A highly subjective way of how I do design

The following is a highly subjective look at how I do design. Most of this is probably wrong if not all of it. But I appreciate criticism and would love to hear your thoughts on how I may be able to improve.

My introduction to design, specifically designing software and web pages, started by dribbling around in Apple’s keynote software. Yup, you heard me right, Keynote. Now for those of you who don’t know what keynote is- Keynote is an application created by Apple to create presentations, analogous to Microsoft Powerpoint on windows. Now I know it was definitely not created for the purpse of designing anything other that slideshows for school or work, but it has become one of my favorite told for quickly building up a mockup or to try out a design idea that pops into my head. I would recommend Keynote as a software to learn design for beginners for a couple of reasons:

  1. It has really intuitive and easy to use tools
  2. The guides and placement tools make sure you align the elements right in relation to each other.
  3. Even though the tools are really easy to start using, it can also become really powerful once you start using it.

I was highly amazed to see that I was not the first one to use keynote as a design software and lot of people use keynote to mockup design really quickly and even use the built in animation tools in Keynote to bring their design to life. I was even more suprised to see that engineers at Apple themselves use Keynote to iterate on their design and create mockups quickly in one of their WWDC sessions! Here’s the session if you’re interested, a really good session in my opinion — https://developer.apple.com/videos/play/wwdc2016/805.

As time went on, I began to spend more time programming and less time thinking of design, believing that I will get to the design as I went along creating the product and adding functionality. Now this was not a big deal as I spent my time creating web based applications, either a webpage or a webpage wrapped in a webview for mobile application. Being a web application, iterating the design was very trivial. Now before you good web developers on the internet come pouncing on me, let me explain. Web design is comparatively easier compared to design in other forms of application development. From CSS that you can use to easily style elements, to the class and id system that makes adding styles to elements a breeze, and the ability to see your changes reflected in real time — sometimes without even reloading the pages, the time taken to makes changes in the design of a web page is drastically lesser than that of say mobile application development. Honestly, just the build times are enough to through you off, not to mention the convulated ways you have to take to style elements, and subclassing elements can take quite a while and lots of debugging as well. This and the fact that I now had to work with multiple other developers meant I had to make mockups of the design of the product before we even started to work.

Enter Sketch…

Sketch by bohemian coding is the simplest, most easy to use software for software designers. Period.

What the amazing team behind sketch has created in unlike anything I have ever used in my life. It is as simple to use as Keynote, even the layout of the software and the tools are easy to get used to coming from other Apple software, yet so much more powerful, enabling you to create pretty much anything you can imagine.

With features like art boards, symbols, slices and background blurs, its hard to find another tool that offers so much yet is so intuitive to use. Best of all is the community that use Sketch and share their knowledge on the internet. You can find UI kits for all kinds of designs and platforms like Google’s Material Design, iOS’s very blurred out UI and Microsoft’s Metro UI.

If you are a beginner to software or web design, I highly encourage you to go get Sketch’s free trial at https://www.sketchapp.com and give it a spin. (Sadly, Sketch currently only exists for MacOS but here’s hoping they release a version for the loyal followers of the boys from Redmond soon).

When it comes to designing in Sketch, you lose the animation functionality that Keynote used to provide, but you can get that back and more if you’re willing to use Framer by Facebook. It lets you use your artboards from Sketch to make UI that animates and responds to user interaction like scrolling and tapping. I’ve personally never used it much because I figured that if I can spend time writing code to make my UI come to life, I could probably go ahead and write code for the actual product.

But as a footnote, I’d like to just make on important note. It really doesn’t matter which software you use, or what platform you use. If you are really into design, you can find ways to do it on anything, be it a pencil and a pad of paper or Powerpoint or Photoshop, it all lies in your ablility to use what you have at hand to create something great. So go ahead, fire up your favorite software and design away!

PS. I was not endorsed by Sketch, but I really wish they did, I would love to get paid for telling people about the fantastic software they have made.