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Tools of the Trade

Hey there design people and those of you who work in the digital space! Here is a quick list of tools of the trade that I personally like to use and that are pretty easy and cheap to come by. Nothing too fancy, just good basic tools to help you be better at what you do.

Basecamp

Project management is not an easy thing, especially with creative projects. There will always be a ton of iterations and small details to keep track of. One of my personal favorites of all the project management tools is Basecamp. I know it’s nothing new, but hey it works well. Each person enters their information into a dashboard where you can see all of your projects in one place. Once you click into them you can see the various breakdowns to keep the project on target.

There is a list of to-dos to get a sense of whats going on and what is a priority. There are discussions, which function a lot like email in that you have people write their thoughts and such as well as attach visuals, that you can reference and easily search for at your convenience. You can set up a calendar for milestones related to the project. You can also easily navigate through all the files that have ever been updated in one place as well. Then there is a basic text format space for a user to keep random “notes” in. The permission settings are easy enough to set up and I find it all intuitive to use. I also dig their branding and UI, in general.

Pinterest

To keep track of ideas and things you see around the interwebs that you can later pull up for ideas and inspiration, it’s great to have a place to stash all of these “things” in one place. I prefer to use Pinterest. It’s free, and it’s easy. While Pinterest may be looked at as mostly a space for women to plan their weddings and such, don’t overlook its other useful features for digital visuals. There is a growing community of interactive designers putting up boards to keep track of great UI ideas for websites, mobile apps and even great examples of typography. Check out my Pinterest boards of that very nature. Also be sure to follow this cat, Timoa.

Keynote/PowerPoint

Sometimes you gotta explain stuff. The best way sometimes is to do it in a presentation. Also, sometimes you gotta create something that is more than just a flat comp. The power of Keynote, that sets itself apart from PowerPoint, besides being less clunky and weird to use is its ability to essentially create a clickable prototype. The one advantage that PowerPoint has when creating a standard presentation is that it is more universal. More than likely, most people across many avenues will have PowerPoint on their machines. Keynote is strictly an Apple/Mac product. In a battle where I had to choose one to use, however, Keynote gets my vote.

Sketch Book(s)

Yeah there are moleskins and many many places you can get a sketch book. The important point I am driving home is not to under estimate using your hands in the old fashioned way — with pen and paper. There is something nice about taking a break from the computer once in a while when most of our lives as digital professionals is spent on a computer. There are so many printable “templates” out there. These can be used for design as well as UXin’. Sketching out flows is probably one of the best ways to begin a project, in my opinion. Check out Dotted Paper. Then also be sure to bookmark this post by Speakboy for various templates.

What are some of your favorite tools of the trade that you like to use for work?

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