January 26, 2018

Digital Design Tools & Research

There are many things to consider when working on a new design, so it can seem pretty overwhelming at times. And, as easy as it would be to just go with whatever idea sounds the most fun, good designers know they need to base their ideas on more than just hunches. That’s where research, data, and awesome digital design tools come in…and believe us when we say, they come in many forms!

Overhead view of a MacBook showing a scenic city by the waterside next to the physical image of the same image laying on a table beside it

Still, at the end of the day, all these various research methods and data sources and digital design tools are necessary for actualizing a client’s goals. That’s why this week, Ben and Maggie were more than ready to discuss some of their favorite digital design tools, while Ca and Lindsey shared their thoughts on the more research-oriented aspects of design. The result is one of the most eclectic-yet-informative Top 5 Fridays collections yet!

1. My favorite usability testing question
“We have learned a lot about forming the right test questions for each client and project for getting the right feedback we want, without leading our users on. It’s very important to avoid those bait questions and let users make decisions themselves. Of course, trial and error have played a part in mastering this, but we also like to read up on what the UX experts are saying too. I thought this was interesting and something worth bringing up to the team.”
-Ca Nguyen, UX Designer

2. Sketch Runner
“I’m really digging this so far, so I was excited to share it with the developers and designers alike. We’re always looking for new digital design tools to streamline the collaborative process between us and the developers, and this was a very worthwhile find.”
-Ben Stone, Digital Designer

3. AspectRat.io – Aspect ratio calculator and device resolutions reference for designers/developers
“This is seriously the most convenient thing ever, and every designer needs to know about it ASAP. I forgot how I actually stumbled onto this, but I’m glad I did because it’s something I use for so many projects now. It’s so simple yet so helpful – all you do is enter your dimensions manually or select your device type and screen size to get an instant and accurate idea of the realistic ratio aspects. Awesome.”
-Maggie O’Connor, Digital Designer

4. A Lightweight Branding Exercise for Startup
“This really delivers on the promise made by the title. It gives a comprehensive overview that I think gets to the heart of what really goes into making a brand, and it does a great job talking about how design and a variety of other factors work in sync to achieve that.”
-Lindsey Maymon, Designer

5. F-Shaped Pattern of Reading on the Web: Misunderstood, But Still Relevant (Even on Mobile)
“I always find research like this fascinating and very much worth sharing. This 2017 article discusses the effects of the ‘F-shaped reading pattern’  – that is, the unwanted tendency of many users to scan websites in a pattern similar to the letter F. It’s a weird little fact of life that probably no one would ever even consider, but it’s vitally important for designers to take into account. I also found it intriguing that this article is actually the follow-up to an older one that came out in 2006, so it’s pretty interesting to see an update on these concepts over a decade later. Also, for the record: F-shaped scanning is bad.”
-Ben Stone, Digital Designer