Today it’s easier than ever to develop products in a huge team — and by team I mean you and the other users out there. So maybe you have heard about #overmorrow — it’s a concept of Frederik and myself in which we express the vision of how we want to work. We want to create meaningful stuff together with you, the user. And with ‘stuff’ we’re not only talking about problems we both face but problems that many people out there have. Making the world a better place sounds good, right?
As a digital native one of the most important parts is the setup of your workflow and the selection of your tools, so we’re going to start with that. I’ve watched the documentary by Matt D’Avella on Netflix called ‘Minimalism’ a few times. In a world where there’s ‘an app for that everything’ it’s sometimes hard to even get started. That’s why we adopted some ‘minimalism’ concepts into our workflow. Also, it really makes me happy to have less gadgets and a cleaner desk so that I can focus on what really matters. When you are a product designer and come from the Apple universe it’s not that easy to leave that Golden Cage behind. Back in the days Apple products have been the shit among designers and a Mac was the first choice in the creative scene. However, in the last few years cloud computing evolved pretty much and the end device itself lost more and more appeal. For me as a creator it’s way more important to build things together, at the same time, in the same file. That’s where the truly magical stuff happens these days!
When I work with Apple devices, I usually create my first sketches on an iPad with the Apple Pencil. I then sync those files to my computer where I create some more mature designs. Over the last years I got tired of always carrying all those different products with me and I was actively looking for some alternatives.
What is the best of both worlds? For me it’s Google’s Pixelbook.
Originally I was trying to find a way to use the iPad Pro as my only device, but I quickly saw that there is no way to use apps like Sketch or Figma on it. Not being able to use Figma was a deal breaker for me.. But why a Chromebook? I have tried different convertibles out there but when you also need a responsive digital pen the choices aren’t that big. Also, coming back to that minimalism thing, Chrome OS is pretty basic. It does not feature a rich desktop or a fancy widgets. It helps me to focus on the meaningful things. It helps me to get stuff done without distracting me. That’s why I’m using a Chromebook for overmorrow. And using a chromebook as your only daily driver as a product designer also means leaving the comfort zone.
Comfort zone is the worst place on earth — Casey Neistat
I chose a setup where I have to focus on the work, the challenges and the user. Not making it pretty or having a ton of likes on dribbble and no product.
The tools I use and how I try to be as transparent as possible
- Figma for graphic design (incl. sketches from Google Keep)
- Trello to show our progress (micromanagment: todoist)
- YouTube skill striptease … super afraid of it 😰
Comparing workflows: the best setup money can buy vs how I now work in 2018
BEST SETUP MONEY CAN BUY — my workflow in 2017
So I have a 15 Inch MacBook Pro 2018 (3,499$), a iPad Pro with LTE and Pencil (1000$) / other things for this setup: Keyboard, Trackpad, a stand for the MBP and 2 charger, for MBP and iPad.
Software: Sketch, Principle, zeplin, Keynote, skitch, affinity photo, haiku, after effects, spark mail, sip, paper, evernote, google keep, procreate
I would start to write and draw down my idea in Paper (by 53) to have the basic layout and idea ready to work on. I would send this to my Mac via AirDrop to put it in Sketch. With this reference I start to create the first. When It comes to issues with my ideas or layouts I would start over with the first step and redraw some stuff -or- I would use skitch to screenshot it to annotate the problems I see, so I don’t miss them. Anyways this would land in my sketch file aswell. When I want to get feedback, I would send my work in zeplin and get feedback there. If we agree on a specific path I would create micro interactions in haiku or principle (depends if it’s an transition or animation).
BEST SETUP FOR ME — or how I work in 2018
and the workflow with it
My best setup is minimalistic and lightweight. It’s just a Pixelbook with a Pen. One Charger, that can also charge my Phone. Software: Here’s the limitation. You have to take whats on the web. For UI I’ve choose Figma and for drawing Google Keep. I can use both on a Mac or PC from everywhere. I just need a browser for it.
I would start to write and draw my idea in Google Keep to have the same base as above. The cool thing here is that i can immediately paste my drawings into Figma (copy & paste). To iterate on ideas, I would screenshot it as well with the pen and have that Figma/drawing back and fort instantly. And this is the most important part. NO DISTRACTIONS! With Figma I also don’t need an extra tool for developer handover and discussions. It’s all built in. Even Prototyping. For wire-framing, when WE create product visions together from scratch, I use whimsical.co.
ISSUES WITH LESS
I’m still missing a browser based app like principle to show really quick animations and transitions for developers and clients. And I miss Paper on the iPad, because it’s like a book and it’s so nice and pretty 🙂
BENEFITS WITH LESS
Pure or let’s say a better focus on the what, instead of the how. Also reducing distraction to a minimum is simply awesome. When I scribble my ideas and concepts in keep, I can also focus more what I want to draw instead of making it pretty.
To be honest… I’m still using my iPad and MacBook Pro to do client work. Especially when it comes to more artistic work the iPad is awesome with procreate and pencil. Hands down.
But I really love to work with the Pixelbook, because of it’s tool limitations, less distractions and more of what matters! Screen size and form factor is also perfect for me. The keyboard is way better than the one from the MBP. I’m happy to finally escape the golden cage. To know that I’m actually not attached to any device or system and I can, no matter what, find a way to work from anywhere makes me feel free and happy.