How UX design is changing the world of banking

ux design

“We need banking but we don’t need banks anymore.” — Bill Gates

When you think about it, none of our day-to-day financial needs require us to get up and go to a bank’s physical branch.

All of the financial services we need are now accessible from the tips of our fingers. Smartphones enable us to save and store money, purchase cryptocurrencies and pay for goods in-store with just a few taps. And on the off chance, you need to deposit a paper check, your bank likely has an app for that.

The fintech revolution is in full effect.

Despite how drastically consumer needs have changed over the last 20 years, banks haven’t done much to keep up with the times. Almost all banking apps look pretty archaic in comparison to any modern fintech app ux design.

You know what they say: if you don’t, somebody else will – that’s why banks have fallen behind so quickly. Traditional banking got disrupted by consumer-focused solutions that became instantly available in your pocket.

The roots of the fintech revolution

To start, what does fintech even mean?

Fintech commonly refers to financial technology – everything from what you use to split dinner bills with your friends to the backend of your bank’s local branch.

Technology enables people to explore options outside of traditional banking options.

As more and more people gain access to mobile devices, our financial needs have also started to change pretty drastically.

It’s no longer about writing checks and finding a safe place to store your cash – we need mobile solutions that enable us to quickly exchange funds and manage our finances with the tap of a finger.

That’s where fintech startups shine. They’ve out-designed their competition.

They understand what their target users need and base their UX design entirely off of that. It’s not about cutting costs and increasing profit margins, it’s about creating a better alternative to traditional financial services for different types of users all over the world.

If you snooze, you lose

Big banks have been extremely slow to adapt to changing consumer needs. Most online banking apps look too dated to be inviting. Some of them still look like they’re straight out of the 90s.

Once PayPal beat banks in creating a fast, secure digital payment system, it was all downhill from there.

The digital solutions traditional banks have created don’t stack up to modern fintech platforms like Venmo, Revolut, Square Cash, and all of most all of the crypto wallet alternatives.

Why would anyone put themselves through the trouble of a wire transfer when they can just Venmo someone without fees? Why even have a traditional bank account at all when all-in-one digital alternatives like Revolut exist?

Banks are great for storing funds, but not so great for interacting with them once you’ve deposited them.

PayPal became the world’s number one digital payment system not because it was the only way to send money, but because it was the most user-friendly.

Banks need to shift their focus towards UX Design

Banks need to shift their focus towards creating great user experiences if they want to compete with fintech startups.

It’s time to think outside of the box. Banks only went online as a defense mechanism – to cut the number of physical locations and employees they needed in an effort to improve profit margins.

On the other hand, fintech companies are in it for the users. They don’t have an existing customer base, they don’t have shareholders to worry about, and most of them don’t have physical locations to pay for.

Despite the fact that most people still place their trust (at least partially) in traditional banks, digital alternatives to almost all areas of finance have rapidly grown in popularity over the last ten years.

There’s an app for everything.

Robinhood has gotten millennials excited in the stock market again. Petal is helping people without credit get their first credit cards. And Paysense is helping underbanked citizens across India secure personal loans with a simple digital form.

If traditional banks want to compete, they need to build meaningful online and offline user experiences.

Adobe MAX 2018: The future of UX/UI design

Last month was all about user experience and interface design at Adobe MAX, featuring more than 150 speakers from different creative industries. This year’s focus? Designing new interfaces and experiences that go beyond the screen.

Adobe XD stole the show on day one when principal designer Khoi Vinh announced XD would be the first UI/UX platform to include voice prototyping.

 

What is Adobe MAX?

Adobe MAX is a massive conference for multi-disciplinary creatives. It’s also an opportunity for Adobe to announce product updates and get feedback from their core users.

It’s also a great opportunity for people to get a quick snapshot of the creative industry – emerging fields, popular trends, and which tools the professionals are using.

Naturally, UX/UI design has become a major focus at Adobe MAX over the last few years, so Adobe took some time to announce some major updates coming to Adobe XD.

 

Adobe XD becomes the first design platform to enable voice prototyping

As more digital experiences take place off-screen, Adobe XD wants to help designers stay ahead. With the rise of devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, getting into voice prototyping is starting to make a lot of sense for the modern designer.

