More Productive? was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Featured articles on Prototypr: