Design Tutorials

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Great Designer (Part 2 of 3)

Use your tools to work smarter, not harder

Jon Moore
Modus
Published in
9 min readMay 24, 2019

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Illustration: Timo Kuilder

Note: This entire article is tool agnostic. That is, it doesn’t matter if you use Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, or Microsoft Paint, these tips will help you.

IfIf you haven’t already, I highly recommend starting out with Part 1 of this guide, which establishes a proper foundation of design best practices and will ensure your journey begins on the right foot.

Part 2 of our series helps you dial in your productivity potential by teaching you how to make your tools work for you instead of against you.

Before we start, click here to check out my design system for Figma!

5. Extend the capabilities of your design tool

Tools like Sketch, Figma, and Photoshop are absolute powerhouses of functionality, but every tool has its limits, so don’t stop where the features end.

There are millions of gifted users in the world, and lots of them have built utilities known as add-ons, plugins, or extensions for doing all kinds of new and wacky things beyond the base functionality of the tool.

Think of your design tool like a video camera. Here’s a fancy one that production teams in Hollywood like to use:

An RED camera body. Photo: Jakob Owens on Unsplash

The body of a camera provides its core functionality: recording and storing footage. But most cameras come equipped with slots, plugs, threads, and clamps for adding all kinds of tools: lenses, monitors, microphones, etc:

An RED camera with all kinds of add-ons. Photo: Jakob Owens on Unsplash

These additional tools allow me to do things faster and better than I could with the base tool itself: Footage is sharper, audio sounds cleaner, and batteries last longer.

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Jon Moore
Modus
Writer for

Principal Product Designer at Salesforce