A UX Designer's Thoughts On Process And Tools For The New Year

Marcus Romero
Marcus RomeroAssociate Creative Director

It’s 2016, a new year — new opportunities and a chance to reflect on our successes of the previous year. Brought to mind during these moments we spend in observance of the passage of time are the tools and processes in which I spend the majority of mine.

2015 was a year of great progress for TXC. All of it for the better. In an effort to continue to embrace change that has served us so well, what follows is a set of considerations for the designer in the New Year.

1) Make Adoption Routine

Process should be plastic. In 2015, we changed several of our office-wide platforms and it was fantastic. Darwin missed the mark when he coined “The Survival of the Fittest”, it is more appropriately “The Survival of the Most Adaptable” — and I have a great enthusiasm for change. Let’s face it, in a competitive business environment being a laggard is a dangerous position to take. Being on the leading edge of the diffusion of innovation puts one in a position of opinion leadership within your industry.

Beginning at onboarding we should make adoption a part of the way any agency works. Comparative pilot sessions of new technology will allow agencies to choose their technology wisely but give latitude to leverage their small gambles.

2) Hello Sketch

This year I will cast off from Adobe and use Bohemian Coding’s Sketch exclusively for digital work. Sketch has been steadily gaining traction and feels very much a purpose built tool for the task. More UX designers have moved away from using Photoshop as their only tool, and an impressive number have moved to Sketch exclusively.
Fifty percent of designers are using more than one tool, while thirty-four percent of designers are only using Sketch. Adobe has pledged to add to the fray with the forthcoming Project Comet; although, I’m fearful they will miss the mark with smart this-or-thats or content-aware whositswhatsits.

3) No More Fixed Width Mocks

So, you’ve made a fully realized fixed-width design comp, how cute. Honestly, after translation by the developer, being populated with real data and succumbing to browser differences this comp is the singular place your creation will look exactly this way. Designing this way is really beginning to feel ineffectual and quite quaint. Enter Macaw. Macaw deserves a look; built for responsive design Macaw allows you to define breakpoints and adjust design fittingly — on the fly. The upcoming version ups the ante and obscures the boundary between design and development.

4) Speak The Developer's Love Language

In 2016, my goal is to help deploy an integrated design and development approach more closely resembling the agile development methodology and move our ideation and collaboration to web-based tools such as Red Pen or Invision. To accomplish this I’ve been using the CSS sandbox Codepen and an online IDE Cloud9 to communicate design and intent with our development team in a common lexicon. These tools have worked wonders so far.

5) Meetings Are Boring. Prototypes Are Cool.

Two years ago we started to use Invision to pitch and present design prototypes. Moving from PDF presentations to Invision-powered interactive prototypes increased client buy-in dramatically and reduced design revision cycles proportionately. In 2016, I will incorporate pre-presentation prototypes into my workflow to spark imagination, elevate discussion and aid in usability discovery.

Have you considered how 2016 can be the year you revolutionize your design processes to deliver solutions that amaze?