New era for design tools

I was having coffee with a friend, where I shared about the recent trend I’ve seen with some great new design apps that allow you to design (and prototype) across multiple devices and platforms…mobile, tablet, desktop, Apple watch, you name it!

It’s great to see this kind of focus in making it easier for designers to iterate, prototype and do user tests on their designs from the start. This new era of design tools brings with it a fresh perspective on how design software can be made with the designer in mind.

Of course, there’s no better design tool other than pen and paper, but these apps do come in handy in the design process – in fact one of them works with your paper sketches.

From sketch to prototype

POP: Prototyping on Paper is a mobile app I discovered a while ago when I was searching for prototyping tools on the App Store.

It’s name pretty much tells you what it does, but POP does it really well. It’s super simple to use: take photos of your sketches; add clickable areas; run the prototype…on your phone!

Here I used Instagram as an example:

POP: Prototyping on Paper

* I was going to show another prototyping mobile app, but gave up midway as the app itself is buggy and there are painful loading times between taking photos.

Multiple screens & devices in one place

Sketch is fast becoming very popular amongst ui designers.

It’s a magical and easy flowing experience when designing for multiple devices all in one place without having to transplant components from the one screen to the next. The overall interface is very simplified and easy-to-use, which lets you just get on with your design.

Paired with iOS Mirror, an iPhone app, makes a deadly combination where you can view your designs in real-time on your phone while designing in Sketch, which not only increases your speed of designing, but you can immediately get a feel for the app on your phone as you progress.

Here I’m using artboards in Sketch for my screens:

Sketch3

Bonus: Photoshop alternative

If you haven’t heard yet, there’s a new kid on the block from Affinity Photo. From what I’ve seen so far it looks like a good competitor for Photoshop. I’m going to check it out in more detail soon to see how it works in-depth.

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