The Power Of A Design Swipe File

Originally published at Keynotopia’s blog by Amir Khella

I design and prototype dozens of apps every year, and one of my best tricks is spending a couple of hours every day browsing through the latest UI inspirations and design trends.

I browse UI-patterns websites, I look at designers’ portfolios, I read design-related news, and I download top selling apps and play with them.

But I don’t “just look” at those interfaces and app screens!

Whenever I find a design that I like, I add it to a Design Swipe File (notebook in Evernote). And if I find a design that inspires me, I re-create it immediately in Keynote (using Keynotopia templates), so that it becomes part of my visual prototyping vocabulary.

I now have a huge Design Swipe File in Keynote, containing more than 100 ready-to-use screens in various categories. I simply drag and drop those screens into my new prototypes, customize them quickly, and only design from scratch the ones that are unique to my prototype.

This saves me a lot of time, and it helps me get inspired and stay inspired.

Here’s what my Keynote Swipe File looks like:

If you want to become good at designing interfaces and prototyping apps, I recommend doing the following:

1- Download top selling apps frequently, use them, and notice what makes them engaging and easy to use. Take screenshots and add them to a design swipe file (digital notebook or hard drive folder).

2- Browse popular UI shots on Dribbble, Pttrns, PatternTap, and Captivate, and save the ones that inspire you

3- Spend an hour copying an interface every day, for the next 30 days.

The more interfaces you copy, the more interfaces you understand, and the better you get at prototyping new apps.

EDIT: I have been asked to share my iPhone app swipe file, so I am making it available here.