Design & Technology Trends

How to stay current with new tools and techniques

A coffee mug and a laptop computer against a sky blue background.
Illustration by Vijay Verma (Ouch/Icons8)

Staying current with new tools and techniques is one of my favorite topics to talk about. As a designer, I love to use industry-standard tools and also keep an eye on new ones coming out. I use different avenues to do this so I thought I’d share them in this article.

Go-to Methods

Twitter

Twitter is a great place to be as a designer. Personally, I have found it to be very useful in terms of:

  1. Connecting with others
  2. Engaging in conversations
  3. Noticing trends
  4. Gathering inspiration
  5. Viewing great work from other designers

It can be a bit overwhelming at times, but you don’t have to use it constantly to get value out of it. What I try to do is share my work frequently and reply to or like tweets that I find interesting. Eventually, you might build up a following, which will benefit you throughout your career.

When it comes to finding new tools and resources, Twitter is a goldmine. I find a lot of great resources by following designers, as well as companies. Some companies even have specific design accounts where they share their methods, tools, and processes. There’s a ton of variety. For example, some designers are skilled in particular areas like research, accessibility, animation, etc.

I really think it’s up to you and what you’re interested in. I tend to follow designers who have been in the field for a while as well as early-career designers because I can relate to them more.

Whenever I find a neat resource, I’ll usually bookmark it for later. As far as trends go, they’re relatively easy to spot. You’ll find that trends catch on quickly among designers. Something that I find is discussed a lot are brand refreshes. The Burger King got a lot of attention recently.

Images showcasing colors, typography, and illustrations from the Burger King brand refresh.
Images showcasing colors, typography, and illustrations from the Burger King brand refresh.
Source: Fast Company

Medium

My second go-to method for keeping on top of trends is Medium, which feels ironic since I’m writing this article on Medium! What I love about this platform is everyone is free to share their ideas, regardless of seniority level. I appreciate that because I’m still early in my career and writing has helped me to articulate concepts and become a better communicator.

I usually set aside some time throughout the week to browse Medium. By doing this, I’ve been able to discover new trends, learn about ways to approach tasks and view content around different topics. Similar to Twitter, I see a lot of companies sharing their ideas on here too. This is rather cool because I can get a sense of how different teams approach things.

Other Avenues To Try

Newsletters

Another idea is to subscribe to newsletters. Personally, I try to be intentional with newsletters because if I subscribe to too many, my inbox just becomes flooded and I never get a chance to read them.

I’ve been enjoying these two recently:

Slack Groups

I feel like Slack groups are a great way to network these days. You can engage in conversations, share your work, find jobs, scope out new events in the design community, etc. Just by browsing some channels, I’ve been able to bookmark and save a ton of resources and learn about new tools.

I would recommend limiting which ones you join. I’m in over 15 of them right now and I can honestly say, I really only look at 2–3 of them on a regular basis. You may be different though. If you want to join a ton of groups, go for it!

Here are some I really enjoy:

There are also some Slack groups that are focused on a certain location so if you’re in a particular area or looking to relocate, those may help.

New Tools On the Way!

Now it’s time for the best part of this article — new tools you should get excited about!

Clover

Clover is “the all-in-one notebook for creatives.” It’s designed for better writing and thinking and allows you to quickly capture ideas, notes, and tasks. It looks like it could replace something like Notion.

Quill

Quill looks like it could compete with Slack. They’re on a mission to make messaging better for your team.

Around

Around is reinventing video calls and trying to replace “zombie meetings.” Their platform is “designed for energy, ideas, and action.” It allows you to “gather in ultra-small groups, infuse fresh energy into creative sessions, and get things done in real-time with real results.”

Play

Play is a new prototyping tool for mobile.

Here’s a quote from their site:

Creating your product directly on the medium it’s built for means you can take advantage of features not easily accessible in traditional design and prototyping software.

Spline

Spline is an upcoming 3D design tool. It’s still in the early stages but I see it making a huge impact and making 3D more accessible.

I hope this article gave you some ideas and got you excited about what’s to come in the design industry. How do you stay current with new trends, tools, and technologies? Engage in the conversation below!

A detail-oriented product designer focusing on design systems, interactions, and research — celinefucci.com

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