The team behind Adobe XD showed just how much they’re paying attention by becoming the first platform to launch voice prototyping. If designers want to build the future, they need the right tools.

And now they’re here.

 

Animations get even better (and easier)

Animations aren’t just for style points.

They can also make your user interfaces a lot easier to understand.

Animations can be used to highlight alerts, emphasize different selection states, guide users through a new screen, and enhance the overall flow of your experience.

Now, Adobe XD has introduced Auto-Animate, and Drag Gestures – two new features that help designers bring their prototypes to life without leaving the app.

Auto-Animate detects changes in object sizing to create smooth transitions between artboards.

Drag Gestures is exactly what it sounds like: now designers can simulate users dragging their fingers to slide through image carousels and cards.

 

Create your own plugins

Another cornerstone update to Adobe XD is the ability to create custom plugins and app integrations.

Developers can now build custom plugins for Adobe XD and custom tailor app integrations to fit their team’s unique workflow.

There’s not too much on this feature at the moment, but it will definitely be interesting to see what third-party plugins and apps are going to hit the market for Adobe XD.

 

New asset panel and responsive resizing

Responsive resizing helps designers save time by predicting which constraints you’re likely to set and establishing relationships between objects in close proximity.

“The tool does so by analyzing the objects you have selected, their grouping structure, proximity to the edges of the parent group, and the layout information.”

You can also group objects and set constraints manually if you need to. It’s best to use responsive resizing when you’re working on similar assets that require multiple different dimensions, say banner ads or UIs for multiple different screen sizes and orientations.

 

Adobe XD is getting smarter

While Adobe’s design platform isn’t perfect, it’s definitely starting to have its benefits. Adobe XD still isn’t as robust or widely used as Sketch, but being able to do an entire design project in a single app is pretty promising.

Want to hear directly from one of the designers from Melewi? Rikke gave us her thoughts on Adobe XD’s future in the latest edition of The Melewi Standup. Click the link to give it a read!

 

Why are big corporations struggling to stay ahead?

There’s an interesting phenomenon in the modern business world. Yesterday’s biggest corporations are struggling to compete with startups comprised of only a few engineers.

Climbing the ladder is a lot easier than balancing on top of it.

The same goes for the world’s biggest corporations.

Believe it or not, having an abundance of financial resources and top-notch talent can make it pretty difficult to stay competitive. Yes, you read that right – difficult.

Running a large corporation like a startup – no matter how many books get published on the subject – will never be possible.

Big companies have investors to please and mouths to feed. Small startups can pivot their entire business model with a single Slack message. At corporations like Facebook, even the most minuscule design tweaks must be run by multiple levels of management.

Let’s talk about disruption

“Disruption” has quickly become of the Silicon Valley’s favorite buzzwords, but what does it even mean?

The term dates back to Clayton Christensen’s 1997 book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, where he  introduced the concept of “disruptive innovation.” Very simply, the phrase worked to explain how small companies with limited resources could enter a market and topple the established system.

After the term really took off in 2010, Christensen saw things get so out of control that he published a follow-up article in 2016 on the Harvard Business Review.

Being the “Uber of” X doesn’t make you a disruptor. In fact, Uber itself isn’t even a “genuine disruptor.” Taxis still haven’t “overshot the needs” of customers. Uber didn’t create a new market or leverage a low-end foothold in the existing transportation market. To consumers, Ubers are ultimately just better taxis.

Uber immediately appealed to a widespread customer need for better, less-expensive transportation services. Genuine disruptors *start* by appealing to low-end, unserved customers before going mainstream.

So what does disruption have to do with staying ahead?

“Disrupt or be disrupted” misses the point. Most disruptors are startups because they don’t care about disrupting — they only care about serving their customers.

Hear me out.

Disruptive businesses almost always start by satisfying low-end customers or creating a new market. Think of Netflix. Getting your videos on demand, either by mail or digital streaming, was a new concept to the world.

Blockbuster didn’t see Netflix as a threat because of how small its initial user base was. Netflix didn’t start capturing the mainstream market until years after launch.

And that’s what large corporations need to understand if they want to stay ahead. Don’t worry about creating a product or service that immediately goes mainstream – focus on building something that changes the lives of a few core users.

Public corporations have shareholders to please

And sadly, most investors aren’t willing to throw capital at things that aren’t immediately ROI positive.

The worst part is that corporate objectives rarely align with what product teams actually want to work on. At a big company, starting a new project means long meetings, lots of back-and-forth between executives, strict budgeting, and multiple stages of approval.

Startups aren’t as structured.

Iterating on your core features and releasing an update doesn’t require approval from six different board members.

What startups lack in reach, they gain in speed. When you’re at the top of an industry, your competitors look tiny. The problem is, it doesn’t take long for that tiny startup to become a major problem.

Without shareholders, startups can fail and try again as many times as they want without worrying about the valuation of their company.

The fear of failure

At a startup, the fear of failure is what drives you to keep trying. If you don’t keep trying, you won’t have a company.

The same risk doesn’t exist at big corporations. Why would you mess around with ventures that might fail when you’ve already got a successful product on the market?

Our success-oriented culture is what makes it so hard for big companies to keep up with the times.

Take a look at Sears.

For almost 100 years, Sears was the largest retailer in the United States. Things didn’t get hairy until Walmart came along in 1989 and switched up the entire retail model. Even then, Sears continued on its trajectory, merging with Kmart and totaling over 3,500 locations in 2005.

Now, there are fewer than 900 locations in existence between the two, and Sears Holdings Corp. has officially filed for bankruptcy.

In a 2004 interview with CNN, Barbara Kahn (professor of marketing at Wharton School) explained: when Walmart “came along with its great service and low-prices, other retailers started to innovate more with products and service. Sears and Kmart simply trudged along and thought that was good enough.”

It wasn’t good enough. Hindsight is 20/20.

Instead of adapting to the changing market conditions, Sears tried to expand on what worked for them in the past.

It doesn’t matter how many customers you have. If you can’t adapt to the changing needs of consumers, you’re going to lose to the business that can.

Designing products for users around the world

designing products

At Melewi, we like to work with a simple concept in mind:

“Our view is global: we travel to get inspired, gain perspective, and build products and businesses that speak to everyone, everywhere.”

As a team of designers, product managers, and business strategists living in six different countries, we know how important it is to understand the region you’re designing for.

We thought we’d put together a collection of our insights from designing digital products for millions of users all over the globe.

While we’re still working on the full guide that contains insights from everyone on the team and information about all of the different regions we’ve designed products in so far, here’s a quick teaser to get you started.

The smartphone craze is changing

And it’s crucial to understand which devices your users are on when designing products.

Don’t fall into the trap of designing for you and your team.

Unless you’re working on a project for another high-paid group of techies, keep in mind that not all mobile users are on the latest iPhone. Mockups on feature phones may not get you hundreds of likes on Dribbble, but smartphones only make up a fraction of device sales in emerging markets.

Smartphone adoption is slowing down because wealthy regions already have all the latest devices.

In the United States, 95% of Americans have a mobile phone and 77% own smartphones.

That’s almost 67% higher than the percentage of Nigerians who have smartphones.

Proper research is everything. If you’re expanding into a region with a wide range of devices, it’s imperative to optimize your app for multiple screen sizes.

This is where mirroring comes in. We use Marvel and InVision for a ton of our design projects, but they don’t support older smartphones. You can’t beat testing your designs on real devices.

Always put yourself in your users’ shoes and design accordingly. Don’t default to complex animations and high-res gradients if the popular devices in your region don’t have the screen size or processing power to back it up.

It’s difficult to use an app that can’t run on your phone.

Don’t rush it

Expanding your business from Germany to Nigeria requires a lot more than a simple translation.

While the internet makes it easier than ever to scale across borders, many companies struggle to make their product feel local.

That’s why it’s even more important to practice proper discretion these days. If you’re launching a digital product in multiple regions simultaneously, it’s even more important to take your time during the design phase.

Always use the longest translation in your designs and wireframes. If you pick all of your sizing based off of shorter translations, you’re going to be doing a lot of cleaning up later in the game.

Understand the importance of localization when designing products

You want your product to feel new, but instantly familiar.

It’s a balance between pushing the boundaries, creating a memorable experience, and designing your product to feel natural as soon as a new user picks it up. Moreover, users won’t engage with user interfaces that push them too far out of their comfort zone.

Always take a close look at the most popular apps and websites in the region you’re targeting.

