The Gear

This is the hardware and software I use while designing and developing products.

Hardware

2021 Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro Illustration

2021 Apple 14-inch MacBook Pro

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Configuration:

  • M1 Pro Processor (10-core CPU, 16-core GPU)
  • 32GB Memory
  • 1TB Storage

Purchased by my employer for me, this MacBook Pro is my work computer for my full-time job at UserEvidence.

2020 Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro Illustration

2020 Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro

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Configuration:

  • 2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5 Processor
  • 32GB Memory (3733 MHz, LPDDR4X)
  • 512GB Storage

This is my current computer for personal and freelance projects.

Acer Chromebook R11 Illustration

Acer Chromebook R11

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Configuration:

  • 1.6 GHz Quad-Core Intel Celeron N3150 Processor
  • 4GB Memory (1600 MHz, DDR3L)
  • 32GB Storage

Originally purchased with the intention of being an air-gapped, cold storage wallet for cryptocurrency, I now use this Chromebook for responsive UI and performance tests. The limited specifications make it more representative of an average consumer, and ideal for ensuring users aren't encountering poor experiences. Plus, the 2-in-1 tablet functionality makes it a nice, dual-purpose device. The R11 is an older model now, but there are updates from Acer that look to have even more features, such as the Spin 3.

2015 Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro Illustration

2015 Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro

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Configuration:

  • 2.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 Processor
  • 16GB Memory (1600 MHz, DDR3L)
  • 256GB Storage

This was my primary work computer for several years, but, since purchasing the 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro, has since been designated as a test/backup computer.

LG 27UD68-W 27-inch 4K Monitor Illustration

LG 27UD68-W 27-inch 4K Monitor

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With great color accuracy and brightness for the price, this monitor has been a reliable daily tool for nearly 5 years, and has adequate input options. I'll likely upgrade to a larger monitor in the near future (this 42-inch 4K monitor has been on my radar for a little while), at which point I would use my current 27-inch 4K monitor as a secondary display.

Apple Magic Keyboard Illustration

Apple Magic Keyboard

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The battery life is much better than the older generation version of this keyboard, the size is excellent, and the key travel is nearly identical to my laptops, making switching between laptops and this keyboard seamless. While it's not the most cost-effective option, and I wish it had the same "upside-down T-shape arrow keys" as my laptops, (instead, it has the "equal size" left and right arrow keys), it's a great external keyboard.

Logitech MX Vertical Mouse

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I used a Logitech MX Master 2 for years, and while it's feature-packed, and very responsive, I was getting wrist discomfort after using it for long hours each day. Many swear by the latest MX Master 3, so that might be a better option for anyone looking for a more standard mouse orientation, but I've grown to love this ergonomic option. My wrist also thanks me.

Apple Magic Trackpad Illustration

Apple Magic Trackpad

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Yes, I use both a mouse and trackpad, together. I like using the mouse for standard navigation, but find the trackpad to be much faster for quickly zooming in/out and moving around Sketch, Figma, and Illustrator files. Swipe gestures are easily accessible, and having the trackpad directly to the left of my keyboard has been a welcome addition to the desk setup.

Universal Audio Apollo Twin Illustration

Universal Audio Apollo Twin

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I love listening to music while I work, and this audio interface provides crystal clear audio, with an onboard processor for handling the audio engine side of things, ensuring performance to run audio doesn't throttle the rest of the computer's tasks. I have the previous generation, Thunderbolt 2 version, and use the Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter to connect the Apollo to my 2020 MacBook Pro. It works perfectly, including keyboard shortcuts for changing volume/muting.

Yamaha HS8 Monitors Illustration

Yamaha HS8 Monitors

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Powered by the Universal Audio Apollo Twin Interface are these great reference monitors (a fancy term for neutral sounding speakers). While the neutral sound profile isn't for everyone, I really enjoy listening to a variety of genres through the HS8's. They have a few room control switches, so I can dial down or up the low-end, along with dropping a little bit of the top so nothing is too harsh-sounding. If you prefer smaller speakers, both the HS5 and HS7 variations of this speaker are very popular choices. On the other end, if you'd prefer even more bass to add to your HS8's, you can add the subwoofer to your setup.

Software

Design Applications

Available for:
  • macOS
  • Web
Figma

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A popular design tool these days, I've been using Figma more and more for design projects lately. While it hasn't quite caught on with larger companies, many small-to-medium sized businesses have been rapidly switching to Figma from Sketch, XD, and Photoshop in recent years. I especially like the real-time collaboration and commenting features, along with the ability to simply share a design file with anyone, directly from the application itself (as opposed to having to export, then upload a file somewhere, and then provide the link).

