The tools I use for design

tools i use for design

I keep experimenting with a lot of tools and techniques which help me in my design process. Many come and go. Some stay. So I thought of sharing my workflow of design and the tools that aid me today.

Brainstorming

Nothing works like sketching on paper and discussing ideas on the whiteboard. I use a grid notebook which makes life a little easier (truth is, I still find drawing straight lines a challenge). A mind-map works best for letting everyone know about the big picture and context. For deliverables, I use MindNode Pro. It’s an easier way to share information and captures almost all the key points of the idea being developed. To capture inspirations i use Inboard. It is clean simple interface which allows me to add tags which I can search easily in the future.

Wireframing & Prototyping

So every idea starts with a sketch, be it a website or a mobile app. After the first round of brainstorming and getting a sense of the overall flow of things, I use Moqups for wireframing. They have a great collection of stencils/templates for both web and mobile. It’s a breeze to use with the type-find-drag-edit interface. I use Demonstrate for showcasing mobile workflows like a native app without writing a line of code (I have written a detailed post on this here). You can link/click hotspots and take the clients through workflows (it’s like using a real app) which helps a lot in verification of the thought process/idea itself.

Tools & Services I use

I am not going to speak about the Adobe products. I assume everybody uses it (or at least portions of it) for design. Here are some of the apps that help me.

Sketch (Mac + iOS): Vector graphics along with features that you use most while designing an interface today are neatly laid out in Sketch. The text rendering is just beautiful. The app is retina optimised and so it is perfect on the Retina MacBook Pro unlike Photoshop. Sketch also has a companion iOS app called Sketch Mirror which allows you to check out your designs on a real device as your are creating it! I think it’s a must have software for interface design today.

Mac Download | iOS Download

Skala (Mac + iOS): For real-time rendering of designs on the mobile screen if I work on photoshop/illustrator. Helps to get that pixel perfection when you see the actual design on your mobile device and tweak it quickly where necessary.

Mac Download | iOS Download

Clarify (Mac): It’s my go-to app for providing feedback on design. Love the ability to annotate and point out to things that need change. One click url generation for sharing feedback with the client and they have a clean web layout as well.

Mac Download

(Also check out redpen.io for instant feedback)

CloudApp (Mac): Though dropbox is still the default ‘sync all my work’ service that I use. I still don’t like the fact that dropbox pushes me to go to the website to get a shareable link of my work. So for quick sharing (and not clogging emails with huge attachments), I use CloudApp. ⌘+c to copy the design to clipboard and then ⌘+option+c to upload the file and get a link on the clipboard. All I have to do next is paste the link either on chat or email! Saves a lot of time.

Mac Download

Trello (Web + iOS): All the todos are managed here. For both, the products and the services side of business. Trust me, the drag-drop interface becomes an addiction. All is good as long as majority of the action items are in the ‘doing’ or ‘done’ section. They have a great mobile app as well.

Website | iOS Download

Tumblr (Web + iOS): This is a collection of all things I find interesting especially from a art, design and technology perspective. The tags help me quickly find or recollect something I would have seen earlier.

Website | iOS Download

Text Expander (Mac + iOS): I don’t know how I lived before this app. So bacially, add shortcuts to text snippets and icons and save time from copy-pasting. For instance, I just type ‘;lorem’ on my keyboard and it generates paragraphs of dummy text to be used during the wireframing stages to fill up content. Also frequently used icons like ⌘, →, ©, ™ are just a few keystrokes away. This is just from the design perspective, the application by itself can be used for much wider purposes like email templates and quick responses and much more.

Mac Download | iOS Download

InstaShare (Mac + iOS): Great mac + iOS app combo. I think it’s the quickest way of transferring photos/screenshots between your mac and phone.

Mac Download | iOS Download

For inspiration I generally browse through sites like pttrns (iOS elements), capptive.co (to check out great interaction designs), androidniceties (android, no points for guessing) and onepagelove (web)

Apart from these I use the super awesome tools/services like Dropbox, NetNewsWire (for all the design and tech news from people I follow), Alfred (for accessing almost everything by a few keystrokes and minimising the usage of the trackpad),VSCO for all the food photography, which I gained a recent interest in (I somehow like their filters better than Instagram), music from grooveshark or spotify.

So what are your favorite tools?

About Sonaal

Maker, Designer - NFN Labs & Kabadiwalla Connect.

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