Hamburger menus (and hamburgers) are popular in the US, but in China, pinning your navigation buttons to the bottom is the norm.

That’s because everyone browses apps and websites differently. It’s important to understand how your users engage with their favorite apps if you want to craft an interface that feels natural to them.

You can’t replace real diversity

A boutique design agency from Los Angeles might be great for a luxury e-commerce website, but you wouldn’t choose them to build a digital wallet for the underbanked citizens of Myanmar.

It’s hard to design international products if everyone on your team looks alike and lives in the same location.

You need to work with a team who understand the regions you’re targeting when designing products.

If you don’t empathize with the people you’re designing for, it’s a recipe for culture-mismatch. Understanding the nuances of a foreign culture is impossible without going there and fully immersing yourself in it.

As a team of digital nomads, we spend a massive chunk of time immersing ourselves in foreign cultures all over the world. Whenever we’re approached to tackle a project in a new region, there’s a high chance someone on our team has already spent some time there.

We pride ourselves on our ability to relate to users all over the world — regardless of what language they speak or what devices they’re on.

Feel free to send us an email with some of your questions about designing products for users all over the world and we might answer it in the next edition of The Melewi Standup.

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We’ve recently joined the DesignRush directory of design companies. If you’re ever in need of a Branding Agency be sure to check it out!

City congestion is still a problem and apps like Uber aren’t helping

Ride-hailing apps claim to alleviate traffic in congested cities by reducing the number of drivers on the road, but things aren’t so black and white.

Apps like Uber and Lyft gained popularity as alternatives to booking private cars, taking taxies, or driving your own car into town.

Aside from giving existing car owners the opportunity to leave their cars in the driveway when they knew they’d be drinking or finding parking would be a problem, the convenience Uber and Lyft brought to the market created an entire generation of people who don’t see a need to buy cars as a result.

It all works in theory, but there’s one problem: everyone wants to be an Uber driver.

Ride-sharing isn’t accurate

Unfortunately, ride-sharing isn’t the same thing as ride-hailing. Uber and Lyft make it seem like they’re getting cars off of the road by encouraging people to hitch rides around the city, but really they’re just creating a new reason to take your car out for the night.

Uber and Lyft are commoditizing the driver-for-hire economy by automating the process of booking rides and taking jobs. It’s also incredibly easy to get a job in the first place – as long as you’ve got a car and a license, you can become an Uber driver.

In a report published this July, James A. Parrott and Michael Reich found that in New York City, almost two-thirds of drivers who worked for ride-hailing services held no other jobs; and almost 80% purchased cars to earn a living by driving them.

The model is fundamentally flawed.

More and more people are starting to use services like Uber and Lyft — meaning there’s always a need for more drivers.

For every car ride-hailing services take off the road, another one comes on in the form of a hirable contractor.

Ride-hailing doesn’t always help

The key to making money as an Uber driver is efficiency. Longer, more obscure trips pay more, but it doesn’t always work in the driver’s favor because they can’t always find a return trip back.

Like taxis, Uber drivers only make money when they have passengers in the car. As a driver, this means you want to pick up new riders up as close to your last drop-off as possible.

That’s why drivers tend to focus on high traffic/surge areas – the places that were already congested to begin with – resulting in even more traffic in some cities.

Why would we take the bus?

When the first ride-hailing apps launched, they weren’t competing with public transportation. Rides-for-hire were definitely becoming more popular, but they were still expensive. The people who were using public transportation didn’t immediately jump ship for Uber and Lyft.

Until, of course, Uber Pool and Lyft Line came out. They’re just like normal Uber and Lyft rides, but with multiple passengers that get dropped off and picked up somewhere along your route.

Your Uber now has bus stops — and it’s cheaper.

Now, people who would have normally taken public transportation are opting for private rides. In cities that rely on their subway, bus, and train systems to reduce congestion, this is becoming a major problem.

But cars aren’t the only problem…

While alternative methods of navigating the city like scooters and bikes have been around in places like Germany and Taiwan, the dockless vehicle craze is just getting started in the U.S.

And the experience is far from perfect. In fact, scooters were banned in San Francisco after months of complaints about scooters being left in streets, blocking businesses, and riders not wearing helmets.

