Improve like Gutenberg

kesäkuu 26, 2017 // Steffen Halme

Mastering digital tools

If you look at your CV, have you listed the tools that you use to create design with? If so, how many of them will be out-dated sooner or later?
This blog post will focus on my experience with digital tools as a UX designer.
Looking back, it was mandatory to list all the Adobe products that you mastered or at least used occasionally. This list on my CV proofed that I’m a professional. I can create design on an advanced level. Adobe tools where the synonym for high(est)-fidelity visuals.

No Adobe anymore

I ditched Illustrator 1.5 years ago and started using Sketch. That was also the time when most of my projects started to become agile. Changing of tools after more than a decade of using the same editor wasn’t without friction. I realized my 50+ years when I dumped old beloved or hated routines and studied the basics again. Thankfully modern graphic software is more lightweight usability wise. The learning curve is quite shallow. If I’m missing a feature I find a plugin solution quite easy. Now I’ve done it once, I can do it again. Nowadays I search for good tools that can help me to automate time consuming task. The pace of sprints forces me to develop a highly effective work pipeline.

Less Pixels day by day

If you don’t need to work with photos you rarely come across a pixel anymore. The world is adaptive and responsive. The editors are vector centered. Elements that I create are highly flexible symbols. If I export my design all the effort that I invested is there. All the sizes, margins, fonts, colours are embedded in a Html file and show up when you hover or select the assets. Just thinking about the hours that I have spent in ancient times to create layout guide and add all those information in by hand. Not to mention that this work multiplies with different platforms and their screen sizes.

Pixate gate

This bright new world of elegant solutions can sometimes also knock you off your feet. For a mobile prototype, I chose Pixate (check out what the tool offered back then: http://www.pixate.com/education/demos/)
My client was very happy with the option to show the demos directly on their phones. The product owners gave comments directly through the app. The developers used it as specs for all interaction, state changes, transitions gestures. It felt very collaborative and all of that for 5€ per month. Unfortunately, it was too good to be true. Google bought the application and shortly after that the Pixate cloud closed. There was no way of running the prototype locally. All the work was lost.
Right now I’m evaluating a cloud-only solution to share my design documents with the development team. Yes, I’m hesitant to suggest this solution to my client even if the developers are praising the convenience of Zeplin (name of the tool/plugin).

Not yet collaborating?

How about graphic editors and real time collaboration? Has anyone found enough collaborators to test Figma (https://www.figma.com/), for example? Looking at their front-page animation I doubt that I would create a single shape. I would be paralyzed staring at the screen not daring to act. If you have experiences with this or other collaborative editors I’d be glad to hear about it. But for sure this is a work mode of …

… tomorrow

Tomorrow I might open a 3d game engine editor to create my interfaces in 360 ° degree and indefinite depth? Microsoft has started the race for augmented reality prepared UI with its Fluent Design (http://fluent.microsoft.com/). I feel ready to take into use whatever it takes to design UX today and tomorrow. I’m willing to revert the No to Adobe products if they adapt to user and their needs today. This is not an Adobe bashing blog post!

Steffen

p.s.
My home town is Mainz. The town the man of the millennium was born, Johannes Gutenberg. He invented the printing with movable letters and changed the world. I should always be open to innovation that reduces unproductive repetitive work like hand copying bibles.