Available for:
  • macOS
  • Web
Nucleo Icons

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Though I've changed the primary design gear that I use for projects over the years, I've consistently used Nucleo Icons since 2015. This application simply works. Whenever I need to pull in an icon to a project, I'll open Nucleo, search and filter by size/style, then drag and drop the vector icon directly into my design tool. It's an incredible tool, and one that I'd recommend to any designer (as well as non-designers, who would just like to have an icon library always available). It's run by a great team, whoe consistently updates the icon library and app features. Though I will often make custom icons for a project, when I'm just starting a project, or if the client's budget doesn't allow for custom iconography, I love having a high quality icon library that I can easily use to add a level of detail to projects that can't be replicated by other icon libraries.

Available for:
  • macOS
  • Web
Sketch

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A product design tool that I had, prior to Figma, used for all products I designed. I still use Sketch for client projects that are being designed in Sketch, as well as for any project that benefits from P3 Color Space usage. Unfortunately, to date, Figma does not have support for the P3 Color Space (learn more about color management here), which limits access to a more vibrant color space than sRGB. Sketch is also particularly well-suited for leveraging Mac hardware, as it is a native macOS application (as opposed to web application "desktop" applications, that are web applications in desktop wrappers, such as Figma), which allows the GPU and CPU to provide additional hardware accelaration when necessary.

Available for:
  • macOS
Adobe Illustrator

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The first vector editing program I started using (back in 2013, wow, time flies), and one that I used exclusively for many years when creating illustrations, logos, and icons, I still find Illustrator to be the best tool for certain tasks. The Image Trace function is a particularly helpful feature, that allows you to take a bitmap image, and convert it into a vector image. Certain images work better than others, and I personally use this feature most commonly for creating vector versions of bitmap (PNG or JPG) format logos. Additionally, the ability to rotate copies of shapes and paths is great for easily creating vector patterns, which I can then export as SVG and use inside Figma, Sketch, or directly in the codebase of a product.

Design Plugins

I don't use a large number of design plugins, but I do use the following plugins quite often. They have proven themselves invaluable when creating digital products/designs.

Available for:
Stark

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When it comes to creating accessible designs that account for color contrast, impaired vision, and/or color blindness, I haven't found a better all-in-one tool than Stark. A great tool that just simply works, Stark is a plugin available for Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, and as a browser extension for Google Chrome, that allows you to easily find out the color contrast ratio between elements (like seeing if button text will stand out sufficiently against a button's background color), and check a vision simulator to see how your designs will appear to various users.

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SVGO Compressor

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When exporting SVG files from design applications, there is often additional, un-necessary lines of code included. In-and-of-itself, this extra code might not make a difference. However, when a project has multiple (sometimes dozens, or hundreds of) SVG files, these extra lines of code add up to larger-than-necessary asset file sizes. The SVGO Compressor for Sketch Plugin runs in the background, so anytime you export an SVG, you automatically get a minified format SVG, which makes it perfect for bringing directly into a web project, without any extra steps necessary to minify the file.

Available for:
Word Count

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When designing products that have variable length text sections, it's important to determine the maximum number of characters that will be allowed. Word Count for Figma makes it quick and easy to double-check the length of any particular text section, which is very helpful when denoting maximum character counts to developers.

Available for:
Context

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When designing products that have variable length text sections, it's important to determine the maximum number of characters that will be allowed. Context for Sketch makes it quick and easy to double-check the length of any particular text section, which is very helpful when denoting maximum character counts to developers.

Available for:
Easometric

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Drawing perspective illustrations in 2D design applications can be quite difficult without any kind of reference image/grid. Easometric allows you to easily take a shape, path, or even component in Figma, and adjust the perspective to be from different angles, making isometric presentations and illustrations much easier to create.

Available for:
Isometry

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Drawing perspective illustrations in 2D design applications can be quite difficult without any kind of reference image/grid. Isometry allows you to easily take a shape or path in Sketch, and adjust the perspective to be from different angles, making isometric presentations and illustrations much easier to create.

Disclaimer

Some of the links provided on this page are affiliate links. If you make a purchase from an affiliate link on this page, I might receive a commission for that purchase. I personally use and have purchased all products shown on this page (unless otherwise noted), and have not received any promotional, non-affiliate compensation to list any of the items on this page.

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