If you build it, they will come… Ehh, that’s technically accurate, but there’s so much more behind building a website or a product to get users to show up and stay. It’s a combination of things, including team collaboration, market research, design, development, management, marketing, iterating, and more.
But I’m here to talk about the “design phase” part of it all.. while it includes everything I mentioned above, there are a few tools I use at LAB Ventures that really help move things along quickly, efficiently, and within budget… this is crucial when building different products on an ongoing basis.
A few tools that help me in the UI process, include:
People underestimate the power Google truly has. You can’t expect a creative person to be inspired at all hours of the day.. it’s not possible. Creativity stems from an emotion within, and just like there’s writers block…. Creative block is also a real thing.
In comes Google.. the first step to my UI Design process. After conducting UX research, and gathering insight from competitors (both in-class and out-of-class companies), reading data about the market I am targeting, and understanding the problem we’re trying to solve at its core, it’s safe to say that creativity begins to creep up on me eventually… and not only on a visual level, but on a more calculated and thoughtful-to-our-users level.
Because art can be subjective, research takes all the guesswork out of the equation, saves time, and helps guide designers, such as myself, to target the kind of features needed, the kind of branding style that can appeal to our target market, and the language that can pique their interest, while implementing overall best practices and trends in today’s tech industry.
Designers are nothing without creation tools like SKETCH - my ultimate favorite mockup-creating tool. This is where all the magic happens. Sketch is a vital step in the designing phase. Think of it this way, you can’t (or rather shouldn’t) build a house without a blueprint, right? If you do, your bathroom might somehow end up in the middle of the kitchen… A plan is always needed in this phase to make things easier, faster, smarter, and more budget-friendlier. It also helps you catch mistakes and iterate before something has been built and developed. This is what Sketch is for…. A designer’s best friend to plan a product before it is built…. This reduces mistakes, headaches during the iteration process, and offers faster results… ALL GOOD QUALITIES that benefit the entire team.
Figma… and Adobe XD are great alternative options. But Sketch has my heart… until further notice.
Remember that time I said that Sketch was a great planning tool, reducing mistakes before the development phase? Well, Invision would be the sister of that process.
Once a concept is fleshed out, it needs to move into the prototyping phase… for me, personally, Invision is the easiest way to do that. A favorite among top dog tech companies like AirBnB and eBay, this prototyping tool allows the team to come in, try out the concept you’ve designed, and gives them the chance to input feedback. This is another huge time saver in catching problems or making changes before a developer goes into action.
If it’s not an application we want to build, per se, but more of a website for marketing your product… our team loves WEBFLOW. There’s SO much room for creativity on Webflow. Apple even used it for marketing their new iPods recently. The website came out incredible… and definitely inspiring for a designer like me.
When it IS an application, our team uses Bubble.io, specifically for the beginning phase of launching a product. Bubble.io is a budget-friendly, yet great way, to test our products and validate our research even more to know if there’s space for it in the industry. This insight will help us iterate products quickly, or throw them out all together.