Best Designed Apps

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I just went over the best apps for design tools, but what about the best designed apps? Let’s see what there is out there that comes out on top.

First is the Arles Festival App. Clarity is one of the essential elements of a good UI design. It should not confuse your users nor give them a hard time figuring out how to use your interface. And you can find that in this app designed especially for the Arles Festival, which has around a hundred thousand recorded visitors annually since its inception.

Next is the Eda.ua – Food Delivery iPhone App. This mobile design version for an existing website is designed by a group of designers from the Ukraine. The app has both an iOS and Android version with a very friendly UI designed especially for the food delivery business. In order to meet usability standards, the designers conducted intensive market research and took note of various offbeat ideas. Then, they created and tested an interactive prototype with over 100 wireframes to ensure that the app design meets the needs of the client’s business.

Third is the Workout Book App. Unlike other workout apps, the Workout Book easily records your workouts and lets you see all the necessary information at a glance right on the home screen. Create your own workout with just a flick of your fingers and press save. Customize, set the day, and the targeted area you want to work on. Each workout has a color tag so you can easily look over them and monitor what you have missed.

App Design

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I wonder about app design frequently because I think that one day everything will be on our phones. Since everything is becoming more and more fast-paced, I researched the best design tool apps, in case I want to follow a career path in designing them.

First, there is Evernote. Evernote is one of the all-time best apps out there for keeping organized. It works across devices – smartphone, tablet and desktop over the cloud, so once you save something you can retrieve it anywhere. And with extra add-ons like Web Clipper and Skitch you can “save” webpages to a personal file and then mark them up for reference. It is a great way to bookmark and create reading lists that you can go back to at any time. Evernote also offers a paid, premium account that offers added functionality such as shared notes and files. Evernote is available for desktops (Windows or Apple), iPad/iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

Photoshop Express sounds perfect! We can all agree that very little intense editing is being done on tablets and phones right now. But for simple touchups and edits, Adobe Photoshop Express is a great tool. For those already using Adobe products, there is a very small learning curve and it looks and works as you would expect. Simple tools are included with the download and a few more advance features are offered in-app. There are fun tools for added effects, giving you more control than Instagram and sharing is made easy too. Adobe Photoshop Express is available for iPad/iPhone and Android.

Beehance is a familiar name. I didn’t know they had an app! The Behance app allows you to have your portfolio at your fingertips. Show off your portfolio in seconds and use the app to browse for ideas. It has all of the functionality of the full website in a portable format.

And of course, how can I live without a color palette generator? The Color Schemer app is a fun little tool that lets you create color palettes or browse some of the ones created by other users. The app helps you create great RGB or HEX color pairings using photos, or with the built-in color wheel.

 

Designer Videos

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I want to keep some videos on file that I can come back to to learn how to use design tools on programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Below are a few Youtubers who have the skills!

Stephen is the creator of the Graphic Designer Tips YouTube channel, which is one of the best online resources for learning Adobe Muse, and Adobe Illustrator, as well as the overall Logo Design and Print Layout Design process. What makes Stephen’s channel unique are his series. Stephen has multiple 20 video deep playlist walking you through projects from start to finish. (https://youtu.be/KkK8_DsJEIw?list=PL9k8t41FVBP70wl9cyyYNVYOE7hLXZvaN)

Shawn Barry has created some of the most in depth and well-produced content for learning the principles of Graphic Design. Shawn is a Designer from Canada and has been an agency Creative Director and brings that experience to the table through his content. Shawn’s design lectures are a must for anyone trying to build a strong foundation of design knowledge and develop a true eye for design and visual communication. (https://youtu.be/owZvImgo57s)

Logo designer Will Paterson is a very popular and easygoing UK Design YouTube creator who primarily focuses on logo design, Brand Identity and Adobe Illustrator. Will’s videos inject a lot of humor in addition to great information that is easy to consume and understand regardless of your experience level. His personality has made him a favorite channel for many designers. (https://youtu.be/dPpZxq0fJRo)

Best Squarespace Sites

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After learning that Squarespace has a lot to offer for businesses that want to create a website, I decided to find the best examples out there of a well designed Squarespace. I have experience in this website builder because I had to do several projects in the past that required re-designing a business’s website according to design elements like contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity as well as user-friendly design. Squarespace was the best option because it has 12 templates you can choose from and design from the ground up based on that template. However, I think that a negative aspect of this builder is that if you want to change the template, your content will disappear.

