ToolStack for Designers in 2020

The technology rapid wildfire updates have evolved in making a big difference in how we designers work and what tools we use. Here are some tools that are helpful during the cycle to evolve in design process.

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During the last couple of years there has been vast entry for new tools that really helps us in the design process. Especially comes handy when we are into the UX process, design thinking or any iterative process in evolving in design. In general we generally have six stages of the design process. Here we have separated out the tools in respect to the phases we have. Below we will describe and go through each and how it can be useful in flowing through your process with ease.

Something that looks great but is difficult to use is exemplary of great UI and poor UX. While Something very usable that looks terrible is exemplary of great UX and poor UI.

While undergoing into each phase we designers need to switch back and forth to the tools and methods to gain insights. Here we have clearly defined the tools which come really handy when we are into the design process so that we become better designers and deliver better and well-designed experience and services.

Design Tools

Understand

Step 1: Understand

In this process we are trying to become one of the users. To become one of them we need to understand them and to empathize. In this process we need to analyze the insight can speed up the process and let the designer focus on understanding and analyzing the need for research to a solution.

Always before we start we should invest time in understanding the need of two basic elements i.e our user and our brand. We should also address solving the problems of our users and before all of that we need to understand it. The most dangerous thing to do as a designer is to form assumptions. Good user research challenges all our assumptions. Tools which can help us in this particular phase are:

It is a user research platform which helps in understanding our target users. We can get access of five tools which helps to understand who are we making the product for. Five tools like OptimalSort, Treejack, Chalkmark, Questions, Reframer comes really helpful in this phase.

It helps us in collaborating the insights we find during the process of empathically understanding our users. It acts as a research repository for all of the team. All in the team can acess and make their collaboration during the research phase.

Trint is a A.I based speech-to-text platform where we can make any audio and video searchable and editable. It comes really handy when we are taking remote user interviews or face to face, the recorded text can be recorded and later be shared to the teams as well.

It helps us in live transcription of the audio of our video meetings. The records can be reviewed in realtime, searched, played, edited, organized and share to our team from any device.

It helps in recording our screens easily. It comes handy in browser extension as well. We can share the recordings instantly, edit it, react to it and even add controlled viewing to the videos as well. It’s available for Mac, Windows and Linux OS.

They are one of famous enterprise video communication product.Its a cloud based video and audio conferencing helping a lot of companies worldwide especially contributing great to remote cultured companies.

Temi is audio to text converter. It is well established and trusted by more than ten thousand companies worldwide. We can submit the audio from the files, edit them and download the files to Word, PDF, SRF, VTT and more formats.

They quote themselves 100% human generated transcription services. But we have to pay them before we can convert the files. The order is generated into english captions, foreign subtitles or translation as well.

Define

Step 2: Define

It’s one of the most important phases in UX design. In this phase we try to give our product a definition. Before we build we will stage the success of the product. Here we will conduct some stakeholder interviews, create a value proposition. Tools which can help us in this particular phase are:

It’s a tool where we can visually express our thinking behind the decision we take. It offers us with flowcharts, wireframes, Sticky Notes and Mind Maps. We can start easily with 4 free boards to use it right away.

Miro is an online collaborative whiteboard platform to bring teams together, anytime and anywhere. We can use the features like meeting and workshop, Brainstorming session, Research and design, Strategy and planning, Mapping and diagramming with this tool.

Overflow can come really handy when we want to create interactive user flow diagrams that tell a story. It is totally compatible with Adobe Xd, Sketch and Figma currently. We can turn our design to a user flow diagram preety easily with it.

It’s a visual workspace where we can collaborate in the real time. We can plan, brainstorm or even design anything that can be expresses visually. It offers drawing flowcharts, diagrams, mind maps and more.

It’s a useful tool to make a virtual Whiteboard. We have the access of infinite canvas and we can share the link and collaborate in the canvas in realtime really helpful in communicating and collaborating in realtime.

Iterate

Step 3: Ideate

It’s the phase when user expectation from the product is established. We officially move to the design phase. It would be a collaborative process which also involves frequent iteration to the design we made as well. Depending on the size of projects and many other factors, our iterations and decision making requires some level of documentation as well. Tools which can help us in this particular phase are:

It’s one of growing popular UI design tool currently. One of the most useful feature it has is we can collaborate in a single canvass in realtime and share unlimited links to our teams and stakeholders easily. Moreover it has a web and desktop version to work with as well.

Its really useful UI design tool which helps in making up interface and it also has good prototyping features inside it with effortless sharing and consist of interaction pre-made as well. Moreover, we can find the pre-made components from the community with ease. Recently Framer for web was announced and It acts as a direct competitor to Figma.

