Design

Best Tools to Bring Your Design to Life

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Here are a few of the best tools WxP uses to design and get things done. From the creative tools and resources to the biz stuff, we cover it all.

Pen and Paper

Pen & Paper

It may be cliche, but nothing gets the brain going like a good ol' fashion sketch session. Whether that is just joting down thoughts and requirements or creating full-fledged pencil sketches of your design, get your brain moving in the real world before jumping on a computer.

Keep an Open Mind

An Open Mind

Just keeping it cheesy. No really, I promise this is the last ambiguous one.

But seriously, don't be closed minded. There are design rules and requirements that you have to follow but that doesn't mean you can't be creative. Think outside the box — or as I like to say in design — outside the grid. Break rules and boundries and try ideas you never thought you would before. Be inspired by other designers but don't hinder your own creativity just to create something trendy. Make developers mad. Do it all in the name of design and stand behind your choices.

Adobe Creative Cloud

The Holy Grail of creative software. There is a reason Adobe Creative Cloud is the industry standard and why I wouldn't trust my design work to any other app. After 30+ years, Adobe is still creating innovative software for creative professionals. Whether it's photography manipulation and web design in Photoshop or elaborate illustrations and simple icons in Illustrator or publication design or vector animation or web prototypes or literally whatever else you can imagine, Adobe has the tool to create it.

Yeah, it costs a lot to own (er, subscribe to) but it's beyond worth it for access to the latest app updates, any program you want (even if just to try), all fonts on TypeKit, downloadable assets from other creatives, plus a free Behance portfolio. Yeah, I'd say that's worth it.

FontBase

If you are like me, the default Font Book app on Mac just doesn't cut it — so, I began searching endlessly for an app that would allow me to simply organize and preview fonts. Well, I finally discovered FontBase, a simple app that allows me to organize all my fonts how I feel fit, preview all fonts on my computer (plus, on Google Fonts!) and create collections for further organization. I can activate and deactivate fonts inside the app, which is a great way to save RAM while designing in already large files.

Oh! And the best part of all?! Grid View Preview (ie Google Fonts)! To all other font sites: please, don't show me one font per line, I want to see multiple per line, I want to see wrapping, don't be stingy!

Webflow

A designers' key to web developing, Webflow is a powerful tool that allows designers to create websites visually, without writing code. Not based on templates or themes, all sites are built from the front-end ground up. This gives designers full control over styling, layout, even interactions — without bugging your developer!

Sketch App

I admit it, I was skeptical. What could Sketch do that Adobe couldn't? Well, apparently, alot.

Sketch is super powerful and fast! All vector based, you build website and apps on a pixel board while keeping all your elements easily editable. There is a huge library of plugins that only makes the app better with new capabilities and functions. I recommend learning all about Symbols and what they can do — you'll be amazed.

Invision

Best tool for showing off your web comps to your clients. Simply, upload your document to Invision and add a few hot spot links and you'll have a fully functioning prototype for your client to interact with, comment and share.

Craft by Invision

Invision is full of innovative tools — that they constantly update and share — including Craft. This is the desktop app you need if you make websites often. Compatible with Sketch and Photoshop, Craft brings powerful functions to complete your concept. Add placeholder images, headlines and content, repeat elements with ease, and even upload your comp straight to Invision.

Slack App

Slack

Okay, even though you freelance you sometimes have to talk to other humans. Email is great but can be slow. Phone calls are archaic and a waste of time. Slack is how companies communicate. Connect as many workspaces (clients) as you know and instantly ask questions, see updates and just be in the know with all the circles you are in.

Asana

If you're anything like me, scheduling is the hardest part of my job. I've turned to Asana to attempt to organize my life. All tasks are grouped by projects that are all associated with clients, which makes sorting super quick and simple. I used the Calendar view most of the time to see what's happening now, next and anything I may have missed over the past week.

Zipbooks

You gotta get paid! Zipbooks is our booking software of choice. It's beautiful and easy to use, from time tracking and client profiles to invoices and transaction tracking, we are able to easily manage the number side of business.

GSuite

I think just about every company, from startups to big agencies, uses GSuite. It's the Google version of Office, which is super expensive and as a Mac, just can't do. From mail to presentations to video chat and drive, the apps are endless and super handy! I like to occasionally check out the new apps Google has come up with.

Envato Elements

With a yearly subscription, you get access to thousands of, I mean thousands, of Envato Elements. I got this originally for the endless font downloads but stayed for the graphics, photos, icons, actions, brushes and so much more! This makes me want to learn video and 3D just to download the assets.

iStock

There are hundreds of stock photo sites, I'm sure you have a "better" one. But I like iStock, it's simple, credit based, and has 99% of what I want.

Font Awesome

I'll admit it was difficult to give up the urge to recreate and recreate and recreate the same icons for my various web comps, but icon-fonts are way more web friendly and, honestly, better designed. Font Awesome is truly awesome. All you need is the keyword (or cheat code) and BOOM! an icon appears, in three different weights. There are thousands of icons and more being added constantly!

Muzli

This is a super fun and inspiring Google Chrome plugin that I explore nearly everyday. Muzli makes itself your default browser tab, providing fresh, beautiful content daily.

Full Page Screen Capture

Yes, yes I did include a screenshot tool. Only because this Chrome extension has saved my ass more time than I can count. Gone are the days of trying to stitch an entire web page together, with Full Page Screen Capture you get a screenshot of the entire web page — from nav to footer! Plus, who doesn't love a cute Pacman animation while they wait?

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