A new phase has started and digital design has never been so rich with tools to assist us do what we do best, while improving our productivity by giving us focus, control and a good amount of automation. As freelancers, we want both to remain on top of the sport by honing our design skills, but also increase productivity when it involves other tasks, not necessarily design-related, but equally important to try an excellent job as freelance professionals.
Here is a collection of the tools that can be of help to you designer:
1. UX/UI Design
The options are growing rapidly here. From a couple of years ago, when Photoshop was the go-to tool, to now, lots went on. First came Sketch and disrupted the entire thing by making a tool especially targeting UI design. Then many others joined the stream, a couple of them have gained popularity among designers to become more of a typical- for instance:
Figma has gained tons of ground recently, being excellent at collaboration, but also having more advanced prototype features than others. Sharing with other stakeholders is additionally very easy. The pricing model includes a free version with up to three projects and a couple of collaborators, while the paid subscription- 144$/year or 15$/month- allows unlimited projects and collaborators, among other useful features.
Adobe XD maybe a close contender too, albeit at the instant still not as complete because of the tools above. On the other hand, within the free version, it’s possible to possess unlimited files, while the sharing functionality is restricted. The complete version for XD is for 9.99$/month unless you buy the entire Adobe Creative Cloud.
2. All-round design
As a designer you would possibly end up doing a good spectrum of things, starting from illustration, to photo editing, animation, etc. For that reason, the Adobe Creative Cloud package offers everything to hide all of these used cases and more. At initial look, you would possibly think it’s pricey, but it’s an excellent suite of products and simply used several times a month if you are doing quite strict UI. The monthly price is 52.99$.
Prototyping is vital to several stages within the design process: from an easy sanity test on your own to user testing, presentations, stake-holders management, everything is far easier to know once you can click around and see the thing happening right on the device.
Prototyping is often an easy click-through flow or a more realistic one using animations and transitions. Using real data with API and therefore they are often a much-needed thanks to test a product in an as realistic a way as it gets, without having to implement the planning just yet. If you would like more advanced animation features, then Principle is the go-to tool. Unfortunately only available for macOS, otherwise excellent handover from Sketch and Figma- as long as you retain your layers tidy. It costs 129$ for a year of updates. While sharing with stakeholders is often a pain (also Apple users only), the experience of getting a high-fidelity prototype in your hands with this quality might be well worth the downsides.
If you're leaning towards Figma, then you get great handover capabilities with it. Even Marvel has this functionality. If you select Sketch or XD as your design tool, then you ought to check out zeplin. The worth ranges from 204$ to 312$/year. Quite pricey indeed.
As a designer, the likelihood is that that you simply also got to make more structured presentations for your designs from time to time. Keynote may be a useful gizmo and it’s free, although only available on macOS. Google Slides is additionally a really good tool, and like all Gmail account tools, it’s free and supports live collaboration. If you’re trying to find more advanced features or would rather have your domain as against gmail.com, G Suite features a basic membership plan for 6$/month.
6. Cloud storage
Storing files only on a tough drive may be a hazard. We all know someone whose laptop has received an abundant cup of coffee on the keyboard and inevitably risked losing everything with every drop leaking into its sorcery. To avoid that and be ready to drink your coffee without risking any loss, cloud storage may be a handy solution. Not only is it a backup for yourself, it’s also a swift means to share files together with your team and stakeholders. Also, version control may be a brilliant feature for you which will save your day if you mistakenly remove things from a file.
Note-taking might be a piece of writing of its own. That’s because the utilization cases are many and therefore the tools have multiplied over the years. Granted, nothing stops you from just writing on an easy text editor and saving it in your disk drive. However, new software has increased the workflow so much that it's worth taking a glance at the chances. Google Docs. once more an honest option for its collaboration and sharing features, but it’s less specific to note-taking than any text editor out there. It’s browser-based only, which could be a con for a few people.
Another tool that has gained an enormous amount of traction lately is Notion. Notion is straightforward to use and delightful, but it also allows far more than simply writing text: using the principle of blocks, you'll quickly make a to-do list, a board, table, calendar- beat one document. Its versatility makes it an excellent tool for oneself also as teams, so you'll jump from your meeting notes to the team’s task board. The free version comes with limited storage (1000 blocks), while the most cost-effective paid plan is 4$/month for one user.
Dropbox paper is another complementing tool of a much bigger service, a part of the storage subscription offering. If you recognize you'll get a Dropbox plan, it’s a pleasant editor to undertake. It is especially used for collaboration, but a touch thin on the editor part.
8. Task management
Keeping track of what you ought to neutralize, a project can get messy sometimes. Things are available from the side, other things get bumped in priority, others have dependencies on some to be done before. You would like to be ready to see your progress also as to what proportion and what's left to try.
Google Meet is another tool, a part of the Google offering. It’s fully integrated with email and calendar, making it swift to use. It allows calls with multiple people at an equivalent time and therefore the video/sound quality is extremely good. For those calling in, there's no need for a Google account.
10. Time reporting
Keeping track of the time spent during a project is prime to possess a transparent relationship together with your clients, but also for you to understand what proportion of time you're spending versus the budget you've been given.
11. Password management
Being your own business, you would like to store a lot of important information. Passwords need to be kept safe and altered regularly. Isolating a password management tool may be a much-needed precaution and it'll easily repay itself.