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Designing digital products: review of tools used by UX & UI designers

Designing digital products
There are so many tools available to UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) designers, it can be tricky to choose the right one when designing a digital product such as a website or an app.
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Table of Contents

If you feel a bit lost or are keen to know which of those products we recommend, do read on. We promise we will give you a good insight into the subject! 

Tools for digital products – a bit of history

It’s difficult to imagine, but the history of digital tools used for product design started in the 1960s – at the time when people didn’t even think about having computers at home! All the research was done by big companies, founded to commercialize the first CAD (Computer Aided Design) programs. 

Back then, every new development within digital design took a long time. Today, the world of digital tools changes every day, so staying on top of all news around UX & UI design is not an easy task. That’s why we want to share our knowledge and experience with you, so that you don’t feel lost when thinking about the design of your digital products. 

Let’s take a closer look at digital tools for content creation and layout design to understand differences between them and decide which are best for the work you are about to do.This knowledge will also be useful to people who are not designers but would like to know what the design process looks like.

Content creation and layout design tools

Layout design is a fundamental part of working on digital products. It allows you to design all the individual elements to form one, user friendly product that responds to your needs. Content creation tools are great when it comes to creating images and other elements that affect the appearance of the product (icons, illustrations, etc.). 

Some programs allow you to do both things. Here is an overview of the most popular and interesting solutions:

Adobe Photoshop

It’s an extremely popular tool which you can use to prepare photos, illustrations, and graphics. Some time ago, all layout design used to be done in Photoshop. Today, the program is still used by many UX designers, but its interface may seem difficult, especially for the beginners. When using Photoshop, you need to take into consideration that all layouts designed there will look differently when online. Another downside of the program is the fact that Adobe Photoshop does not facilitate teamwork and the work of developers, making it difficult to use the software in larger projects. 

Some time ago, Adobe Photoshop (and Illustrator) was the only tool used by UX and UI designers for many purposes. Today, there are some other tools that do their job much better.

Figma

Figma is a web-based graphics, icons and illustrations editing and user interface design app. It is a new generation software with features such as prototyping, which allows you to create interactive flows that simulate how a user may interact with the design. 

Figma was created in 2013 by Dylan Field, who said he wanted to “do for interface design what Google Docs did for text editing”. It works online, meaning it allows for advanced teamwork and live, real-time collaboration, making it possible to add comments, show presentations to developers and give different levels of permissions to different users. It is a browser-based tool (the first one of this kind on the market), with a very extensive ecosystem, including a large community and an interactive platform. Figma keeps developing constantly and takes its users’ demands very seriously. The software operates in the SaaS model, so to use it you need to buy a subscription. Its price depends on the features you will be using. It also offers a free version that allows you to work on smaller projects. 

Sketch

Sketch is a very user-friendly digital design tool that has been on the market for some time. In contrast to the browser based Figma, it is a desktop app, available only for Apple products. You can use it for UI, mobile, web and icon design. It is great when it comes to creating all types of illustrations. Being a desktop app, it does not allow for online teamwork, but it has an immense number of features and keeps its place among the most popular tools used by designers. 

Digital tools for UX design – conclusion  

The main differences between Adobe Photoshop and the new generation design tools lie in the process of file preparation, cooperation with developers and the possibility of group work and prototyping. 

With Adobe Photoshop, you have to prepare layouts in a “static” way and export various elements to embed them on a website. Both Figma and Sketch work differently: they allow the creation of comprehensive projects from scratch. Using them, developers can enter their project files in two ways:

  • directly to the program where the project is created (Figma),
  • to the program that transfers the whole project (InVision, Zeplin).

In the second option, files from the program in which the project is created are “uploaded” to the above-mentioned programs. In both options, the developer can check sizes, colors, fonts, icons and photos without creating any documentation. This is a significant improvement in the flow of work, allowing for quick changes within the project.

New Digital Street – digital solutions for everyone

At New Digital Street, we design and implement comprehensive digital solutions. When choosing a digital tool, we always speak to our clients first. We want to be sure the tool we decide to use will meet their expectations and will provide them with everything they need. Our approach is always practical; we focus on the final effect and quality of our solutions. 

If you are keen to know more about the tools we use when designing digital products, get in touch with us today!

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