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2020 roundup: What did the industry teach these designers?

Wait, is it still 2020? The decade of a year is finally drawing to a close, and I’m really happy to have published some articles with a globally diverse range great designers across different disciplines.

This is my fourth (!) year in review article, and it’s fascinating to see how tool trends shift across the years and to still hear new tools or devices that people love to use.

See you all in 2021 💜

Kyson Dana

Digital Product Designer, Rivian

2020 highlight

It’s tough to pinpoint just once specific highlight. As many of us experienced, this year was full of major ups and downs. There was rarely a moment of silence and my emotional and mental health took a major toll. I’ll spare the details for now but my struggles pushed me to seek answers in places I didn’t expect. I dedicated myself to an hour long meditation practice nearly every day. I (permanently) deleted all my social media accounts, went inward, and eventually completed a 100-hr meditation teacher training course with a renowned Senior Buddhist teacher. I have felt profound insights and changes in my life through this practice. Also, amidst the pandemic, we welcomed a new baby boy into our family in October. This year truly was a time of deep personal clarification and reflection. I now work as a Senior Product Designer at Rivian and am looking forward to the positive changes our design team can make in 2021 in the world of clean energy and electric transportation.

Favourite app or tool

My favorite app this year was Waking Up. It’s a great introductory course on the fundamentals of meditation. That said, this year I tried to ditch my smart phone as much as possible and reduced my daily screen time to under an hour. This was incredibly challenging but I can’t express just how clarifying and freeing my mind feels without having my eyes constantly glued to a screen. I aspire for next year to have my favorite app/tool will just be a notebook and pencil. And yes, I too see the irony in a ux designer who avoids using a smartphone. 2020 has been weird.

Pantufla Cuántica

Freelance product designer

2020 highlight

Working with some of my favorite designers.

Favourite app or tool

Todoist and notion.

Georgie Luhur Cooke

UI Engineer, Campaign Monitor

2020 highlight

No one expected the COVID pandemic to happen, nor the impact it would have on our lives. But it gave me the time to reflect on the people and relationships in my life and I was able to form stronger bonds with some of my closest coworkers and friends, as well as feeling extreme gratitude for them all.

Favourite app or tool

After 2020, it would probably be remiss of me not to say Zoom, right?!

Gregory Christian

Senior Product Designer, Blockchain

2020 highlight

Two things come to to mind. The first is how my Wife and I adjusted to both working from home out of our Brooklyn apartment. Learning how each other works best, quiet time, intentional walks to get out of the house. It’s been a good test on our communication skills. Happy to report all is good. The second highlight is exercise. Running to be exact. I’ve had a love/hate view on running my whole life. Around month 3 of quarantine, I was gett’n lazy. No more walking around Manhattan. No more walking to the dog park. So I started running in March. I’d take routes not so common to avoid people. As of right now, I’m at 118 miles over 30h 59m. That is rad. Went from chunk to hunk.

Favourite app or tool

CloudApp. No questions. I’ve been a pro user before 2020 but this year, they doubled down to help remote workers. CloudApp automatically uploads system screen shots and copies a share url to your clipboard. ⌘+SHIFT+4 to screen grab then ⌘+V to share. This year, they also added annotation, video recording, mic on/off for aded audio context. You can even screen record and turn on your camera if you want to add your beautiful face to the experience. As a bonus, it acts as a personal archive all my work and internet findings from over the last few years.

Anton Sten

UX Design Lead, Contract

2020 highlight

Highlight of this year have been the decision to put the past behind me and form my life the way I want.

Favourite app or tool

Favorite app is — nothing revolutionary — but I really like how Slack is operating. Also, Zoom might seem simple and basic but compare it to Skype and it feels revolutionary!

Catt Small

Product designer, Asana

2020 highlight

My team at Asana launched a new product area that enables teams to create strategic goals and connect them to projects and Portfolios. Asana empowers teams to prioritize the work that matters most based on top-level objectives. We’ve released several updates since the July launch and are excited to continue improving the experience!

Favourite app or tool

Adobe Fresco. I got a new iPad and Apple Pencil 2 for sketching. Out of all the drawing apps, Adobe Fresco best matches my mental model.