Now, a maximum of five scooter/bike sharing companies are allowed to operate within San Francisco’s city limits — and so far just two (neither company is Bird or Lime) have been granted permits to scatter their scooters around the city.

Dockless transportation is great for mobility, but clutter around the city is terrible for congestion.

If we’re certain about one thing, it’s that there’s no single solution. Ride-hailing services and dockless scooters are a step in the right direction towards global mobility, but it’s going to be a while before all of the kinks get ironed out.

Does anyone still use Snapchat?

Quick answer: not really.

Snapchat was one of the first apps to fundamentally change the way we consume content, but a particularly terrible redesign has prompted more than 3 million users to jump ship and make the switch to Instagram full-time.

Snap Inc. hasn’t exactly had the smoothest road post-IPO. After Instagram Stories launched, Snapchat’s quarterly growth rate plummeted from 17.2% to 5%.

Snapchat is flatlining while Instagram Stories is just getting started. 

Users are experiencing something Tech Crunch calls “stories fatigue.” Stories were a hot commodity when they first launched because Snapchat was the only one doing it. Even when Instagram launched its own version of Stories, the 24-hour content craze was still just getting started.

But it turns out Instagram’s theory was right. It’s not Snapchat that people loved, it was the stories they were posting and consuming. You know what people also love? Scrolling through their Instagram feeds. By building Snapchat’s core feature directly into the home screen of their app, they allowed users to access their favorite part of Snapchat without actually opening the app.

Snapchat’s controversial UI always kept the platform somewhat exclusive to younger audiences. And it wasn’t long after Snapchat’s launch before tens of millions of teenagers started using ephemeral photos and videos as a form of communication.

But at the end of the day, Snapchat has three core problems:

  • Instagram already had a massive head start in terms of resources and active users, this made it super easy to perfect their features and generate a ton of users quickly
  • Advertisers have never been that interested in Snapchat
  • Snapchat’s February  redesign was the nail in the coffin for millions of users

Getting copied and struggling to find consistent revenue aren’t problems any business would like to have, but they’re not fatal. On the other hand, throwing out the few core features that still draw people to your platform definitely has the capability to prove fatal.

And that’s exactly what Snapchat did when Spiegel released and stood by a universally hated update that completely changed how the app was navigated.

 

Sometimes you just can’t beat the numbers

Snapchat is currently the only major social media platform with a shrinking user base.

It’s no secret Instagram has always had a lot more users than Snapchat.

So when Instagram rolled out its own version of Stories, it was only a matter of time before people would stop hopping over to Snapchat when they could get the same experience without leaving their feed.

This is a basic rule of product design.

You can’t expect users to go out of their way when there’s an easier solution right in front of their face.

Yes, Snapchat is a completely different platform from Instagram – it’s a communication tool. But in terms of engagement, Snapchat just isn’t as binge-worthy as Instagram Stories. Snapchat has never been the same since its aweful redesign earlier in the year.

It’s also hard to beat Instagram because it has become such a diverse social media platform. Only a select group of people is on Snapchat — mostly younger audiences based in the US that are coming for Snap’s animated lenses and filters. And it won’t be long before Instagram steals that audience as well with its own versions of AR lenses and fun filters.

 

No money, mo’ problems

Snapchat was a great idea to begin with, but not all great ideas end up turning a profit. Evan Spiegel’s struggles to generate positive cash flow showed everyone just how hard it is to make revenue off of peer-to-peer communication.

The fact that Instagram continuously poached Snapchat’s features wasn’t really that much of a problem in the beginning. Snapchat’s existing userbase was loyal, and the platform was still used in a drastically different way than Instagram.

The problem, here, was that Instagram was already making a ton of revenue off of its existing ad platform and could rely on Stories as a tool to drive further engagement.

Not to mention the fact that Instagram’s Story ads have quickly become one of Facebook’s top placements in the ad auction.

On the other hand, Snap Inc. still hasn’t found a reliable way to generate revenue and become cash flow positive.

 

The nail in the coffin

Remember when Kylie Jenner wiped over $1B off of Snap Inc.’s market cap with a single tweet?

That was back when Snapchat caused millions of users to completely abandon their app with a single redesign to the core navigation.

Oh yeah, and it also resulted in a Change.org petition with over 1.2 million signatures.

