Design Essentials

Tools that I personally found helpful that can be used no matter what design profession you’re in.

Sharpie
A simple and yet powerful pen for sketching and note-taking. It’s small, lightweight, lasts forever and has enough thickness and contrast that you can read post-its from afar.

Faber Castel Artist Pens
I liked these ones in particular in combinations with a Moleskine / Leuchtturm oder whatever sketchbook you like. They are high quality and precise pens.

Moleskine
I love the Moleskine for the paper quality of the sketch books. The dotted versions are especially helpful. However, there are many similar brands out there today with similar quality.

Sketch Roll
A secret tip if you’re not coming from an architectural background. Sketch Rolls are fantastic for the ideation / conceptual phase. The paper is recycled, thin and easy to discard. Helps to avoid clinging to bad ideas.

Digital Product Design

Everything you need to design digital products and services.

Design

Figma
Currently my favourite tool when it comes to digital product design. I was a heavy sketch user many years before and the only reason figma is my #1 is the realtime collaboration and sharing feature.

Sketch App
I still use sketch a lot even though I replaced it with figma a while ago. It’s a great backup in case companies I work cannot use cloud based tools for security reasons.

Prototyping

Flinto
Personally my go-to prototyping tool when it comes to creating screen transitions. It is fast, reliable and offers tons of options to create custom transitions.

Principle
It is slightly more complex to use than Flinto but offers almost infinite options for tweaking micro interactions. It is a pain in the butt for complex flows though. Use Flinto instead.

Hand-off / Inspection

Zeplin & Avocode
I have been using Zeplin in the past to collaborate with Developers. However, it is not necessary anymore since I switched to Figma because it has these inspection features included.

Other Tools

The selection above is based on my personal experience. However, there are more tools out there that you can try that are popular as well

Adobe XD  |   Invision   |   Invision Studio   |   Framer   |   Webflow   |   Subform   |   Phase   |   Protopie

Physical Product Design

Everything you need to design your own physical products. These are tools industrial designers use for projects.

3D Modelling

Solidworks
The most powerful engineering tool out there. This is a professional tool and has quite a steep learning curve. I used it for my coffee project and can recommend it for complex projects.

Sketchup
Great for personal use and much more affordable (web version is free!). It is mainly used for architectural projects. Good if you want to redesign your home.

Fusion360
I haven’t used Fusion360 myself but I know that tools from Autodesk are usually the best in their categories. Plus, Fusion360 is free for personal use, students and teachers.

TinkerCAD
Another free CAD tool for hobbyists and tinkerers. If you don’t need a high-end engineering tool like Solidworks or Fusion360, Sketchup and TinkerCAD are good choices for everyone who just want to built a side project.

FreeCAD
A free and open source alternative to Solidworks that is built on parametric design: you can change and reverse parameters to adjust your design.

Rendering

Cinema4D
One of the industry leading tools for 3D modeling and rendering. Powerful for creating photorealistic images of your product, but probably overpowered for most people.

KeyShot
Absolutely stunning render tool to create photorealistic images. Has less of a learning curve compared to Cinema4D.

Kerkythea
I never used Kerkythea, but if you look for a free tool to create nice 3D renderings, this tool looks promising.

3D Printing Services

3D Hubs & Shapeways
I’ve been using both in the past to build my initial prototypes of my coffee filter. If you don’t want to spend money on your own 3D printer, then these are good and affordable options. You could also join Makerspaces and Fablabs near you if you need more tools or want to connect with a likeminded community.

3D Printing tutorial
If you are not familiar how 3D Printing works, then this is a good start: Modeling for 3D printing: A guide for beginners

Manufacturing

Further down the line, when you think that your product is in a good shape, you probably want to outsource the manufacturing process entirely. Alibaba is probably the most popular and affordable place to look for manufacturers. However, it may take a few attempts to find a good manufacturer for long term collaboration.

Alibaba   |   GlobalSources   |   Product Planner 

Apps

A collection of my favorite apps and resources that just makes my life soooo much easier.

Must have

Adobe CC Suite
Affinity Designer
Affinity Photo
Canva
Google One
Dropbox
Rescuetimer
Toggl Timetracking
Duet Display

Productivity & Organisation

Notion
This is my absolute favorite tool. I use it for all kind of tasks: taking notes, planning my week, build my knowledge base and do all my travel planning. At the core, notion uses building blocks and you can basically use them to build your own tool from scratch and adapt it to your workflow.

Evernote
MS To Do
Station
Miro
Meistertask
Dropbox
Zapier

Communication

Zoom - Leader in modern enterprise video communications
Slack
Calendly
Spark Email - The best personal email client.
Teamviewer - TeamViewer helps you remotely connect to desktop computers, mobile devices, and IoT devices from anywhere at any time.

Writing Apps

iA Writer - A clean, simple and distraction-free writing environment.
Scrivener - Go-to app for writers of all kinds, used every day by best-selling novelists, screenwriters, non-fiction writers, students, academics, etc
Ulysses - focused writing experience combined with effective document management, fast syncing and flexible export options
Ommwriter - OmmWriter is a tool which makes it easier for you to concentrate

Free Stock Photos

Sometimes stock pictures come in handy if you don’t have the time to shoot photos yourself. Here is a list of libraries with free stock pics that you can use for your projects.