Design Tools

A few years ago when the design team at Facebook launched Paper, there was also a lot excitement around the tools they built to explore new interaction patterns for the app. This is when I first heard about Origami and around the same time, Framer.

The idea that certain teams build their own tools stuck with me. It makes sense and seems to be the type of productivity advantage that you’d want your teams to have.

I’m interested in tooling, because it is such a direct route to be a force multiplier for individual or team outcomes. You can have an impact on your team by improving the process; experimenting and sharing how something can be done differently and better. Tools are another venue for having an impact on teams.

I’ve heard how designers at Apple have a similar tool to Principle. There are design systems and style guides that are internal (AirBnb) or open sourced (Bootstrap, Tachyons). There are Sketch plugins that help designers share their document styles, prototype, and design with content and data.

We usually think of tools as a category that only includes hammers and other hardware. Outside of the interaction design domain, I’ve heard of spoken and written language be described as a tool. It’s used as a way to capture and spread ideas. A tool, technology, or concept, fundamentally changes how you work and what you create.

Without innovating on our toolset, the possibility of our output is limited by the tool’s range of possibilities.