A solid user experience (UX) is the backbone of any well-developed software. Aesthetic appeal captivates a user, and captivating your audience is a cornerstone to retention. Aside from being visually attractive, UX needs to be customer-friendly, intuitive, and foolproof.
The further you stray from a pretty, well thought out design, the less likely a user will continue use of your product. More importantly, it’s even less likely you’ll garner new clients with negative word-of-mouth feedback.
This a well-known concept in UX designing. To quickly and efficiently produce a user-experience-centric product, there’s an excess of UX tools at a developer’s disposal. These are the tools that every designer and programmer should be familiar with.
That’s not an obnoxious smiley after “Adobe,” it stands for “Experience Design.” Whether you’re a fan of Adobe or not, this software tool is, without a doubt, widely accepted as the best. If you can afford it, and you’re an aspiring designer, the investment is worth it.
Adobe XD is a vector-based editor that simulates web and phone layouts. It offers a prototype of your application or website to click through. This is without having to code anything.
Having something of this value is indispensable. Creating a mock-up is one of the single most aspects of user-experience design. You should never delve head-first into creating software without having a roadmap.
Free UX Tools: Figma
As an alternative to its expensive sibling, Adobe XD, Figma offers a free-to-use experience. This has the advantage of being able to play around with the software and get a feel for it. Testing out software can be expensive if you’re looking for the right tool.
Figma also offers a handy teamwork experience. It’s similar to how Google Docs works. This creates a very friendly workflow among designers, especially when it’s a large team.
Its team features are its crowning feature. So, if you’re planning on cooperating with a group, Figma might be your best altogether.
Like Figma and Adobe XD, this tool offers prototyping.
We chose this as one of our favorites because of its ease-of-use. Right out of the gate, the software is rather friendly – even for beginners.
The platform offers a quality feedback system, too, which is important for new designers. Getting opinions and criticism from like-minded designers can accelerate learning. The worst thing a new designer can do is shield themselves from outside opinions; doing something incorrectly can install bad practices.
Prefab, License-Free Assets
A lot of amateur designers don’t have the same tools or teams necessary to produce competing designs. But, fear not, there are license-free catalogs to choose from.
Typography has such a huge impact on user-experience. So much can be said with just how the designer displays the words. Google Fonts offers a tremendous amount of free resource fonts.
Select a style that fits your theme. More importantly, don’t deviate from it by using too many different font packages.
Vectors have burst into popularity recently. Particularly after Google has taken to adding them to most of their designs. There are a few sites to choose from, but Undraw.co has an endless supply of open-source SVG files.
If you’re building a website or application for customers, check out decibel.com.
Visual Studio (VS) Code
Nowadays, a designer has a lot on their plate. They’re typically responsible for making the user-facing software beautiful and wiring up the backend. These are called full-stack developers, and a lot of them use VS Code.
This tool is completely free for use – unlike many of its counterparts.
What sets VS Code ahead of the rest, aside from the price, is its library of plugins. Because of its accessibility, the community has amassed a tremendous amount of add-ons. These addons range from good to life-changing.
The first plugin you should download is one that alters the IDE’s appearance to your liking. If you’re going to be staring at it all day, you might as well enjoy what you’re seeing. There’s a large selection of theme packs to choose from, but we suggest something with a darker tint for an easier experience on your eyes.
Web developers have live-preview plugins available to them. Instead of continually refreshing a webpage to see their changes, the add-on will automatically push the changes.
VS Code also offers support for just about any programming language and syntactical error-tracing. Just save the file with the proper extension, and you’re off to the races.
Illustrator and Photoshop
Two more Adobe products, but they need mentioning if you’re interested in UX design. They’re priced professionally, so if you’re just starting, you may want to look elsewhere.
Illustrator and Photoshop are powerhouses in design. They offer unmatched layering and development spaces to make perfect designs.
They both function similarly, with one being used for photo editing and the other pure design. Once you’ve mastered an Adobe product, the skill is almost always easily transferable to the next rendition.
Both tools have a wide assortment of learning resources available. Just about anything imaginable can be found in an online demonstration, tutorial, or Adobe’s documentation. If you can’t figure something out on your own, find an answer online.
This tool has a unique feature. It’s a developmental environment wrapped entirely in your browser.
The power available to CodePen isn’t all that limited, so producing on this platform isn’t handicapped in any way.
CodePen is an exceptional tool for learning web design. Their community is massively supportive of newcomers, and the code that you write with this tool is viewable to anyone with a link. This is a huge benefit for teachers and students.
Its ingenuity lies in its portability. As long as you’ve saved the content to your profile, it can be edited on any one of your devices – mobile or otherwise.
The Perfect Design
UX tools have come a long way. They offer endless support for designers.
There are a few notable prototyping platforms, mainly Adobe XD, Figma, and InVision Studio. These are great for fledging out a working model of your app or site.
Prefabricated assets are great for designers on a budget, along with VS Code. If you’re learning design and coding, CodePen is a valuable asset.
Want to keep on designing and creating? Check out our other articles on designing the perfect user-experience.