A Designer’s Secret Weapons

Plug-ins, tools, and tips to turbocharge your workflow

Christie Tang
Modus
Published in
14 min readMay 26, 2019

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Photo: Hero Images/Getty Images

TThis one time I walked by my colleague’s desk and saw them take a screenshot of a section of a screen, scroll down, take another screenshot, and then slowly sew the screenshots together in an editing tool. I was like, “Stop stop stop — let me change your life.”

I consider myself a power user, and if something takes me longer than five seconds to do or is significantly delaying my workflow, I instantly think there’s gotta be a better way. So I dig pretty deep and search for an add-on, plug-in, app, whatever, to do what I’m trying to do faster.

In addition to mastering your craft and tools, a big part of being a designer is staying up to date with trends and news. One of the best things you can do to stay relevant is immersing yourself in as much new content as you can. I suck at staying on top of the news, so I’ll give you my secret weapons on how I keep myself in the know.

Most of the tools in this post will be specific to designers using Sketch, but a lot will still be useful to product/project managers who work closely with designers. We’ll go through Chrome extensions, apps, Mac settings, email subscriptions, and Sketch plug-ins that will help you actualize the pro you always knew you were.

Chrome Extensions

WhatFont

Hover (left) and on-click (right) shows the font and specifics.

This extension lets you inspect any text on a page, and it will give you its full specs, like the size, weight, line height, color, and even alternative fonts. Alternative fonts are coded as backups when the browser for whatever reason can’t render the preferred font. In the second screenshot, you can see that the preferred font is Proxima Nova and the alternative is Helvetica. This extension is extremely important for any designer, whether you’re already a pro or just starting out. By frequently inspecting fonts you can start to familiarize yourself with different sizes and how they look. Because I do this so often now, I can generally tell the difference between a 17px font and a 16px font. Be sure to also take note of line heights…

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Christie Tang
Modus
Writer for

Product Designer at Meta. Jury at Awwwards. eSports enthusiast. Bonafide nerd. Ketogenic foodie. Sarcastic and crass INTJ. Design casually explained.