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  • Kaity Meade

UX Design Tools for Beginners

If you're starting your design journey, you're probably feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. With the amount of new information thrown at student designers, it's easy to feel so overloaded with content that you're not even sure where to start.

When I first started my design journey, the thing that overwhelmed me the most was figuring out what software I needed to master to be taken seriously by employers and hiring managers. I felt like I needed to have some kind of familiarity with everything, or else I would fall behind my fellow design students.

What started to trip me up was the number of different tools out there that were specific for certain methodologies in the design process. Need to conduct a usability test? There's software for that. Need to create a user flow? You can find a program for that too. Need to create an interaction for your prototype? You guessed it - there's software for that.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to enroll in a design program that introduces its students to these different programs. I wanted to share a quick list of my favorite design programs for those who didn't have the resource that I have with my design program.

Keep in mind - this is coming from the perspective of a student who has primarily done solo work, so I'm sure there are many more tools that are better suited for cross-functional team collaboration.

 

1. Miro

Miro is an amazing tool because it provides so many different templates for many processes in the research and design phases. From customer journey maps, user flows, jobs to be done, and site maps (just to name a few), you can keep all of your research and ideations in a single program! If you are working with a team, Miro templates can be shared across team members, which makes it a great program to brainstorm or conduct design sprints.

2. Usability Hub

There are many different sites you can use for usability testing, but the tool I prefer is Usability Hub. This is an easy-to-use and easy-to-analyze program that allows you to get insights into your design from real users. I have used this tool for preference testing, but you can also conduct surveys, first click tests, and 5 second testing on the site.

3. Notion

Okay, Notion is awesome for so many reasons, but I have found it especially helpful when it comes to creating a design strategy and documenting every part of your process. I start every project by creating a tailored design strategy in Notion and continue to document each intention, methodology, success, and failure that I come across during the project. Their different templates, such as kanban board, calendar, timeline, and embedded sub-pages make it so easy to keep everything organized on a single page.

4. Sketch & Figma

I'm putting these two together because there are so many similarities between the two. I started my design journey with Sketch and have been pretty loyal to the program ever since. I have dabbled with Figma and know that it is becoming an industry standard. I found Figma very easy to catch on to because I had such a strong knowledge of Sketch. Youtube videos are a great way to learn the software and continue to practice your design skills.


5. Invision

A big reason I use Sketch so often is partly due to the simplicity of exporting your Sketch files to create an interactive prototype in Invision. Invision has become my go-to for prototype creation and is so easy to learn.


I'm still very fresh into my UI design journey but have enjoyed creating visuals in Sketch and animations in Flinto. If there are any passionate UI designers out there who have tools to recommend to a UI student, I would love to hear why you prefer them!

 

The truth is, the best way to learn different software and tools is to start using them! Stay dedicated to your come-up and practice utilizing them as much as possible. Watch Youtube tutorial videos and start your own projects to practice using different tools.


If you have questions about any programs I mentioned here or would like to share your software of choice, hit me up!

- Kaity



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