They say a bad workman always blames his tools, but upgrading the workshop will also lead to better innovation. While design methods have largely stayed similar over the years, our design tools keep changing and evolving. Balancing the evaluation of new tools and experimentation while also remaining conscious of the disruption that imposing them too often and soon on your teammates can be a challenging path. Still, I try to approach tooling like any other design problem and always leave some time exploring new opportunities.
Years ago, I was at peak designer, sketching away in my Moleskin with a fountain pen. These days, I've ditched the paper and whiteboards for an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. When I'm in remote meetings, I can simply broadcast to Zoom or AirPlay and sketch away, without colleagues struggling to see what I'm writing on a whiteboard or wall. When I'm done, I save a high resolution version and upload it to Slack or anywhere else; a readily-accessible reference for further conversation.
After ditching Sketch and Abstract, I moved our team over to Figma and haven't looked back. I've mapped hundreds of hours in Figma and its collaborative capabilities are superpowers for product design. I'll frequently shoot a link out to another team member without the hassle of downloading another app or having to be on a Mac. Beyond that, the component system and plugin features can't be matched.
I've had conversations with folks in cabs while they watch me move things around on their phone.
Truly, I don't know if I could ever go back to anything else. It's that good.
On a regular basis, I use a variety of tools to get a job done, including:
Design isn't about tools - it's about communicating intention.
However, I still really love trying new things out. 😎