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The Best UX Design Tools Of 2022 — Tips From MING Designers

It’s always good to stay on top of trends and use the right tools for the job. In this article, we’ll share some of the tools our UX designers are currently using, where to find inspiration, and how to save time (and your sanity).

by Agnieszka Mika, Digital Marketing Analyst, and Kristina Würz, Copywriter, at MING Labs

Image composition: MING Labs

This article is an update on the topic explored in a previous post we published in 2019. It’s been a long time. As design tools continue to evolve and Covid has affected the way we work, we thought a fresh look at these topics would be helpful and inspiring for anyone who wants to improve their own processes.

Who Did We Talk To?

Say hello to the star contributors of this article: Stas, Ken, and Leanne. Stas is a Senior UX Designer at MING. He has a multi-disciplinary background and has worked on many, many design projects globally over the past 15+ years.

Stas Leontev. Source: MING Labs

Kenneth was with us until recently. He’s a Senior UX designer with a passion for using design to make the world a better place. We saw him in action and can confirm that he does make a difference with his work.

Kenneth Tay. Source: MING Labs

Leanne joined us as a UX Designer not long ago, and though she’s currently doing her undergrad studies in Sociology, she aspires to have a career in Product Design/UX. Given her level of enthusiasm, we are sure she’ll get there soon.

Leanne Lim. Source: MING Labs

How Do UX Designers Actually Build Their Toolkits?

You’ll want to start with some basics, such as Figma and Photoshop, but your toolkit will expand naturally as you work on different kinds of projects. Here are a few examples of tools you might find helpful for the wider aspects of the job, be it project planning, feature roadmapping, or user studies. Adobe or Pinterest are massive platforms, but can also be good places to start, as they have so much content that can be useful for research. Then there are less well-known platforms like coolors.co, which can help you create a project color palette quickly and easily.

Source: Screenshot from the Coolors app

You might have noticed a trend among design tools, and we have too: Previously interface design was very much focused around Adobe Creative Suite, especially Illustrator and After Effects.

But as Ken explains: “Over the past 5–7 years, a lot of new tools like Sketch, Figma, Invision, Framer (and many others) have emerged that have really helped to optimize our workflow especially with a focus on collaborative work and developer handoff. Out of all these new tools, the ones that stick are really the ones that actively engage with the design community, listening and solving the issues and pain points that designers face in their day-to-day work.”

Can You Classify Tools By Type Of Project?

If you’re managing multiple projects and clients, it can be difficult to divvy up your creative tools. There’s no one rule for doing this, but here are some general guidelines that can help. Stas says:

“There are tools related to communication, ideation or research, and actual design. I can definitely say that proper client communication is key to a project’s success. You need to be sure that everybody is on the same page, they do have the ability to share thoughts and ideas, and are aware of the workflow.”

For communication, we like Google Meet, Calendly, and Miro. For research and brainstorming, Miro (again!), Notion, and Medium are good choices. And for deliverables, our designers love Figma. We’ll explain why in a bit.

Our Designers’ Most-Used Favorite Tools (And Why)

Although the exact toolset a designer will work with will vary depending on the preferences of your particular client and agency, there are a few classics that we can recommend.

The first thing on our list is Miro — great for brainstorming sessions, running workshops, planning projects, and engaging with clients. Think of it as a virtual whiteboard. It takes some practice using the tool, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a game-changer. You can add sticky notes, countdown timers, maps, annotations, and there are lots of integrations available. By the way, we’ve designed some handy templates for Miro, which you can find here and use for your design work in remote settings. You’re welcome.

Source: Miro template designed by MING Labs; Design Principles

Now, let’s look at the design process. Ken tells us why Figma is a winner here:

“Figma has really been a leader in devloping new features that continually make the lives of designers easier. Features like autolayout, variants, inspect, really help to save a lot of time in designing reusable components. A huge plus is that we just need to share the URL with the client or our dev team and they can view it on whatever operating system they are on, view the redlines (measurements) and add comments.”

Now you might ask, “Fine. But what about other great tools out there, like Sketch, Framer, and InVision?“ Yup, it’s definitely good to know them. But we’ve noticed that you can go through the entire design process with just one tool — and you don’t even have to install any software. That’s a massive plus. Here’s how Ken sums it up:

“Previously I’d have to design in Sketch, upload the prototype to InVision, export the tech details to Zeplin, export PDFs for the business, and create animations in Framer or Principle. Now I can do all of that in Figma.”

Interactive design prototype of a website built in Figma. Source: MING Labs, ADB case study

Our designers’ list of favorite tools doesn’t end here, though. 🤓 Notion and FigJam are awesome too. If you’re looking for inspiration or want to practice your design skills, head over to Dribbble. Leanne says:

“Dribbble is an incredible design resource. They publish articles on everything from portfolio tips to getting through interviews for various design positions.”

Similarly, we’re huge fans of Medium (ha!). It’s a great place to find case study articles, prep for interviews, and learn about design practices. If you’re still hungry for more (we totally get you that you are): YouTube is an awesome resource for finding design inspiration or just watching something ridiculous to take a break from all the reading.

Bonus: More Tools, Features & Life Tips

Stas shared some of his favorite code-free tools, and number one on his list is Tilda, which allows you to launch a project online the same day. Another one is LiveSurfase for “doing mockups quickly and easily straight from Illustrator with foil or embossing effect, so one can amaze clients with a well-done branding render.” On Stas’ list, there is also Cinima4d with Arnold render extension, which he wants to conquer one day. We bet you will, Stas!

Leanne recently discovered some lesser-known yet helpful Figma shortcuts. Designers are always looking for ways to work more efficiently, and adding a few easy-to-remember shortcuts to your repertoire can go a long way. Following other designers can also help improve your skills: “For ideas and inspiration, I follow UX/UI accounts like @uxcel.app, @ui_gradients, and other independent designers on social media for best practices.”

And here’s some final advice from Ken for all you other designers out there: The design world is changing all the time — keep up by cultivating a growth mindset. Tools these days are regularly updated so it’s really important for us designers to stay connected to learning from the community and upskill ourselves on a regular basis, even if it means needing to learn a new tool and moving away from the way we are used to working.”

Summary

That’s it for our UX designers’ tips. Before you go, here is a recap of this article:

  • Building a personal library of design tools takes time; start with a handful of basic, universal tools and add new ones as you tackle more projects
  • There is a vast number of tools out there, each designed for a different purpose. It’s helpful to think about them as falling into three categories, according to the design process parts: communication, ideation or research, and actual design
  • Figma has become the go-to tool for design deliverables, as it enables teams to collaborate on the whole design process in just one tool
  • Good communication is essential to the success of any project, and the right tools can help teams communicate effectively across distances
  • Communication and data storage tools our designers love most: Miro, Notion, Calendly, Slack, and Google Meet
  • Being a good designer isn’t just about tools and skills, but also the willingness to keep learning and growing 🌱

MING Labs is a leading digital business builder located in Berlin, Munich, New York City, Shanghai, Suzhou, and Singapore. We guide clients in designing their businesses for the future, ensuring they are leaders in the field of innovation.

Liked this story, and curious to know more? Check our latest updates on LinkedIn or drop us a note at hello@minglabs.com.

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