The Best New Software Tools for Designers in 2019 Voted by Top Designers and Influencers
We’ve reached out to top designers and design influencers and asked them to share what new software tools they are most excited about for 2019. They came back with a solid list of dozens of new cutting-edge software tools, which will save you time and help you to produce beautiful work for your clients.
Google Senior Design Advocate
Variable fonts and the evolution of various prototyping tools are really exciting. I’m also really intrigued by the various design patterns for hacking user perception designers come up with. I have been working on designing for speed, so it is always interesting to see new things in the wild.
Head of Design at VCCP
Font tech 2019 is exciting for typography and I love the way font tech is developing. OpenType-SVG Fonts that add texture and variable fonts for digital channels are also really exciting.
Designers can use variable fonts to help the reader, add a weight axis to reduce font weight for smaller screen size on the fly. Or even simplifying the font at smaller sizes and get infinite flexibility all in one font. Like the Decovar Multistyle Decorative Font by David Berlow for Google.
Procreate on iPad: I’ve obviously always had the freedom to draw with a pen on paper, but in 2019 I’ll be using Procreate more. Tech like this allows me to speed the process and experiment in a non-destructive way, as well as trying smoothing handwriting or illustrating with layers. I find the Pen to screen drawing with the ability to export to Photoshop very useful.
Skillshare: Not sure if this counts as a tool or software, but in 2019 I’ll keep educating myself using this learning platform. I try to be curious and always work on improving my skills.
In the design department at VCCP, we are typographers/conceptual designers. We use textures, photoshop brushes, fonts and any elements or assets that might be useful to make visually interesting work.
UX Designer & Entrepreneur. Founder of The School of UX and The UX Conference in London
New design tools are popping up like mushrooms after rainfall these days. Yet there are a few which I’d want designers to try out:
Abstract: for versioning design files, which we as UI designers need to learn to do more of. No need to have “mockups-v6-final-final-final.sketch” file copies on Dropbox anymore, and instead have a single file with all the history of all the changes for peace of mind and a more efficient collaboration.
UsabilityHub: because there’s never such thing as having enough feedback on your design. This platform allows UX designers to run remote usability testing quick and without breaking the bank. As folks from Fight for UX say:
“Fight for the best, always test!”
Google Data Highlighter: allows web designers to add semantic markup to their websites as easy as clickety-clicking through elements on their actual website and teaching Google what each of those elements mean – all for making your content more accessible (without writing a single line of code!).
You can have a look at some of our favourite UX and UI Design Tools we hand out to our students at The School of UX
Vytautas Alechnavicius, KPMG
Experience Design Lead
There are two categories I’m excited about. Firstly, high fidelity prototyping apps, for example the super fresh Framer X (for easy design to advanced code builder), Supernova Studio (for WYSIWYG design to mobile app code production) and Axure 9 which is new version of undefeated, highest fidelity suite in the prototyping market. Secondly, and more importantly I am excited about the collaboration tools. One in mind that was a true game-changer for my team: Realtime Board as it is the simplest tool for sharing ideas.
Junior Design Executive at Mullenlowe Salt
There are two innovations that I am excited for. The first one is a new Adobe application called Aero which allows designers to create immersive AR content.
“As designers, we are now targeting consumers that seek experiences rather than material gratification. It’s a generation that will probably not afford to buy a house or other assets, that were a given for previous generations. Instead, they seek amazing ‘instagramable’ experiences and that’s what brands are seeming to provide.”
For designers who don’t specialise in 3D, Adobe is giving us the opportunity to create immersive designs and visuals that consumers can discover and experience through smartphones for a mass outreach, or high-end headgear, e.g. Microsoft Hololens, for one-of-a-kind immersion.
We will be able to create work that our audience can almost step into rather than flat graphics.
The other innovation I’m looking forward to is Adobe Photoshop becoming available and integrated across platforms. In line with the trend of connected devices -the internet of things- Adobe has made Photoshop available on iPads, making it possible for users to link a working document across devices.
This allows the ever-busier creative professionals to work on their designs on-the-go during valuable commuting or travel time. Their work will automatically be saved across all their devices, including their desktop, through the Creative Cloud.
This opens a world of possibilities for future designers across various devices to accommodate multi-screen use according to individual needs.
Dr. Jonathan A.J. Wilson
Dragonfly Black Partner
I think 2019 is going to see more professionals trying their hand at vlogging and short video format posts. Any software that transforms your smartphone into one-person filming, editing, and posting beast is going to be key.
