Web Design

6 Amazing Tools to Boost your efficiency as a UI/UX Designer in 2020

As a web or app designer, your overall design and ease of usage are crucial in engaging your users. With this in mind, you’ll need to focus on User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI). Although UX and UI are used interchangeably, they are two distinct areas of web design. While UX focuses on the overall feel of a style, UI focuses on the specifics.

Thus, UI tools provide designers with what they need to create the right design aspects. Such aspects include design hi-fi wireframes, prototypes, and mock-ups. In essence, they represent the engine of your design in communicating its functionality. On the flip side, UX tools focus on how the user will experience your content. These tools enable you to structure the information in your content and how users flow with it. They help designers visualize how the content and organization will affect the experience.

With several designing tools available to designers, selecting the best UX and UI tools can be challenging. So we’ll take a look at six amazing design tools you can start with. This list gives you information on features that can allow you to bring more diversity to your web designs. And also improve their efficiency in the UI and UX areas in 2020.

Miro

Miro is an all-rounder white-boarding and collaboration tool. It’s a UX tool that you can use for workshops, note organization, scenario-mapping, presentations, or user flows. Although the custom templates have little brand team support, the infinite canvas feature is excellent. It will allow you to create wireframes that can go on forever.

Miro Tool

What I love about this tool is that it is easy to use, unlike other similar products. The simple user interface makes it smack easy for anyone to jump on and use. Miro is excellent for web design beginners or the early stage of your web conception. Another noticeable feature is the ability to integrate with other tools. For example, Dropbox, G Suite, Microsoft products, and Slack.

The free version allows unlimited team membership, three editable boards, integrations, and templates. And the team and business plans cost $8 and &16 per month, respectively. They come with extra features like Kanban framework, private board sharing, and external editors.

Notion

The Notion design tool is one of the best UI designing tools. It lets you take notes, edit, and arrange the information. The information is gathered from user articles, tables, presentations, or insights collection. When it comes to collecting user feedback, Notion is your go-to tool. Feedback is gotten through utilizing its features of making pages public and changeable. The embedding function of this tool is the highlight. You can embed almost anything, for example, Framer, InVision, and Figma prototypes.

Additionally, your teams can collaborate remotely using the text editor for notes or documents. They can drop comments on projects, reply, or view version history. You can also paste pictures, video, public and private links, and a whole lot more. Another advanced feature is the full support for complex tables and databases. However, it might not have the flexibility of an actual excel spreadsheet. But it works well if you need to build a universal document for your team. Generally, Notion has a lighter feel and is quicker to use. The Notion has a free plan, an individual plan at $4, and a team pro plan for $8 monthly.

Maze

The Maze is another excellent tool on the list of best UX tools. The intuitive interface is polished and gamified for easy usage. It comes with a testing platform for syncing current designs and prototypes. Gradually, it shows you how your design performs using insights and actionable metrics. The free demo works through this. You can likewise enhance your product at the design phase quicker.

Testing can be done with prototypes created in Marvel, Sketch, InVision, or Figma. By simply copying and pasting the prototype link in Maze, you can start developing tests to gather user insights. The Maze platform is perfect for a variety of task-based usability testing and unmoderated users. And it works for recruiting test participants, collating feedback and metrics into reports.

Maze Tool

The free version of Maze allows only one designer to conduct testing. And there’s the full version that enables team designing at a time for $42 per month (billed annually).

Icons8

Icons8 UI tool offers you high -quality illustrations in various styles. There are several web and app functions to pick from. The icons can be produced in any color, size, or format. Icon8 is way more than just a collection of icons. It has customization features that enable you to add overlays, texts, music, or background to your designs.

There’s the free Icons8 version with limited features and also the paid version. It starts at $24 per month for functions like icons, music, photos, and illustrations. These features can also be purchased separately according to your design needs.

Blush

Blush is a designing tool that enables you to re-design and blend illustrations created by other artists. They are top-quality illustrations and come in different styles. Providing art and making it reachable to all is the core element of this tool. Blush integrates as a plug-in on Figma. Thus it is easy for illustrators to customize the illustration in their toolkit. And likewise creating banners for your blog posts, adding flair to your slides, and visuals to your graphs.

There is a forever-free plan that allows you to use high-quality PNG images. The images are available for personal and commercial design purposes. It also comes with a paid version, if you need vector illustrations as SVGs (resolution-free). Blush provides additional control over the layers, print resolution, and other advanced functions. It works well for designers when creating particular illustrations. Tasks such as specific color change or creation of animations are done with ease. You are not required to mention Blush or the artist when using an illustration. But it would be more appropriate to give some credit.

Blush Tool

Useberry

Useberry is a lightweight, holistic, and intuitive user-testing tool. It enables codeless prototype analytics for UI and UX designs. Other functionalities on this UX design tool include illustration, copy-writing, iconography, and animations. The testing platform on Useberry, let’s you examine present prototypes and draw up analytics. It is also enriched with heatmaps, video recording, user flow, time bars, and more.

Integration with other prototype platforms is one of the best. Useberry can integrate with five prototype making platforms. These include Figma, InVision, Adobe XD, Sketch, and Marvel. There are the free version and basic plans that starter at $19 per month for pricing.

