Five Interactive Designers Share Their Treasured Finds Favorites

Five Interactive Designers Share Their Treasured Finds

Asia Hoe, Oscar Llarena, Kelly Goto, Du Haihang and Catt Small share their favorite interactive tools.

Asia Hoe

Unlikely inspiration: K-pop! The vibrant colors and visuals, the audacious dance moves and storytelling are exciting and make me feel like a kid all over again. I know only a handful of Korean words, but it doesn’t matter because I still enjoy the music—it transcends the boundaries of language and culture. As a designer, I want to evoke this same feeling in my work.

Latest tech: I’ve been building a small collection of my favorite newsletters, and so far, I’ve boiled it down to Product Hunt’s newsletter and Sidebar. These are my go-to news sources for the most popular developments in the tech industry. It’s a little unorthodox, but I also like watching what my friends star on GitHub—it’s a great place for inspiration. 

Online camaraderie: I’m a huge fan of Makerbase, a directory of who’s behind your favorite sites and apps. Entrepreneur Anil Dash and tech writer Gina Trapani have created a community founded on the idea of giving credit where it is due in a safe environment. I love seeing what people have made and who’s connected to whom. It’s a positive reminder that creating is how we can change the world, one project at a time.

Oscar Llarena

Virtual assistant: As a user experience designer, the ability to quickly re-create and repeat objects is vital. So I appreciate the simplicity of OmniGraffle. The stencils and templates available in its community have made it my go-to when I am in need of creating systematic designs. 

Creative fuel: Solid headphones and an amazing playlist. The key is finding the genre of the day that gets me in the groove. Usually, it’s a combination of old-school hip-hop and solid lounge music, like poolside.fm. 

Guilty pleasure: Besides dark chocolate? It has to be Patterns by UXPin. I love to look at the transformation from wires to design. Some-times, they are so close, you almost can’t tell the difference, but the amazing patterns are easily accessible resources for inspiration. 

Kelly Goto

Office present: I think enabling your team to attend an amazing, thought-provoking and community-driven conference is the best gift you can give them. One standout conference is the Fluxible conference in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada—the 2015 conference had a literal “goat check,” where you could check your goat in or check a goat out, along with live music interludes between speaking sessions.  

Must-read book: I really connected with Mona Patel’s Reframe: Shift the Way You Work, Innovate, and Think. Patel is a design researcher, a motivator and a working mom. Her approach allows new ways of thinking and asking questions to reach a higher level of creative thinking.  

Tip for the future: Businesses have used market research, information and data visualizations for years, led by focus groups and surveys. But times are rapidly changing as market stability decreases and new attitudes, behaviors and trends emerge. We can’t rely on traditional market research as we have in the past; instead of using demographics, we need to innovate in cycles using deep-dive research and produce need and behavior models.

Du Haihang

Serious toys: Activation Nodeplus constantly invests in the latest digital gear to stay at the vanguard of design. We use iBeacon to run check-in appli-cations with China’s most popular social app, WeChat, and we use Leap Motion in some event demos as a motion-sensing input device. Our growing collection of wearable toys includes Apple Watches, Google Cardboard and an Oculus Rift headset. We’re expecting a Microsoft HoloLens soon, and we’re eagerly awaiting more news on Magic Leap, an augmented reality interface. 

Mind-blowing user experience: I’m particularly fond of code-driven art—any artistic experience with meticulous pixel details, seamless transitions and run-time animations. One example of an impressive code art gallery is digital agency Resn’s site at resn-experiments.tumblr.com.  

Small touch: Designers and developers still commonly use PNG files, but I prefer WebP and WebP converters. It’s a smaller-sized image format, but the file type doesn’t sacrifice quality.  

Catt Small

Smart sketching app: Instead of spending hours outlining pixel sizes and colors, I use Zeplin, which plugs directly into Sketch and turns artboards into interactive specs. As soon as I finish working on a screen, I press two keyboard buttons, and the specs and assets are instantly available to developers.  

Remote control: I’m a big fan of InVision. At first, it was just an annotation tool, but it kept growing and adding new, useful design features. Now we use it at SoundCloud for prototyping, annotation and documentation via its new Boards feature. I highly recommend it, especially for distributed teams! 

Greatest investment: Good programming lessons. In my opinion, the best way to learn to design for a platform is to first dive into code and user experience design in a class setting—alongside a knowledge-able mentor. I took a cheap Android development class this summer and deeply regretted not spending more on a full course; the class was very short, and if I had invested more, I might’ve gotten more hands-on experi-ence and spent more time with a teacher. When possible, don’t skimp on education.  

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