Definitely not one of Snap Inc.’s best days. They tried to cover it up with a half-hearted redesign a few weeks later, but the damage was already done.

Snapchat completely ruined its user experience in an effort to expand its user base and get more eyes on parts of the app that could potentially generate revenue. What made Snapchat great was its simplicity. The app came with a steep learning curve, but once you got it down, snapping one of your friends is arguably the fastest form of asynchronous mobile communication.

However, Snapchat’s pre-petition update put stories, snaps, and chats all on the same page, made it harder to send out snaps, and replaced the entire Discover page with horrendous ads and sponsored content.

And instead of listening to user feedback, reverting the changes, and rethinking their growth strategy, users were stuck with the unanimously hated update for almost a month.

 

What are the key takeaways?

  • Change your design too drastically and you may lose the trust of your users
  • Being the first to market isn’t always enough, it’s easy to get swallowed by big fish that dominate the market share
  • If you’re not profitable in the beginning, you probably won’t be profitable later – scrambling to generate revenue at later stages results in bad product decisions
  • Ignoring user feedback for too long causes them to find other solutions

What we use, how we use it, and why we use it

An inside look at the Melewi design process.

If you’re a creative, chances are you’ve heard the phrase “your gear doesn’t matter” at least a couple times in your life.

It’s true — buying a full-frame DSLR won’t make you a professional photographer. And downloading Sketch doesn’t automatically turn you into a UI designer.

But we all know what gear you have can play a huge role in what you’re able to create.

Having a hammer and nails doesn’t teach you carpentry, but it’s impossible for a carpenter to build a house without the right equipment.

The same goes for creatives. 

You can design an app with a pencil and notebook alone, but adding Sketch and InVision to the mix makes the process quite a bit easier.

And when you’re a remote team, using the right tools to stay organized and effectively collaborate with your coworkers is even more important. With today’s technology, running a business made up of team members all over the world can be just as easy as sharing an office space.

Here’s a quick look at the main apps we use on a daily basis at Melewi — from how we communicate internally to what we use to craft designs for our clients.

 

Slack

Is there anyone who hasn’t heard of Slack at this point? It’s now the fastest growing business app of all time, and back in May, it hit eight million daily active users.

There’s a reason massive companies like Airbnb, Target, Ticketmaster, and Oracle trust Slack for their internal communication needs.

Slack is like a digital office — it allows you and your coworkers to share a common space regardless of where you are in the world. 

We use it for quick progress checks, impromptu chats, and project collaboration. Slack is also super handy for tracking progress with third-party apps and quickly sharing assets with multiple team members.

And of course, we also have channels like #yaaas and #random setup to celebrate wins and share GIFs with each other.

Slack is mature and widespread enough now that we don’t really need to talk about its benefits over email — it’s a whole different beast. It would be almost impossible to run a collaborative remote business without it as your primary communication tool.

 

Dropbox

This is another pretty obvious choice for almost any digital business nowadays. There are a ton of alternatives, but in our opinion, Dropbox is still the easiest to use and the most widely accepted method of sharing files.

Dropbox’s desktop app makes it easy for us to sync design files and assets at the end of every day with a single click.

Cloud-based design apps like Figma and InVision Studio may eventually reduce our need to use Dropbox internally, but it’s hard to imagine it ever getting replaced entirely. If you’re looking for a cheap, reliable, easy-to-use file sharing app that’s already integrated into a ton of different apps, Dropbox should be at the top of your list.

Check out our case study that was featured on the Dropbox blog “One team, no base: How Melewi works worldwide with Dropbox Business

 

RealtimeBoard

RealTimeBoard may not be as well known as Slack or Dropbox, but it’s just as crucial to our workflow.

At Melewi, we use RealtimeBoard exactly how a team in an office would use a whiteboard. It’s our place to lay out ideas, organize information, and start the wireframing process for our clients.

We also use RealtimeBoard to plan out internal work because it just offers a bit more flexibility than a basic Google Doc. The templates already included are also pretty helpful for quickly laying out sprints and sharing your ideas.

Check out Melissa’s Ask Me Anything on the RealtimeBoard blog

 

Sketch

Sketch is to designers what Lightroom is to photographers — it’s become an industry standard.

There are other choices out there, but we’ve found clients request Sketch ~90% of the time.

