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10 Tools & Apps That Made Me A Better Designer In 2017

Dec 27, 2017 Tools, Productivity, Design, Work

2017 was a profound year for me as a designer. Amongst many things that propelled me to becoming a better designer were some tools and apps.

We’ve never seen a year in which Design grew so much more in relevance than in 2017. It has been the year Design finally found its voice in boardrooms. The year the role of Designers intersected with that of the leaders.

We saw a rise in demand for Design, an outpouring of Design knowledge, and a myriad of tools, apps, and frameworks that got us all distracted. Pun intended.

There’s never been a fascinating year for me as a Designer than in 2017. Here are 10 apps and tools that kept me productive, informed, creative and impactful in 2017.

1. Dropbox Paper

2017 was a year of teams. Collaboration has never been so relevant to creating than in these exciting times.

From sharing ideas to writing proposals and design specs to mapping out project milestones, deliverables and giving feedback, Dropbox Paper helped me in reducing clutter.

Dropbox Paper is a contender for Product of the Year if I were to give awards.

2. Sketch

I sketch before I use Sketch. So paper” and pen” would share some part of the spoil with the queen, Sketch. Barely did a day pass in 2017 that I never had to come before her. It relegated my ex Photoshop and is giving Illustrator a run for her beauty. And I now I realize Keynote wear butt pads.

With Sketch’s numerous gigolos we refer to as plugins, I’m sure so many of us Designers can’t wait for January to find out if Invision Studio will be the faithful one.

For now, I’m loyal to the queen, and long may she live.

3. Milanote

There’s never been a year Design and Research walked hand in hand than in 2017.

Research is messy and nonlinear, and Milanote does a great job of helping me organize my findings better. The ability to create digital post-its, great visual hierarchy and ease of use makes Milanote my number 1 note-taking app. Great, great tool!

4. Spotify

Yes, Spotify.

Not only does it aid my productivity, but the Product itself is also an example of fantastic product design.

In 2017, rarely did I do anything without hearing some creative sound — music! Listening to music serves as an on-the-go inspiration for me when working.

Here’s a playlist of songs from Artistes I love listening to when designing. I curated it for you. Enjoy!

5. Medium

We are witnessing a time of widespread knowledge sharing that is leading to unprecedented advancement in technology and civilization.

It has never been more evident than in 2017 that what makes the difference between 2 persons is information. Not race. Not color.

Medium has been one of my major sources of knowledge. I probably would not have known a lot that I know today without it.

Contender for the product of the year.

6. Grammerly

2017 affirms that sharing our ideas, knowledge, experiences and also our resources will be of greater good to our world.

In trying to share, I wrote more in 2017, and Grammarly was the perfect tool to open when I’m in the moment. Great at proofreading and editing, simple to use and convenient. Not to mention, it gave me more confidence when writing.

7. Trello

At a time when I was down, helpless on my journey to an organized and more productive life, Trello was the Samaritan that picked me up when every other tool only added to my pain. I figured out that outlining weekly tasks broken into daily-actionable tasks was the best way I could stay productive.

With smart integration with Slack and useful features, the Kanban-style tool is my Productivity tool of the year.

8. Invision

I designed more digital experiences in 2017 than any other year. One thing was clear:

Prototype or fail!

Invision continues to innovate in making the design process seamless, fast, transparent and collaborative.

With Invision, we would share the idea of an experience with stakeholders and test with users before production code was written. It exposed design flaws that informed final iterations that went on to perform as expected.

Not to mention plugins like Craft, Invision continues to augment Sketch effectively.

With the impending release of one of the most anticipated design tools of all time, again, I can’t wait to look at the dark beast — Invision Studio straight in the eye come January.

9. Google Calendar

For design reasons, in 2017, the demand for my expertise skyrocketed. From meeting Founders and CEOs I never imagined I would have had the opportunity to meet, to a continuous flux of clients, Google Calendar was all I needed to step over mines along the tracks to appointments and meetings.

Simple to use, and does the work. nothing more, nothing less.

10. Twitter

2017 was the year Twitter made a major Design update for ages, and I love it! I’ve found myself addicted to this thing. The reason because it keeps me informed on what’s going on within communities, and the world at large.

Twitter is a place people who don’t even have an idea of how creative they are subconsciously creating and expressing within the limits of 140 characters. Oh, it’s 280 now.

Twitter for me is for sharing, for learning, for leisure and a place for inspiration.

Worth mentioning

Conclusion

Staying sane in an era where tools and apps are constantly running down the batteries of our decision making is hard. I found these few useful in 2017, and I think sharing this would help someone find a tool they need.

Compliments of the season. 🎉🎄

Catch me on Twitter.

Up next The Role of a Designer in Early-Stage Startups On Taking a Break. 6 most important lessons I’ve learned, and what’s next.
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