According to design-milk.com, these are two of the top ten websites that people have made using squarespace:

http://www.miguelcm.com/

This website has simple designs, with flat images, which we have learned how to do in our online design class. This website’s main goal is to be a portfolio of his illustrations, or his flat design images. It’s easy to navigate his site because of the navigation bar he has as well as the key words that lead the user to where they want to go. He clearly takes advantage of squarespace’s design tools because when you create a page you select from a box of different elements you can add to the page, and it’s just one easy click. From videos, slideshows to putting a product up for sale, it’s easy to make it look like the site was designed by a professional. The next thing you need to do is decide where it goes on the page according to columns. Based on what I know about Squarespace, I can tell that this designer knew how he wanted to lay out his artwork, in such a way that it’s easy for him and for us to enjoy.

 

http://www.sam-cannon.com/

Going through all of these sites, there is a clear theme that using Squarespace for showcasing artwork is the most popular. This website is similar to the last in that she is using the space on the page to show her art. However, it is clear that the theme/template is much different because of the size of the images as well as the white space around them. Her front page is a continuous, ongoing grid switching back and forth from two to one column of her art. This is a simplistic style and a clever way to show her art because it speaks for itself. All she needs at the top of her page is a “about” and “news” page. Although, I would have liked to see a “contact” page.

YouTube Advice

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I have learned a lot from YouTube over the years. How to do my makeup, how to braid my hair, how to put a shelf in the wall. So why not pick up some web design skills from a Youtuber? I found this insightful video on important skills I should know as a web designer.

There are three skills that this almost too calm man says are necessary to keep in mind. Empathy, Awareness, and Grit.

Empathy is the ability to understand the experiences and feelings of another person. This applies to the industry, as he explains, because we should understand why trends became trends in the first place. For example, he stresses that we ask clients “what need does this design fill for you?” “Why is this trend a logical solution to the problem we want to solve?” He says that to make things for people, we have to understand those people, we have to empathize with them.

Awareness is part of a web designer’s career because it helps us to recognize our strengths and weakenesses and being able to work off of them. He says that this helps us to not take our mistakes too seriously and to take those moments as a time to push ourselves to be better. Being aware gives us the confidence to know what we want when designing. “You know what you’re capable of and you know what you need help with.”

Grit applies to the industry because it has to do with not giving up and staying true to your craft and abilities without getting discouraged. He says that it’s important to push through criticism and learn from it rather than let it knock you down. “Sometimes your biggest critic can be yourself.”

The Pro’s Guide to UI Design

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Creativebloq is a great place to find articles and advice on the world of web design. An experienced UI designer gives readers the low-down on what it’s like to be a user interface designer. He breaks down the work into four categories: you communicate with the client, you research, you design and prototype, and you communicate with the developers. Client communication is about understanding the client’s problem, the goal is to have an idea about what the client’s business is. This is a time where we as the designers ask a lot of questions to become an expert on their industry. “A tip for your own happiness here: choose the industries you work for wisely, so you don’t end up being an expert in something you don’t care about or have an interest in.”

The next phase is research, where I will have to do a lot of field studies, workshops with the client as well as analyze the competition. This step is necessary because it informs me on my design choices and can help me in the future when I need to explain why I made certain design choices.

Design and prototyping is when I sketch it out or start to code. This is where he talks about the editing tools he prefers to use, and mentions that everyone has a different place they like to go to for this step. “Being able to use the Adobe Creative Suite and apps like Sketch competently is the equivalent of being able to use a pencil to draw or a brush to paint.”

The final step is developer communication, which is a process of detailed specifications, provided assets, as well as reviewing the design with the client. “The best designers know the challenge isn’t in creating the design, but in communicating it – not only to the stakeholders who have to give their approval, but also to the developers who have to implement it.”

Never too late to learn new skills

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I wanted to see what else there was out there on the web that can help me to become a freelancer in web design. What skills should I know? What tricks can make me stand out? I checked out the webdesignerdepot and found out that there are several things I need to “master” before I can go on. It’s important to know the basics, which is how to properly use color, flow, balance and proportion, and spacing. Color is crucial because it creates a message all in itself. “It works on the psychological, where colors influence how a site visitor views his user experience.” Flow is related to movement, and balance and proportion means stability, or if everything is consistently symmetrical or asymmetrical. Spacing is necessary to make the elements look like they are able to “breath” so to speak.

The list goes on to knowing HTML “like the back of your hand,” which I’m currently learning in our Online Design class. A tip I like the best is “committing to constant learning.” I believe there are always new things to learn in this field. By learning more, I have something greater to offer as an artist. It’ll allow me to expand my creativity and skills to improve. This makes sense because there are always new design trends that businesses want to follow.

In the end, the author reminds web designers to stay true to our passion and reach our “zen.” “The more you work on things that go beyond merely just design, the more you become a much, much better web designer. And that’s when you start to penetrate through to master status.”