Also putting in fancy subtitles, captions, idents, transitions, and music to keep it popping and get as close to the feel of a news bulletin will be in demand.
Looking forward to 2019 and I am most excited about Affinity Designer for the iPad
Sustainable Design Consultant concept+design
I always look at everything through my ‘sustainability goggles’. For me, the best design tools are those that help designers make early and informed design decisions that will help to reduce materials waste and physical sampling. That includes virtual material libraries and platforms such as Swatchbook and, for companies that can’t afford to purchase complex 3D design software, services such as Virtuality Fashion, who provide 3D prototypes from 2D sketches. I would also love to get my hands on Tilt Brush by Google, or similar tools, to explore the opportunities around designing sportswear on real bodies!
Design consultant and founder of UX Playground
In my opinion Adobe XD is the tool to watch in 2019. Since the Adobe Max event in 2017, 60+ new features have been launched, which in itself is great news as designers now have a tool that is truly shaped by user feedback.
The user-centric approach that the XD team is taking to develop the software is what excites me the most. Just by looking at Uservoice shows the power of the collective and how developing the next generation of design tools is really determined by its users.
On October 15th, this year the XD team introduced the first of its kind features for prototyping voice interactions. This feature is not only incredibly easy to use but also versatile in terms of its application (Chatbots, voice assistant etc.).
The team is working on expanding on this and I am excited to see what direction they will be taking. Adobe provides monthly updates for XD so it shouldn’t take too long to see these features popping up.
Voice will continue to dominate 2019 and more tools/features will make their way into other design and prototyping applications. For conversational design this is what we need and hoping for as current solutions are often very limited and difficult to use.
Branding & Marketing Expert Boa Branding
I believe the AI tools such us Adobe Sensei or AI based web apps creating Heat Maps for design teams to improve the effectiveness of their work will change the way design involve in business. And the designers will need to equip themselves with more business-centric skills.
Graphic Communications Designer and University Tutor
I am looking forward to software that isn’t so much new but definitely evolved in terms of its use is the Invision which is especially useful when teaching students and being able to annotate their work, critique and offer feedback. I can see this platform being the future for education and teaching creative subjects, as it is becoming increasingly popular because of its variety of tools and uses!
As a teacher, I can give feedback that is more personalised and more precise but also still able to use more traditional ways of marking i.e. with a pen however this time digital on the iPad and easier than for the students to visualise this.
We on the course will definitely be using more of this platform for creative education. Invision which has originally been associated with UX/UI design I can see it having an effect or use in digital publishing or also in the process of editorial design or the digital publishing sphere.
I am looking forward personally to any updates on animation software and potential links to Instagram stories as they are becoming increasingly popular, and in my experience of Social Media, stories are starting to become the forefront of the image sharing app alongside the original posts on your account.
Some may disagree but I think the Instagram and design/creative industries are becoming more intertwined and as a result, I think maybe the software needs to represent this shift also. I am also looking forward to experimenting Plotagraph is now a desktop app for Mac, Windows and Linux – with iOS and Android apps also due out soon. This new cinemagraph app was used by the Grammys to add subtle animation to Instagram posts.
In terms of new tools, I’m looking forward to using illustrators new gradient tool that came out this year as I haven’t had a chance to try that yet!
“In terms of any new tools and software coming out next year, I would always keep a look out because the creative industry, in particular, is probably one the quickest paced industries out there. By the time I have finished this sentence, there are probably numerous more new tools and software updates coming out that we are yet to explore!”
Director at J Takhar Design Limited
In 2019 I will be on the lookout for Prototyping Tools. They help designers like me to experience how their project will work when it will get completed. They let you simulate how the application flows, test their performance and create a great user experience for applications and websites without writing even a single line of code.
Freelancer at Digital Art Director
I’d say a growing trend for product teams right now is working more closely together by way of real-time collaboration in design tools.
At the moment apps like Figma seem to be taking off well because they’re ultimately minimising the time spent sending feedback and sharing ideas. Over longer projects, this can have a huge impact on what can be delivered, and I can only see that continuing to grow over the next year
Creative Director at helloMuller
I’m most excited to see a full version of Adobe Photoshop running on tablets.
I think this will take a mobile design to a new level, offering real mobility to designers and I can only hope to see Illustrator and InDesign make a similar leap.
I’m also looking forward to further developments in the “all-in-one” digital design platforms, like InVision Studio InVision Studio, and how Sketch is building out similar features. That would give designers more flexibility in the design process that closes the gap between design, prototyping and development.
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