Just as a farmer cannot afford to go to the farm with an unsharpened hoe, you cannot afford to set out for a design project without using the best tools that will make your work easier, faster, and more efficient. We are in the year 2020, and a lot has changed. While the tools remain fairly the same, I was surprised to have seen that a good number of designers have not ported yet; they are still using some of the archaic tools in their design work. If you are one of such designers, you need to have a rethink — this is the year 2020.
At Plant, we encourage our designers and even developers to make use of the best tools for the job. These tools should be updated and help you get your work done in the innovative face-paced design industry. As a product designer, it is expected your design toolkit contains nothing but the best set of tools. While different designers consider different tools as the best, we consider the below set of tools a must-have by designers in 2020.
It is not a mistake that I started by mentioning Sketch. I know that the niche Sketch operates in is very competitive and has some great tools competing with it as the popular Adobe XD. But make no mistake about it; Sketch is still the most preferred tool for designing beautiful interfaces. If what you are looking for is a tool for designing high fidelity interfaces, then you have to go with Sketch, especially if you are using a Mac computer. For those not using a Mac computer, they can make use of Adobe XD and even Figma. Sketch gets updated regularly and also has support for extending its functionalities using plugins.
Plant Version Control System
Another tool you should have in your product design toolbox is Plant. For those that do not know what a Version Control System (VCS) is, a VCS is a tool that helps keep versions of your work so that you can revert back changes to previous versions when the need arises. Git is the most popular VCS in the market, and it is free to use. GitHub is a web app that makes use of Git for hosting file versions. However, GitHub is a general tool and does not take into consideration the uniqueness of product design; thus, leading to the development of Plant, the version control system for product designers. It is also good as a collaboration tool. It is best used with Sketch.
Behance is not really a tool you will use in the actual design of your work — it serves as a tool for getting inspiration. In the world of product design, inspiration is key. You cannot always spin out designs that will be appealing to the eyes and provide the best user experience without getting inspiration. On Behance, you get the opportunity to check out the work of other designers. There are a good number of designers you can pick inspiration from. You can also upload your own design works to get others to review. There are a good number of product designers that get jobs from Behance — you can, too, if your designs are good enough.
InVision is another tool you should have as a product designer. For those that do not know, InVision is the tool for perfectly designing a prototype of your product. As you already know, prototyping is an important aspect of product design. This tool allows you to create beautiful and interactive mockups for your wireframes and designs. One thing I like about this tool is that it provides an opportunity for collaboration with designers. This means that a good number of designers can be working on the same prototype when using InVision.
Does your project require you to design SVG shapes? If you answer yes to this question, then here is a tool that can help you achieve that — Blobmaker. Blobmaker is a graphic design tool for quickly generating random SVG shapes. What makes this tool popular is the fact that it is completely free to use. With this tool, you can do without fussing with a Bezier curve tool — that will not save you time and energy.
The product design industry is one with a lot of people all after money or attribution. If they do not ask you for money before you can use their designs or product, you are expected to attribute them for using their work. If you are looking for where you can get attribution free illustrations, then head over to UnDraw. What makes UnDraw one of my favorite tools is that it is perfect for those that do not know how to draw. You can find illustrations for a good number of things you need illustrations for. You can also set the color you want for the illustration and also the format you want it to be downloaded.
As a product designer, it is expected that you carry out research on the problem you intend to design a solution for, and this means interviewing your intended users, having group discussions, and all of that. When you get voice data, how do you quickly get insight into it? For some, they sit and listen to the tapes for hours or get someone to help them transcribe. What if I tell you there is a tool that can help you with the transcription? The name of the tool is Otter.ai. It makes use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning to get that done, and it is pretty accurate.
From the above, you can see that unlike in the past, when you have to do somethings manually, almost all the processes in product design now has a tool. Aside from the tools discussed above, there are other tools you can use. In fact, it is important you know that the ones discussed above are just a few of the tools available to designers out there. At Plant, we use these tools and many others.