ABSTRACT: In this world nothing can be certain, except death, taxes, and that every week will bring with it a brand new design tool. From InVision to Sketch to Zeplin to Framer, each of these tools focuses on enabling designers to work smarter but they all seem to fall just short of addressing the real needs of modern design. In this talk, Brian will draw from real experience leading a design team to answer the question, “What’s missing?” He will also give advice for assembling a workable toolkit based on the disparate design tools on the market today.
Link to Design Tools Survey: http://tools.subtraction.com/
We as UX designers use so many tools nowadays - there really is no standardization.
Full results at http://tools.subtraction.com/
Our MO as designers right now should not be to find The Holy Grail, but to assemble a workable toolset where the best tool is selected for each specific function within our design processes.
Here’s one example of a toolset you could use for a given design process.
At BMC, we focus our design process around three phases:
* Discovery: Generative research, user learning, story and activity mapping
* Innovation: Concept development, user learning based on concepts, iterative design
* Implementation: Build of the product based on detailed specifications
* Collaboration between designers: Dropbox + Sketch is problematic right now because they aren’t truly aware of each other. Pattern evolution and drift across products (right now, we all need to develop our own product-specific stencils but we also need to share).
* Collaboration between Designers and R&D: Source of truth, constant fit and finish issues because our prototypes don’t fully explain the intended behavior
InVision still suffers from not giving a clear path through designs - we have to hack InVision through spec documents to do this.
My latest experiment is using the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil to replace my early pen and paper sketches and other tools like Balsamiq.
Using the iPad Pro as a digital notebook allows me to be inside design meetings and quickly sketch out and copy elements, as well as fix my crooked lines…
I use 53 Paper (https://www.fiftythree.com/) as my app of choice for these types of sketches.
I can also use it to quickly spec out prospective designs. It’s essentially like a full backpack full of art supplies in a light tablet.
It’s also great for practicing Chinese!
This is my current toolset, battle-hewn based on my recent experiences:
* Discovery: I use Slack to communicate with my team and assign new user stories. We work extensively with Product Management to establish the product backlog for a new release and track it in JIRA. I have begun to use the iPad Pro for sketching early designs and help R&D to provide early estimates of effort.
* Innovation: Where I used to use Adobe Illustrator, I now use Sketch. These are used with shared symbol libraries to take designs to their next levels of detail. Designs are shared on InVision, with zeplin.io being used for providing pixel-perfect dimensions and measurements for fit and finish. Keynote and Framer Studio help to illustrate specific animations that are difficult to illustrate with InVision.
* Implementation: We iterate on Sketch mockups, collaborate with the team on InVision, and also sometimes use tools such as Xcode to illustrate specific design details for certain platforms, like iOS.
With a robust plugin system, Sketch allows tools to be built to cover new functions and extend the tool to be far more powerful. Here are some plugins to check out:
More tool creators should try to integrate their tools together.
And let’s not leave Windows users in the dust.
Inevitably, the question that comes up when considering the future is, “Should Designers Code?”
Right now, either the designers go to the developers’ house (designers using Git and JIRA) or the developers go to the designers’ house (developers using Balsamiq or InVision).
I am not of the opinion that all designers should code, but as designers of high-tech products we need to ensure we have at least a basic understanding of the nuts and bolts of the product (i.e. the code behind the scenes). But forcing all designers to code can bias designers to compromise their designs from the start based on technical feasibility, thereby reducing innovation in the design. We shouldn’t do things because they are easy, but because they are right.
So where is this going? Here’s what I think the Holy Grail could be in the distant future.
InVision is also trying to integrate a number of tools together into one UX design platform. It remains to be seen how successful they will be.
Thanks to UXPA and BMC for hosting the event! BMC is hiring great UX designers like you: www.bmc.com/careers/!