Rob Hope

Designer, developer and maker

2020 highlight

Published my first book: Landing Page Hot Tips and it’s done really well. Grab $20 off using the coupon 8px applied here: https://gumroad.com/l/hottips/8px

Favourite app or tool

Screenflow. Recently downgraded Adobe CC to Photoshop only as I’m using Screenflow for everything Adobe Premiere was doing. I use Screenflow for editing the Yo! Podcast, capturing UI animations for One Page Love social media and all my video tutorials. It’s the one.

Charu Choudha

UX Designer, Google

2020 highlight

I made a switch from Microsoft India to Google Design, India this year, which was the most exciting career update this year!

Favourite app or tool

Figma for all team collaborations. Also made use of google keep a lot to make lists, more than ever this year to stay organised at home. And lastly, YouTube for all kinds of videos — cooking, workout, fun stuff etc

Angela Chua

Product design consultant

2020 highlight

Personal highlight — I got into a new hobby of bread making

Professional highlight — Multiple cross-team and cross-agency collaborations

Favourite app or tool

Noteshelf, Paprika and a love-hate relationship with Notion.

Aurora Pleguezuelo

Design systems, Github

2020 highlight

Personal or professional highlight of the year
Two things. Personally I’m really happy I let this pandemic teach me to not take time for granted and decided to try new things like starting a YouTube channel. Professionally I’m so proud and happy to have been a part of the GitHub dark mode project.

Favourite app or tool

The very app I’m using to write this bit: Bear. I like how it can keep up with my pace. It’s so fast to open and I use it to take notes of all sorts. Quick thoughts or essays. It’s simple and pleasant to use.

Daniel Abayomi

Senior visual designer, Modus Create

2020 highlight

So this year has been very amazing for me. I joined Wallets Africa as a Lead Product designer. I just left Wallets Africa to join ModusCreate @ModusCreate as a Senior Visual Designer.

I also recently joined Toptal as a Senior Product Designer. It’s been an awe-inspiring year.

Favourite app or tool

I use Figma for designs everyday. I love it so much. I also use Principle for prototyping.

Simon Dagfinrud

Interaction Designer, UserTesting.com

2020 highlight

My girlfriend and I moved from Oslo to Amsterdam. We had started the moving process last year, so we were way past the point of no return when the pandemic hit.

We were actually in Amsterdam looking for an apartment when it started, and ended up having to go home on an almost empty 737, which was pretty surreal. Our apartment lease in Oslo ended before we could find something in Amsterdam too, which meant we had to go back to our hometown and families.

But eventually we made it! Now we’ve settled in and even with the pandemic, we’re super happy so far.

Favourite app or tool

It’s only been a few weeks since I got it, but I’m really happy with my Remarkable tablet. It lets me doodle like on paper, but with infinite pages. Getting my thoughts out on the paper/screen helps me think more visually, and makes everything a bit more concrete.

Aqeela Valley

Product designer, Over

2020 highlight

Professionally I would say building and releasing the Design System for the Over Web App built in Figma, which I am currently still managing and maintaining. I have since learnt a ton about building design systems which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

A personal highlight would be moving in to a new apartment with space for a separate office. It’s been refreshing, especially after a long time in lockdown.

Favorite app or tool

mymind, it’s just great way to save & reference all sorts of things and not have to worry too much about organising any of it. Also really love the aesthetic of the app.

Paulo Dziobczenski

Design researcher, Aalto University

2020 highlight

Launching designcareer.co.

Favourite app or tool


Stephanie Briones

Design systems lead, Zapier

2020 highlight

Personal: Starting a garden in the spring. Growing lettuce and greens, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and lots more was a really nice way to spend time, learn a lot, and feed us during the early days of the pandemic. And the garden is still going!

Professional: Launching a brand-new version of our design system this month! It’s the product of several months of work and tons of collaboration with my team, and we’re so happy with the results. Excited to continue the work in 2021!

Favourite app or tool


Want to read previous yearly roundups?




Life, by designers.

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Luis Ouriach

Luis Ouriach

Design and community @FigmaDesign, newsletter writer, co-host @thenoisepod, creator of @8pxmag. Sarcastic.

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