It’s one of the leaders in UI design tool. It also has one of the great features like symbols, override and also compatible in making design system as well. It’s well suited for larger teams working in large project. And it also comes with cloud inspect for developers to write code.

It’s also well established tool in the market to design mockups. Its from Adobe and also come up with good features as well. It is also improving and recently introduced live edit and collaboration feature.

Prototype

Step 4: Prototype

In a scenario we may need to set a clickable prototype in this phase. With the help of tools we make it possible to create advanced interactions and user journeys using variables and conditions to handle logic, data-input and much more. There are some tools which cover our design and prototype as well. Adding a well transition and animation to create a meaningful experience will be helpful. Ultimately we make the prototype making it more realistic when interacting with it. Tools which can help us in this particular phase are:

It is a new and fast growing prototyping tool. It is the most intuitive way to prototype and perfect them. It all based on is no-code prototyping tool for us.

One of the senior prototyping tool in the market is Principle. It comes really handy to do the prototype and we can import files from sketch or Figma into it and create complicated prototype. It’s can also be regarded as mini Aftereffects.

Framer is both UI and prototyping tool in itself. Framer does good at working with prototype and they have predefined transition and animation to work with.

Sketch is both UI and prototyping tool in itself as well. It also have pre defined animation to make us handy in using the prototype mode.

Webflow is a UI tool and it generates code from the UI mockup as well. its also fast growing tool where we can ship the site live without the line of code. It comes really handy to websites and also Ecommerce application.

Relate helps us in designing and developing at the same time. We can design directly in web with Relate. It is also growing and they are introducing feature of design system components soon.

Test

Step 5: Test

Conducting user evaluations is done in this phase. Usually validating phase starts here where we will validate the design with actual users and take feedback from the users themselves. “Eat your own dog food” is a popular term which represents this particular stage. Tools which can help us in this particular phase are:

It is new to the market and does its job best in user testing. It turns our prototype into actionable insights from real users, bringing confidence to our design process as well.

It is a well established product in delivering full-stack of user testing overall. It progressive delivers & experimentation platform, engineering, product and marketing teams ship high-quality code and experiences faster, with data-driven confidence in the results. It also supports products like website, apps, TV and conversational products.

It is a remote user research platform that takes the guesswork out of design decisions by validating them with real users. They call themselves ‘Swiss army of user research’.

Another leading product in market is Hotjar. It helps in do the quantitative numbers and track the user interaction in our products. It is well trusted by leading companies worldwide.

They provide us with insight of our user interaction. It makes us clear on what are the struggle that is affecting our revenue and user retention. It has a sleek UI and helps us in uncovering the hidden opportunities.

It helps us in seeing what our users do in our app/website. We can also give task to users to complete it at their own time and turn our findings into a solution to make our product and deliver polished experience.

It helps in understanding what needs to be improved. It also provides us free heatmap of the URL we provide them as well.

Implement

Step 6: Implement

This phase involves handing over the crucial aspects of designing. Design systems can also be a way to handel many general aspects of the product. Reusable UI components, atomic design or design system would be great to handel larger design files as well. We need to bridge gaps between designers and developers in communicating and conveying the reason and decision we made during the design process. Tools which can help us in this particular phase are:

Alva lets us to design interactive products based on components by the developers. They are totally open source which is also great. They can also connect with interaction made into our UI tool and we can prototype with no code as well.

It acts as a visual editor without writing any single line of code and creating a design system. It’s still in beta and it seems it will bring a lot of impact in how we use our design tool as well. Its seems we can integrate it with React, Vue, Sketch, Framer, Xd, Figma etc.

It helps us in design and maintain large products and design systems. Where all our design primitives, component stays in one single place. It also comes with great features like dynamic libraries, atomic handoffs and continuous delivery.

It acts as a single source of truth for uniformed, consistent, unified, cohesive approach to power up every product that the company uses. Please reference my previous article to learn this more

Other Useful Tools

There are still more useful tools for us designers which can help us in delivering better experience to our products. Below are some handpicked tools which may be helpful in the process.

It provides us printable dots we can use in a sheet of paper and print it. We can use it to plan our Website and Apps. We can also find our necessary grid. Most helpful in layout and planning in design process.

It has the research insight on what are the leading tools in the market and how can they make a difference in the market overall. Everything about design version control, UI tool, Design system tool, Monitoring tool, Handoff and prototype all can be found here researched in the market.

Brandpad is the place where we design brand identity and make brand deliveries. Everything from creation to sharing and brand usage in one, dedicated place. Beautifully designed by us accessible to the whole team.

Best resource for type enthusiast. Here we can set our custom typography and export the style we need. We can choose font adjust letter spacing and line height to have better type. Also comes in mobile and desktop screen variation to test our font before using it. Must try out to be better regarding type overall.

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