We still use Photoshop for image intensive projects and the occasional client request, but make no mistake, Sketch is definitely the better working environment for UI and web design.

Sketch is completely vector based, and it already has a ton of third-party apps and integrations with other popular design tools that put it a cut above the other options.

You can’t really beat the Sketch+InVision combo for creating quick prototypes and getting feedback from other team members and clients.

We’ve experimented with popular alternatives like Figma and Adobe XD, but we definitely still get the most requests for Sketch — and we have no plans to jump ship at the moment unless the full version of InVision Studio blows our minds.

The fact that it’s a one-time buy also makes it relatively affordable for teams… we all know how quickly those monthly fees can add up.

 

Zeplin

Zeplin is one of the newest applications we’ve incorporated into our workflow. It’s important to remember that Sketch files aren’t usable. They may look pretty, but at some point, those mockups and style guides need to be turned code.

That’s where Zeplin shines.

Zeplin works in tandem with Sketch similar to InVision, but it serves a slightly different purpose.

InVision is primarily for organizing prototypes and making clickable mockups.

Clients love Zeplin because of how much easier it makes the handoff process.

Zeplin is the final contact point between designers and developers. It makes it incredibly easy to download CSS snippets, take measurements, and exchange assets all in one place.

 

Photoshop

As mentioned above, we still use Photoshop for image editing and the occasional client project, but most will admit it’s on its way out as a tool for web design due to its limited vector capabilities.

That said, there’s still nothing out there more powerful than Photoshop for image editing. So until Sketch adds its own image editor, it’s impossible for us to give Photoshop up for at least some parts of our workflow.

 

InVision

InVision is another pretty obvious choice for designers these days. When it comes to mocking up quick prototypes and sending screens around for feedback, it’s hard to beat InVision.

We love InVision for its versatility — it works great whether you’re sending designs to clients or collaborating with coworkers.

And with Sketch, you can upload designs to InVision and update mockups without leaving the app.

 

Less is always more

We’re all about reducing the number of tools in our toolbox. Relying on fewer applications during the design process means less confusion and fewer opportunities for things to go wrong.

Your gear can accentuate your strengths, but it can’t compensate for your weaknesses.

We’re naturally good at communicating together as a team, and if you take a look at our current toolbox, most of the apps we use reflect that collaborative environment we thrive in.

Different teams all work differently.

How do you like to work? And what do you use to help you accomplish that?

Setting the right criteria to make hiring easy

The best people need to be won over.

Too many of today’s job postings sound like they’re doing candidates a favor by making a position available.

This method doesn’t attract the best job candidates because the best people will always have options. You need to be compelling — you should make your team stand out as the best potential option for that role.

Your job postings are an opportunity to show that you’ve built something other people want to be a part of.

Create the job listing that you’d love to come across yourself — what you believe in, what your values are, and what exactly you’re looking for. Go beyond what the role itself has to offer and instead show what you as a company can offer to someone that joins your team.

 

Determining if someone is the right fit

A good team culture is all about making sure your team is aligned. If you want to work efficiently and avoid stepping on each other’s toes, it’s vital to be on the same page.

That doesn’t mean you should go and argue about the formatting of a document, but you should all share the same overall mission as a team.

Being on the same page is different than being the same.

The first is crucial and the second is catastrophic.

Making sure your team is full of diversity is extremely important.

The Melewi team spans six countries and seven vastly different lifestyles, but we all share the same desire to create badass designs and collaborate with compelling new businesses.

As cheesy as it sounds, it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside as long as your team is happy on the inside.

 

When you’re interviewing, ask questions like…

 

“ What do you look for in a team you would enjoy working with?”

“Describe the most ideal way to collaborate with you”

“What do you need to create an effective work environment?”

How do you know if this person is “the one?”

It doesn’t matter how talented someone is if they don’t fit your team’s culture.

You might get tempted to hire them anyway, but if they’re not compatible, your team’s culture is only going to get dragged down.

Never sacrifice your team’s culture to scale.

Protecting your culture is far more valuable than taking on more work. Try to utilize trial products to vet how potential hires fit into your team before you sign a long-term contract.

Finding people with the right experience that perfectly fit your team’s culture is a lot easier when you set the right criteria during the hiring process.