My daily workflow as a product designer

One of the basic rules for being a product designer is keeping up to date with new trends, tech updates, software launches or new types of users. Sometimes you ask yourself: “When will I stop learning new things?”. But the answer is never, that’s why we need to be permeable to new knowledge and know that learning is something that always benefits you.

Since I started working for Moka, my workflow and the tools I was used to working with at university changed. That’s why I began to leave the empire of the Adobe Suite and started trying out really new softwares.

The first software I wanted to try out was Sketch, they define themselves as a: “Professional digital design for Mac that gives you the power, flexibility and speed you’ve always wanted in a lightweight and easy-to-use package”. So I started testing it, in comparison with Photoshop and I found myself with a cleaner and friendlier interface, which gave me the comfort and speed i didn’t have before when designing. Some of the reasons why Sketch has added speed to my workflow are:

  • Smart guides and grids: If you suffer from the pixel-perfect syndrome, you will love how everything fits perfectly and creating grids for different devices is done automatically and very easily.
  • Symbols is a feature in Sketch that allows you to reuse elements easily across Artboards and Pages. This means that if you make a small change you won’t need to go over the whole document to modify the rest of the copies.
  • Mirror allows you to preview your designs in real-time so you can get rid of doubts about colors and font sizes in different devices, and you can also use it to share your artboard easily with your workmates.

There are other advantages: shortcuts, plugins, economic license, efficient technical support, Json open file format and other advantages (these descriptions will be discussed on another post).

Something I’d like to add is that although there are some tools to edit images in Sketch — which can be used for wireframing -, I recommend that we do not forget our beloved friend Photoshop, because in this area, it has an advantage over any other software.

After feeling pleased with the new tool I added to my workflow, I decided to research and learn Principle, an animation and prototyping tool that had become very popular in the last year . The introduction i found in their website: “Principle makes it easy to design animated and interactive user interfaces. Whether you’re designing the flow of a multi-screen app, or new interactions and animations, Principle lets you create designs that look and feel amazing”.

When I first opened Principle, i found myself really lost, the only animation tool I knew by then was After Effect and the logic of using Principle is really different. But after watching some tutorials and getting engaged on the Principle’s community, I found myself using the software perfectly and what really surprised me was the ease of learning.

I am not going to write a tutorial on how to use Principle but I will tell you why or when it should be used. This is seamlessly integrated with Sketch and with just one button you will have all your artboards ready to be animated and to make them move! This puts us one step forward in several aspects when selling a product, it isn’t the same to show the client a static images than animations with the interaction of the product designed. It also helps our developers’ team to see what we really have inside our heads and how each element interacts with others.

I’m not reinventing the wheel, I’m just talking about animation. But where Principle makes the difference is with the speed you’ll finish your prototypes ready to present at any daily meeting.

Nowadays there are many prototyping tools, some of them focused on animation, such as Principle or Flinto, and others on the interaction between the user and the prototype, such as Origami or Framer. And other programs that I’m not even mentioning, but at the moment of creating a new concept of animation (Such as a status change of a button or a new loader for your application), the software to be used should still be After Effect.

The last tool i’ve added to my workflow and has given me a great advantage when sending my designs and communicating with the developers in my team is Invision Inspect. With Craft installed, one of the most used plugin for Sketch, you just need to press one button and all your artboard will be sync in your Invisions account ready to be shared with your Devs, enabling them to inspect colors, typographies, elements sizes, Css styles and assets ready to be downloaded. Being online, it is not mandatory to have a Mac to view the file.

After all, tools are just tools. Creativity, correct handling of fonts, the choice of a suitable aesthetic and all the knowledge the designers have acquired through study/practice are not included in all the software mentioned above but … We can’t deny these help ourselves to be professional and up-to-date.