Don’t be afraid of change

Especially when it comes to your tools

I’ve recently been watching the Adobe XD live series which follows a handful of designers (Travis Neilson (Google), Jessica Zhang, Johny Vino and Cece Yu (Facebook)) as they design websites and apps live on air.

The series is basically a promo for Adobe’s user experience design app, Adobe XD, but what I found fascinating was Travis’ workflow. I’ve been working as a design professional for 20 years this year and I’ve changed my tools a little bit during that time. For example I originally created hand-made artwork using cameras and dark rooms (yes, it was a while ago!), then I moved on to Aldus Pagemaker, Quark Xpress and then the Adobe suite with InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator becoming my go-to tools.

Over the last 5 years or so I’ve been writing more and more code and really getting my hands dirty writing OOP PHP and JavaScript and mainly designing user interface systems and websites so my tools have changed again to PHPStorm, Sublime Text, lots (and lots!) of command line tools and mainly Photoshop for the UI design work. Design-for-print is rare for me these days but I do dip in and out of InDesign for any document design still.

This week I’ve been experimenting with Sketch and Adobe XD for UI work. I tried early beta of these apps and I shrugged my shoulders and continued to use Photoshop as I thought that they were too basic. This week however I have discovered that it’s their basic-ness that is their strength over the bloated Photoshop. Users have contributed icon sets, UI kits and all manner of helpful assets which you can use with these apps and they are both really snappy to work with. They both offer tools that really are designed for modern day screen design such as repeatable components, built-in grid systems, easy client proofing, on-device UI testing and the UI kits and I can honestly say that I’m 100% converted.

It’s easy to get stuck in your ways and think that there is no better way of working but it really pays to watch how other professionals work and try out different tools from time to time. You never know, you may even improve 😉

I also loved Travis’ way of working. Sketching up rough wireframes, trying out ideas, looking for inspiration in other apps and then working up UI designs whilst solving problems on the fly as he worked through the layouts. Check out the Adobe videos on Behance or on YouTube if you are interested.