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12 February 2016  /  
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Design Tools to Watch for in 2016

As the demand for streamlined digital experiences increases, so too does the need for improved creative tools.

Enhanced workflow means designers and developers can get better sites, with maximised UI/UX, onto the web with greater speed. At Netable, we stay on the cutting edge of UI/UX and that means being on top of the latest software. From mock ups to finished art, the right programs have a measurable impact on workflow.

With January behind us, we’re looking ahead at tools that might be of interest to our profession when they are released in 2016. Of course we must test them before making a judgement on their viability, but that’s always an interesting part of the process!

Adobe Comet: Built for Speed

The evolution of the web has seen digital experiences become increasingly refined, first in the way they look and, beyond that, in the way they feel and function. Experience Design is not new, but awareness of the discipline has increased – especially so for designers and developers of modern websites.

For some, tools outside of the Adobe sphere such as Balsamiq Mockups and Bohemian Coding Sketch began to outshine the old standbys by offering UX-specific takes on productivity.

Balsamiq Mockups is used for wire framing, and is designed with usability and collaboration in mind. It allows designers to quickly create prototypes, simulating the flow of a responsive site or app. It’s widely used and fairly accessible.

Bohemian Coding Sketch is a UI design tool with a companion app that allows you to preview your design on small screens as you work. It takes a simple approach to creating vector art, mostly putting Bezier curves aside in favour of Boolean operations on shapes.

It was only a matter of time before Adobe responded. Enter Comet, the software giant’s answer to these types of apps. A product they hope will become integral to the UX/UI design process.

As a product designer I need a tool that’s fast and accurate, and helps me solve the modern design challenges of motion and interaction…

 

I need to design for many devices and screen sizes and I want to be able to see my designs on those devices in real-time.

 

Talin Wadsworth – Project Comet Lead Designer

Built from the ground up in order to offer speed and maximum scalability, Adobe Comet promises to speed up workflow and get UX/UI designers through iterations quickly and fluidly.

Here are some of the features:

  • Dual function tool for design and interactive prototyping.
  • Repeat grid feature: select any group of objects on a canvas and repeat them endlessly.
  • Dynamic control of layout and padding directly on the canvas.
  • Drag and drop objects onto grid and have them populate design instantly.
  • Connect content in prototype mode to show flow, then make tweaks in animation and timing.
  • Animations show up when you preview on the comet mobile/tablet app.

Comet’s companion apps should let you to preview your design on multiple devices with ease, allowing responsive content to be designed and tested quickly. Easy integration of Photoshop and Illustrator files means standard asset creation tools remain a crucial component of workflow.

Craft: Data Driven Design

Another interesting tool we’ve seen recently is Craft by InVision. Craft is a plugin for Photoshop and Sketch that offers a number of interesting features, most notably their push to “design with data in mind”.

Craft allows you to ditch Lorem Ipsum text in favour of actual copy it pulls from your own files, databases, or even the web. This allows you to design with relevant content in place instead of dummy text. It does the same for photos, populating galleries and relevant content areas with ease.

Finally, craft has a duplicate feature with which to clone content en masse. This eliminates the need to manually position objects, resulting in clean content population quickly and easily.

We look forward to testing both pieces of software to see if they offer increased efficacy to the design and dev process. While new tools can provide great benefit, the usability and functionality must be present in order to be worth taking the time to integrate them into your workflow.