- Every designer has a set of tools that help them accomplish their day to day tasks. These tools help us design, tell stories, capture problems, and even report issues. When it comes down to it, UX professionals are constantly trying new tools. The key is to find the ones that work with your workflow and help empower you to be a better contributor. It's also important to find tools that keep you productive. Today, I'm going to share some of my everyday tools that I use as a user experience designer and how I use each one of them to get work done.
When it comes to design tools, over the years many programs have come up. I've tried many of them, but when it comes to consistency over time, Sketch and Adobe Creative Cloud have really hit the mark. I tend to use Sketch most of the time in my day to day design exercises, mainly because of the following things. There's a seamless integration with InVision, a developer community that produces free plugins, a minimalistic user experience to get the job done, and LinkedIn design team uses it so we can share files via one platform, and, finally, it integrates with artboards, pages, and symbols into a single tool.
I still love to use Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, however, I only use them for specific tasks. I use Illustrator when I'm creating illustrations in large posters. I'll use Photoshop when I'm strictly working with photos and need to manipulate them. And I'll use InDesign when doing more print design projects. Then you often find me using a quick key to launch Snagit. It's a quick video and screen capture tool created by TechSmith that is supported on a Mac and Windows.
I use the tool daily when attending bug bashes, or when I find something specific I want to share with an engineer or a product manager. It enables me to document issues fast. Then I'll mark them up with their provided toolbox. It's a lifesaver. It also saves links locally, so you don't have to worry about taking a bunch of screenshots and then them disappearing on your computer. Another tool that I use weekly is Keynote. I use it to document projects, tell stories, and save my design process.
For each project, I'll typically start a new Keynote and throw all my research, notes, and wireframes and design comps into this file so I don't lose it. It also comes handy when you're trying to pull together a story for your presentation and you have all your process already there. I'll also use Keynote to document all the projects I've shipped in the year. This makes the yearly review a cakewalk because you have all your accomplishments and efforts displayed in a single document that you can arrow right through to see.
Then, when you sit back to look at your year in review, you might discover that you did way more than what you could remember. Then, there was the iPhone. I've always been a huge fan of Apple products, and the iPhone has continually impressed me and assisted me in being more productive as a user experience designer. From having constant access to test mobile web, then shifting to take in a quick photo of the whiteboard, the iPhone has been a great companion, and I couldn't imagine not having it around. This has become a basic expectation for user experience designers.
Even if it's not an iPhone, we still need a smartphone to support us in our role. One of the worst experiences being a user experience designer is losing your work. That's why having an external hard drive is an incredibly crucial tool to have. It happens to all of us. We work on a design for hours or days, and then all of a sudden something happens, and we lose our work. I'm going to call out that my external hard drive has saved me numerous times, and has become a staple, if you're constantly pushing your computer to the max, and I totally do.
You also might need space to save and archive your work for the long haul, so this is essential. When it comes to practical UX tools, I'll end by saying a good-quality felt-tip marker and sketchbook can take you a long way. Uistencils.com has a super fun collection of tools that might get you inspired to do more pencil and paper type of work. I take my favorite pen and sketchbook everywhere. I'll use it to take meeting notes, sketch out workflows, wireframes, or even illustrate what's going on in a presentation.
It's important to know that every designer has a set of tools that work best for them. The list I shared above were just my top tools that I use day-in and day-out, to help me accomplish my daily tasks and responsibilities. The cool thing is, the world is continually evolving our tools, so we will have new ones to learn, and retire the ones that couldn't evolve with us. Just like how you love to get feedback on how to make your products better, remember that the teams that make the tools I discuss are working hard, so be constructive with the feedback.
And do share your feedback, so the world can have a better toolbox for the next generation of designers. If you'd like to continue the conversation, or have more questions about any of the tools I mentioned, and how I use that, then I'd love to discuss them with you. Find me on Instagram @abridewell, tweet at me @abridewell, or you can post a question on our Practical UX Weekly LinkedIn group. Thanks for watching, and I look forward to seeing you next time.
To continue the conversation with Drew and other user experience professionals, join Drew's Practical UX: Lessons from the Trenches LinkedIn group.
Make sure to check out the 2019 version of Practical UX Weekly for more tips and tricks.
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