4 great applications for today’s Website/UI & Brand creatives
A brief look at great applications for creatives worldwide.
Here’s a little rundown of applications for creatives involved in Web/UI Design, Branding, Logo Design, Illustration and Print Works.
I thought I’d put a little something together for creatives alike. I’ve based this on my experience as a Web & Brand Creative. When I started out I found out things along the way and learnt some applications were easier to use than others. Below is my thoughts and a brief rundown of applications that I believe are great to use, this also includes business and communication applications.
Branding, Illustration & Print Works
My Pick: Adobe Illustrator
When it comes to branding, I personally always found Adobe Illustrator (AI) the best option. That’s why it makes this list. Adobe Illustrator is a free-form vector based application which allows the user to manipulate anchor points to create logos, illustrations, type and much more. For me, it is the go-to for branding. Everything is laid out great for a logo/brand designer.
I also love to illustrate and in AI I find it superb to access the correct tools I need for the job in hand. The free transform of the pen tool really helps when illustrating or crafting logos.
AI is also incredible for print works. There are alternatives such as Adobe InDesign. However, I personally think AI is a lot easier and more efficient to use. With multiple art board capabilities and a great PDF editor in-built, AI can cater to your print needs. I have created many brochures, books, postcards and stationary in AI over the years and it has never steered me wrong.
Adobe Illustrator is £20.22 ($26.33) p/month on an annual plan paid monthly. It is one of the more expensive tools to use, however, with its multiple capabilities, ease of use and smoothness, I think it’s worth every penny and will definitely help you out as a brand/logo creative or illustrator.
Adobe InDesign: This is the same price as AI, but is heavily focused on layouts/magazine/publication designs.
Affinity Designer: I have no experience of this personally, but I have heard good reviews. This costs a payment of £48.99 ($63.79) with no subscription for the application with 2 years worth of free upgrades. It has been stated it could be a true rival for AI. I’d love to hear peoples thoughts here?
Website & UI/UX Design
My Pick: Sketch App
For many years (almost 10 years) I had been using Adobe Photoshop for Web Design. However, I found it starting to get more and more “laggy” as they kept adding all sorts of new tweaks and tools here and there. So I did my research and decided to have a go with the Sketch App made by Bohemian.
Sketch App is great, it is a vector-based programme dedicated to Web and UI/UX design. Everything is laid out perfectly and easy to understand. There’s so many possibilities in the app; multiple art board capabilities (without lag or crashing), amazing developer-designer link up possibilities, plug in options, allowing developers to introduce their plug ins and awesome tool ideas, exporting, prototyping, excellent variable opportunities for UI design….the list is endless. The best part is, it is all smooth transitioning and smooth to use for the creative/developer in question. Sketch truly does make a creative’s life more efficient and more creative.
I have written about this in more detail on one of my previous posts: Sketch — An alternative to Photoshop for starter creatives?
The cost of Sketch App is a one-off payment of £74.88 ($99). This gives you the app in full AND free updates for 12 months. After that, updates will be paid for on a plan, but you will always have the app at its current version before you run out of updates….so if you’re happy with your current version then….no more costs for you! Also a clear point to note….you can add a user to Sketch for a one-off cost of £33.65 ($44.50), something Adobe cannot compete with.
Adobe Photoshop (PS): For the best part of 30 years PS has been the leading application for photography manipulation and website design. However, due to it’s want for adding new tools and features and straying from its origin of photo manipulation, PS tends to be tricky and “laggy” to navigate at the best of times. PS is part of the Photography plan by Adobe and costs £10.10 ($13.15) p/month on an annual plan paid monthly. This includes Adobe Lightroom (which is great for photography) and Photoshop. However, after a year this ends and you no longer have use, unlike the Sketch application.
My Pick: Slack
Slack is a great application for Windows and MAC and is a great tool for communication. Slack was released in 2013 and already taken the world by storm. With Slack, the user has the capabilities of communicating with other users, so fluidly and frequently without lag in between notifications. There are options to add multiple channels for whatever you desire with whomever you desire (for example, I have a personal channel, friends, etc. and I’m a member of The Designership channel).
I have used Slack for years and realised its full potential, I like the constant flow of communication and app design, the UX is well thought out and so simple to use and navigate. The community that uses Slack is growing by the minute with over 6 million weekly users. The ability to add and create teams on Slack is a great feature and over 60,000 teams have taken this advantage including big and small creative agencies.
Slack is FREE to users to download and is available on Windows and MAC and also has a mobile app with all the capabilities as stated above. There is an alternative pricing structure if you are a team which allows certain plug-ins and multiple users for video calls. The pricing ranges from Standard: £6.30 ($8.20) p/month p/user up to Plus: £11.70 ($14.58) p/month p/user. But of course, if you’re a single user its FREE! ….and it is also FREE to join multiple channels ;)
Like Slack, Skype, is available FREE for singular users. Skype is also available for Windows and MAC. However, Skype Business is available through Microsft 365 at ‘Business Essentials’ for £3.65 ($5.00) p/month p/user right up to £9.60 ($12.50) p/month p/user. This is all well and good, but it does not have the full capabilities Slack does and I personally often find mobile notifications through the mobile Skype app are slow in coming through.
My Pick: Harvest
Harvest is a great desktop and mobile application to manage your business needs such as invoicing, time tracking and expenses as well as managing projects and clients.
It is well crafted and is great and efficient usability-wise. You can add multiple clients and projects all included in the monthly price. There are alternatives, but Harvest is very reasonably priced and works great on desktop and mobile.
Harvest is FREE to start with but has limited access when it comes to adding clients and projects. The premium version allows you to add multiple projects and clients and is priced at just £9.22 ($12.00) p/month on an annual plan. I think this is excellent value for how much you will need and use the application.
FreeAgent is a great alternative and is often used by companies rather than a singular user. FreeAgent is priced at Sole Trader: £22.80 ($29.69) p/month, Partnership/LLP: £28.80 ($37.50) p/month and Limited Company: £34.80 ($45.31) p/month all on annual plans.
My thoughts and outcome
Personally, the list of programmes above has aided me along the way from full-time web designer at a design agency to full-time freelance creative. I would highly recommend them for someone either starting out or already working in the creative web and brand field.