Taking business online has never been easier, nor more important. We thought we’d share a few of our favourite tools that have helped us create amazing work and keep our teams connected.

Sketch

95% of our designs for digital platforms are done on Sketch. It’s a quick, zippy tool geared for UI and UX that covers everything from the rough first draft to the final product. It can be used as a replacement for Photoshop to streamline the design process.

FEATURES we love:

  • Very affordable
  • Asset exports
  • Symbols
  • Amazing pre-sets
  • 100% geared towards UI/UX design

InvisionApp

This is a great digital product design platform. InVisionApp is amazing for prototyping, project presentation, collaboration, and asset handovers. 

We mainly make use of their Prototype, Boards, and Freehand tools. We have also recently started using their DSM (Design System Manager) which we think will become invaluable in future.  

Craft (part of InVision) acts as a plugin for Sketch and Photoshop that can be used to sync your InVision prototype directly from other files. At the same time, the assets are exported and available for developers to use. 

We’ve been using InVision for more than five years and the product is constantly growing and improving. They have a great free trial package if you want to give it a try before investing.    

Features we love:

  • Powerful prototyping functionality.
  • Live updates to prototypes through Craft.
  • Boards for great project presentation, especially for branding. 
  • Amazing feedback functionality (best way to communicate feedback with clients that we’ve found).

Monday

monday.com is a project management and workflow tool that ticks all the boxes and keeps us connected and productive. It enables us to combine at least 4-6 tools in one space and is extremely customisable. It has amazing reporting capabilities that give us great insights into our business and clients. 

Features we love:

  • Time tracking
  • Automations
  • Dashboards
  • Multiple views (Tables, Calendar, Kanban etc.)

Slack

We use Slack for real-time chats between our team members. We do our daily updates, group discussions, and private chats on Slack. It has great integration with apps like monday.com and Calendar. 

Features we love:

  • File uploads
  • Pinning messages to channels
  • Private and public channels

Adobe Suite

For all our print, motion, and audio needs we use the Adobe Suite of apps. Illustrator is used mainly for vector graphics and illustrations. Premier and After Effects is used for all things video. Audacity is used for any audio edits we need to make. The Adobe apps have always been very feature-rich and powerful. They have become very “digital design” friendly over the past few years. 

Features we love:

  • Extensive range of apps and services
  • Creative cloud libraries
  • Adobe fonts
  • Loads of cloud storage

Google Hangouts

We use Hangouts for all of our video calls. It’s free, gets the job done and it’s easy to share calendar invites and links in the chat function. As a Google product, it seamlessly integrates with everything else Google.

Features we love:

  • Instant messaging
  • HD video calls
  • Intelligent muting
  • Easy screen sharing
  • Custom control for admins

Atom

Atom is a great smart code editor that we use on all of our coding projects. It’s range of features and functions take away a lot of the drudge associated with coding. You’re able to install packages to customise the editor and find the best fit for your coding practice.  

Features we love:

  • Collaborative coding
  • Autocomplete
  • Multiple panes
  • File system browser

IN CLOSING

Tools and apps are meant to support the creative process and take as much frustration out of work admin and chores as possible. We hope that this list helps you pick the tools to boost your productivity and make work more fun!

Get in touch with your creative wing

The dreaded creative block! We’ve all been there.

Designers and illustrators experience moments where it seems like there’s no new, fresh way to solve a design problem.

At Pepperplane we’ve discovered a few effective tips and tricks to help get through a creative dry spell.

Let’s look at a few common “creativity killer” topics and how to overcome them:

  1. Pressure
  2. Tunnel vision
  3. Research
  4. Inspiration

1. Overcoming creative pressure

We all know the sinking feeling of a looming deadline and a blank page, when all you can think about is that dreaded date moving closer and closer.

Multiple causes can contribute to creative pressure, such as:

  • Procrastination
  • Tight deadlines
  • Overwhelming workload
  • Intimidating project or client

The power lies with you to be prepared, plan ahead, do your research, and tackle the project with full force. Follow that old adage “eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

Our tips:

  • Schedule time to think. Book out your diary so you can calmly consider, and reflect on, the work at hand. 
  • Plan ahead. Each project needs your full and undivided attention. If the project is flexible, discuss the deadline with your client. We’re sure they’d appreciate your honesty and openness. 
  • Divide and conquer. Try not to have too much on your plate at the start. Give yourself time to break the workload into manageable chunks so you can tackle each task in a productive manner.
  • Write it down. Lists sound old-fashioned but they’re definitely effective. Plot it out in order of priority so you can build the solution one block at a time.
  • Get started asap. The sooner you start activating those creative juices, the better. 
  • Communicate and update. Keep your clients in the know and track your progress with them. This will help you set goals and meet expectations while building more trust.

2. Solving those tunnel-vision moments

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut if all your attention is focused on one constant. Creatives need to spread their wings, explore different design alleys, escape their comfort zones and look beyond the task in front of them. It’s also easy to fall into the tunnel-vision trap if your work tends to centre around repetitively completing the same type of tasks.

At Pepperplane we work on a lot of branding and website design. It’s an ongoing practice to consciously make every project and every design piece 100% unique. Avoid becoming a cookie-cutter designer that defaults to applying the latest trends to every design. Create your own trends!

Our tips:

  • Spread your wings. Look beyond the problem at hand as much as you can. Turn the page around and create other paths to solve the problem. There are loads of different streets and routes to get to the candy shop. 
  • Find your design edge. Avoid getting stuck on generic solutions, dig a bit deeper to find that unique design edge. Creating your own solutions will ensure your project is one-of-a-kind.
  • Carve your own design path. Create your own style and trends. That’s the fun part!

3. Doing thorough research

Taking the next step can be risky and frightening if you have no idea what you’re about to step into. Getting started on a project without knowing where the end is or how to achieve the goal can lead to an instant creativity block. Research and planning are the best ways to side-step this predicament. The more you know the more ammunition you have to fight the problem and find the solution. Knowledge is key. 

Our tips:

  • Get searching. Investigate what and whom you are designing for. Gather as much information on the subject, client, and problem as possible. 
  • Get exploring. Try different research methods:
    • Have interviews and discussions with the target audience.
    • Set up questionnaires.
    • Create product mockups and test them with the end users. 
  • Facts and figures. Collect and showcase the data to support your work. There’s nothing as valuable and solid as numbers and statistics. 
  • Plot the way forward. Make connections between your gathered information to start building and planning the best route towards the design solution.  

Finding creative inspiration

The internet is a wonderful platform with endless possibilities and magical probabilities, the key is to make use of it wisely. The outcome of a quick Google image search usually showcases the most clichéd and overused results. It’s easy to simply imitate a style or layout when under pressure. Don’t be caught in the copy/paste trap, maintain the practice to make each design piece 100% unique. 

Our tips:

  • Look around. Find an alternative source of inspiration. Grab that pen and paper and head out to a new environment. New surroundings can do wonders to spark fresh design ideas.
  • Sketch away. Step away from the screen for a while and draw hundreds of small, quick sketches or layouts. Once you think you have a winner, make 50 more sketches.
  • Sleep on it. It’s the best way to give your thinking some space and switch your brain into that creative gear the next day.

In closing

Creative blocks can be overcome. Try not to get too bogged down and stressed about them as that tends to make them last longer. Take a break, come back to the problem with a fresh mindset and you’ll soon find your flow.

Get in touch with your creative wing