Improving App settings UX

Next-generation UI Tools

Since the initial iteration of Adobe Photoshop, which was meant for photo retouching rather than building dynamic user interfaces, UI design tools have gone a long way. Today’s tools, such as Adobe XD, Figma, and Sketch, have made jobs easier and faster.

It’s time for a new generation of user interface tools.

  1. Blending Design and Code

Future user interface tools will combine design and programming to provide designers and developers with a more seamless experience. 

Our current tools do not assist us in designing web UIs; rather, they assist us in designing abstract representations of web UIs. Mock-ups created in Figma and Sketch are separated from the original code.Many designers today understand the fundamentals of HTML and CSS. Some purists design in code, but this is ineffective for complicated projects; designers must be able to swiftly examine a proof of concept before committing to it.

Visual Studio Code is a tool for software developers that combines code editing and development and allows engineers to create, test, and debug code all in the same environment. Designers, too, require a visual-development environment that gives complete design capabilities while still producing production-ready code.

2. Designer/Developer Handoffs Will Be Replaced by Parallel Creation

There is an excessive amount of back-and-forth between designers and developers, particularly during the handoff process. Handoff can be so time-consuming and laborious in some circumstances that the quality of work degrades. Developers will no longer be solely responsible for creating UIs, thanks to next-generation design tools that interact with the source code. Instead, they will be free to concentrate on designing the logical architecture that connects a product’s user interface to its back end and allows it to function effectively.

Designers will set the groundwork for UIs with code baked in, and developers will build on this code to bring goods to life. Designers will no longer have to bug developers with requests like, “Please add 16 px of padding instead of 8 px, as seen in the mock-up.”

3. Design UI Tools and Developer Software Will Work Together

To generate design components, current tools rely on custom programming models. These models are typically less robust than CSS and do not allow designers to see the auto-generated code that underpins their design files—code that must eventually be converted to HTML, CSS, or JavaScript. It would be far easier if our tools supported HTML and CSS natively.

CSS, for example, employs the box model, which calls for arranging HTML elements on each page within a box with code defining its height, width, border, and padding. With its auto-layout tool, Figma gets close to giving this capability. However, if Figma adopted the box model, which is already used by the majority of online UIs, developers would need to translate and export less.

4. Mock-ups Will Be Extirpated

Mock-ups leave too many unsolved questions. It is impossible to create one for every digital environment. Designers now create layouts for screen sizes of 320 px, 834 px, and 1440 px; however, what happens if a section of the layout fails on a 1220 px viewport? And why not optimize for 375 px, which is the standard size for today’s larger phones?

Creating an artboard for each scenario is impractical, especially when all breakpoints and perspectives are taken into account, not to mention dark themes. Designing for all of these variables significantly increases the number of artboards. Mock-ups are sometimes a waste of time and money. They take a long to construct and have fallen out of favor in digital product design.

All System States Will Be Taken Into Account All digital products have states that correspond to what they are doing at any given time, such as halting during loading or showing an error message.

Every state must be addressed, yet current UI technologies delegate this responsibility to designers, forcing them to produce multiple variants of a single component. Developers may simply adjust for all possible states of a component using the development technologies React and Vue.js. Design tools must follow suit, encouraging—nay, nagging—designers to guarantee that all component states are intended for.

5. Real Data Will Take the Place of Placeholder Content

Designers not only construct components for many states, but they also design for a wide range of data. UI designers must be able to test their components with the actual input—the copy, images, dates, names, titles, and other information that will eventually populate the components in their designs. Designers may now only simulate data by physically copying and pasting it into artboards, which is a time-consuming process. Some plugins can assist in automating this procedure, but they are time-consuming.

Asking developers to assess how components handle data is also not an option. It is too late to redesign components by the time they reach testing.

6. Edge-case Testing Will Be Made Simpler

Designers will be able to better predict edge cases when UI tools ultimately cater to all states and enable actual data testing. Designers will stress test a component’s many states, bombarding it with diverse data to evaluate how it works in different scenarios. As a result, the UI will become the realm of the designer, freeing developers to focus on tasks like repairing the JavaScript or testing the APIs.

7. A New World of Developer Tools and Third-Party Browser Extensions Will Be Available.

Once our work is in HTML and CSS, an entire ecosystem of extensions, such as the indispensable Lighthouse for performance, SEO, and accessibility audits, or the many browser developer tools that simulate device breakpoints and low network speeds, will become available during the design phase. The browser toolset is far more useful for generating and testing production-ready UIs than any of the Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD plugins.

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Author's Bio

Sunil Vallala

UX/UI Designer with hands on experience in building ideas from scratch with the core belief that design is a catalyst for change in any business.

Razor sharp skills in executing a broad range of projects

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Next-generation UI Tools

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