Puzzling Over UX: Sketch Plugins of Choice
My master list of tools to help you stress less so you can learn more
Welcome, students of the new cohort (or person in general who is starting to learn UX)! I have no idea what letter we’ll be on by the time you read this, but hey, welcome all the same. I’m one of the group critique facilitators at Designlab. One of the things that I realize I keep repeating for every new cohort are tips on time management and Sketch plugins that generally make life easier. These are mainly plugins that work had me download before I even touched anything, along with some cool ones that I found while trawling around the internet.
You can grab tools based on Efficiency (explains itself), Content Goodies (stuff you can use within your layouts, like placeholder images), Working with Constraints (accessibility and checking your work in a browser), or Befriending Your Devs (tools for handoffs).
Note: If you don’t know much about code, I also recommend reading the GitHub ReadMes. Some of them explain why the tool is great for designers, and why it’s helpful for developers.
IMO, Download this First
Before I even start talking about any other plugin, download Runner. It is essentially the command + space bar of Sketch (except it’s command + apostrophe). Need to make a triangle? Cool. No need to open menus anymore…command + apostrophe that and you have just genie’d yourself the triangle tool.
Most importantly, you can start typing in any of the plugins here and it will find it and download it for you.
If you have ever found yourself using your arrow keys to make sure that each of your assets are exactly 30 pixels apart, this is an excellent tool. Paired with Runner, it just makes the work time much shorter.
Organization is so, so, so necessary. When you have dozens of layers and groups, this tool will very handily help you batch-update your layers to keep them nice and tidy.
Artboards to PDF
Creates a PDF slideshow of your artboards. Great for uploading work.
I end up saving a bunch of different color palettes, and then I forget that one palette is on File A while the one I need is on File C. Load color palettes from your other work in a jiff.
Don’t waste time looking for placeholder images! This will do it for you and you can even choose between Bill Murray and kittens.
I’m not sure whether to put this in content or efficiency, so it’ll go between them. This is an inVision plugin, but it’s usable on its own. It’s got a million different things it can do, so check it out to see if it works for you.
At some point, you will amass a bunch of random avatars, names, etc. that you will use over and over again. This will populate what would’ve been a mask for each rectangle. It’s beautiful.
Icon Fonts and Icondrop
I’m not great at visual design, but sometimes, that’s okay…especially with these tools. You’ll need to download a set of icon fonts for the first one, and Icondrop grabs free-to-use icons from places like the Noun Project.
Automagically sets buttons up in a way that will make sure your text is wrapped perfectly, regardless of length. (Edit: I updated the link! SEO gave me the original first, but it seems like that’s not being edited anymore. Thanks Jeff W. for letting me know!)
It sounds silly…but it really does save time, especially if you are a fan of using segmented circles for data visualization.
Once you get to the portfolio stage, you will understand why this is useful. It’s that thing that puts your high-fidelity mocks into an iPhone delicately laying on its side.
Working with Constraints
I’m hue-blind. I have a few friends who are color-blind. Stark is a tool that will show you what several types of color blindness looks like on your site so that you can make changes accordingly.
Puts your current artboard onto a new browser window so you can take a look at it outside of Sketch. More of a “let me just see what this looks like real quick” thing.
Befriend Your Devs (Or Learn Yourself)
Turns your .sketch files into static HTML websites. You may still need a bit of HTML know-how in case something is sort of in the wrong place.
I’ll add more as I think of them. Or, let me know what I should add! I hope this helps.