The official 2017 last-minute Pixo UX & design gift guide

From essential software to cozy foot bags, this guide’s got it all.

HERE WE ARE! Your Christmas-Carol-style ghosts through this wild gift ride. (L-R, in back: Julia, Tyler, Matt / In front: Allie, Mel, Lindsey)

Let’s see… our staff gift exchange is tomorrow. The paper chain counting the days until holiday break is getting shorter every day. The “Merry Pixmas” collaborative Spotify playlist (all 40 hours of it) is getting lots of virtual spins.

It’s beginning to look a lot like mid-December.

Panicking about what to get your designer pals? Stressing over what to get your UX-obsessed colleagues? Sweat no more. Pour yourself an egg nog and take a scroll through this gift guide for the designers in your life. Or a gift guide by the designers at Pixo. Why not both?

Tyler Edwards (graphic designer) recommends…

Image from zeplin.io

Zeplin (price varies)

As visual designers learning how to better deliver assets and specs to our developers, this companion service to Sketch has revolutionized the process. It once took weeks to compile and hand off every piece of a composition, and now it takes a matter of seconds. If you are a Sketch user and have not yet been introduced to Zeplin, I am sad for you.

Sketch Mirror, iOS app (free)

Project your sketch artboards to any iOS device and see live updates as you design. Incredibly useful for quickly testing responsive web layouts and mobile app UI.

Design Systems by Vitaly Friedman ($21)

Perhaps the best book currently available on developing effective and adaptive design systems. Particularly geared-towards small and medium-sized product teams like our own.

Lindsey Gates-Markel (content strategist) recommends…

Image from thegamecrafter.com

The Content Modeling game ($8)

Jeff Eaton made a card game. The thumbnail images alone are enough to send me into hysterics/therapy.

Content Design by Sarah Richards ($21)

A book that practices what it preaches — give the people what they need to know, be direct about it, and don’t waste their time. No-nonsense and reassuring and funny.

PaperMate Flair pens ($6 for 12)

Nice clear lines, good ink saturation, won’t bleed through paper (even in Moleskines). The best pens. Don’t @ me.

Baron Fig Confidant hardcover notebook ($22)

I bought this notebook because it came in a box, like an iPad. As soon as I got it home and looked at the box, I thought: huh, I’m a sucker. But the notebook is great! It’s hardcover and lies flat when open and I love the dot grid paper. It takes itself way too seriously (pardon the marketing), but I’ll vouch for the quality.

Mel Miller (director of research and UX) recommends…

Image from uistencils.com

UX Index Cards ($9)

While I salivate after almost everything product that UI Stencils sells, I find these UX Index Cards really useful. It’s easy to carry a few in a bag and sketch out something when it crosses my mind. And the size is perfect for thinking about actual phone size when imagining a screen and its content.

Uni-ball Signo DX UM-151 Gel Ink Pen — 0.38 mm — Black ($4 for 2)

It’s a gel pen with the smoothest feel I’ve come across. True, this is just my latest pen obsession, but after a few months, I’m loving it. Also, it comes in a ton of colors (though, black is my standby).

Drafting Dots ($8)

Who wants to wrestle with ripping up pieces of masking tape? You don’t have to! These drafting dots are a great little time saver. They are sticky enough to hold a piece of paper on the wall or whiteboard, but not so tacky that they leave a mark. A great UX stocking stuffer!

Lego Architecture Studio ($160)

Why limit yourself to designing digital interfaces? The sky is the limit with the Lego Architecture Studio. Get away from your screen and get into the zone with this all-white brick set that lets your mind wander and stretches your imagination.

Allie Ofisher (UX designer) recommends…

Image from thedesignmethod.com

The Design Method by Eric Karjaluoto ($21)

My absolute favorite design process book. Includes a ton of concrete examples for researching UI design.

Realtime Board Premium ($10/mo.)

This digital whiteboard is a game changer. Not only for brainstorming, designing, and collaborating at Pixo — I’ve also found great uses for it outside of work! The possibilities are endless.

Blomus notepaper roll holder ($25)

While I LOVE Post-Its for quick notes and to-dos, there’s something really simple and relaxing about using a roll of paper to jot down your daily tasks and goals. Even better, when you’re done, you rip it right off! I’ve had this on my desk for a year now and use it each day to plan what I need to get done. I love it.

Baffin foot bags ($25)

Yes. These are sleeping bags for your feet. Do you need more convincing?

Julia Pollack (UX designer) recommends…

Image from amazon.com

Dry erase index cards ($10 for 96)

Great for prototyping, or just making adorable small erasable lists.

Muji gel-ink ballpoint pen ($12 for 12)

Every designer in your life secretly wants a brand new box of pens. Not only do they write like a dream, but they look real slick in a glass jar on your desk.

Post-it Notes Super Sticky Pads in Miami ($7 for 8 pads)

Bienvenidos a Miami! The Miami collection is the way to go at Pixo — no Post-it is too dark to reveal the great idea waiting to be discovered in a brainstorm.

Matt Sharkey (graphic designer) recommends…

Image from fieldnotesbrand.com

Field Notes “Dime Novel” edition ($13 for 2)

Over the last 10 years, Field Notes has created a bewildering variety of riffs on the same simple notebook, but some variants stray farther than others. Their “Dime Novel” edition pretends to be a 19th-century mass-market paperback, complete with page numbers and a back cover dense with “overheated advertising copy.” And like all civilized notebooks, it’s unruled.

Cafe Pixo

Development and design of custom software, websites, apps, and systems in beautiful Urbana, IL.

Lindsey Gates-Markel

Written by

Lead content strategist at Pixo and lifelong Midwestern ham.

Cafe  Pixo

Cafe Pixo

Development and design of custom software, websites, apps, and systems in beautiful Urbana, IL.

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