Conclusion

Each web or app design requires specific features that can enable you to create something functional and diverse. Thus it’s vital first to have an idea of what purpose you want your design to serve. Then you can match your needs to the features of these UX and UI designing tools mentioned above. Once you have picked the right UI or UX tool designing a functional and interactive page gets easier.

Everything that you need to know about Sketch and AI Powered Plugins

Have you heard about creating designs with code? You might think that this will not work, but it certainly does. You might even believe that this will be as hard as climbing a very rocky slope mountain with nothing to hold on to until you feel yourself falling. Isn’t it hard? But it is not. Working with codes to make a design is possible once you’ve started working with Sketch. Now with AI-powered plugins, you can incorporate with Sketch, it will become easier. 

What Is Sketch? 

Sketch, a vector graphics editor for macOS created by the Dutch company Bohemian Coding, is mainly a design kit that lets you build your best work using codes and scripts. It is a professional design software for macOS that uses a full vector workflow. The app can be used by anyone, from website designers, UX and UI designers or by just someone who wants a vector for his personal use. The interface is easy, and it is hard for you to get lost. It was developed a few years ago and aimed to provide a lightweight and responsive tool kit for creatives. 

Sketch is growing immensely in recent years, and many designers have been using it and testifying of its efficiency

Advantages Of Using Sketch

Considered by some as the game-changer in the design industry, there had been notable advantages of the software. 

  • Time Saver – Sketch comes in with handy pre-made templates that make work incredibly fast and shorten processes. Given the underwhelming number of tools, designers have noted that it made their task easier and allowed them to work with large files. Even saving your work has been quite easy and fast with Sketch.
  • Simplicity – Its interface is simple, and it has automatic guides. It focuses on the design and not on the technical aspect.
  • Resizing Capabilities – This feature has been one of the rages from designers who are working with Sketch. You can work in any size and export it into multiples sizes. 
  • Multiples Pages You Can Work On – You can organize your files and artboards the way you want it. 

AI-Powered Plugin In Sketch 

Probably one of the greatest things you’ll encounter in Sketch is its widespread availability of plugins. Whether you use plugins to make your animations incredible or you want to add some visualizations on your project, you can have broad access to plugins, thanks also to the astonishing community building it. Considered as a designer’s best friend, a plugin for Sketch are essentials in the design process. It is also growing in numbers day by day.

Artificial intelligence is the ability of a computer to simulate human intelligence without any human interaction. For this reason, many software has been using AI-powered plugins to provide better experiences for users. 

Since relatively new in the market, this feature is yet to gain momentum in Sketch. However, you can easily create an AI-powered plugin in Sketch. 

How To Come Up With An AI-powered Plugin For Sketch

Matthew Dutour made a now-infamous detailed instruction (along with the codes and script) of creating an AI-powered plugin for Sketch determining an image if it is a hotdog or if it is not. According to him, you will need two things to create an AI-powered plugin. One of which is a classifier and a Sketch plugin which will utilize the classifier. 

These are the essential steps you need to follow to make your AI-powered plugin: 

Create And Train The Classifier

A classifier is a system that can identify an item to which set it belongs to,  using a string of samples it has been fed. These samples are the images that your classifier can rely on to classify whatever you want to identify. In the case of Dutour, it was hotdogs. He downloaded two (2) sets of images – one set containing all possible kinds of hotdogs while the other is just another set of random things. 

After downloading the images, it was stored into two separate folders named base on its classification, e.g. hotdog and not_hotdog. At this point, if you’re following the steps of Dutour, you can now start building the model or training your classifier. Leverage on software like Turi Creates to help you do this. 

Using this tool, you build your model by creating a Python script and uploading your two sets of images. You can then ask the tool to pull a UI to check on your dataset. The key takeaway here is that you need to check how your classifier is doing by tweaking the number of iterations to test its accuracy.

Make A Sketch Plugin

The next step after you are done with your classifier is to make a Sketch plugin that will use it. You can also use software like skpm to create the plugin and should appear in no time to the Plugin menu in Sketch. 

You have to note, however, that you need to put your classifier where the plugin can easily access it. You can do this by opening a new document in Sketch and moving all of your models on this so the plugin can have access to it. After doing so, you need to run the command, npm run watch in your terminal. 

Sketch Document Interaction

Once you are all set to start, you need to create first a Sketch document, insert an image and then select the picture again. Then you have to interact with it by determining if it is an image layer by grabbing hold of the layer in the user’s selection. 

Use of macOS Framework

Since Sketch is a native macOS application, you need to find a plugin that has access to its framework. The plugin you’ll be needing for is Vision as recommended by Dutour. Load it in your plugin, load the classifier you have created and get your model. Don’t forget to “request handler” that will get the image analysis you made and apply it on your image. For the last step, run your classifier and get the result you need.

Final Thoughts

As more and more companies are now turning to Sketch to complete their task, it is expected to grow more in the coming days. Sketch is a game-changer, and it is taking a massive leap against its competitors. It offers a simple and easy way to design things that eradicates the long-dreaded processes and commands that can be now done with just a tap of a simple button. 

As Artificial Intelligence is now becoming part of many industries, we can say that AI and machine learning can make an excellent tool for designs as well. It is becoming mainstream nowadays and helps boost creativity among designers. 

The future is bright for Sketch with its efficiency and with AI becoming a part of it, it will set the bar high for everybody and as Dutour said it, more than hotdogs of course. 

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