Drag + drop

Maggie Tang of Ableton talks us through how a new breed of design applications are making prototyping and visualising designs easier than ever.    

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It’s 1am. Twelve hours until pitch time. We’re busting our brains, eyes and hands to hatch up the best pitch presentation that time and talent will allow. Strategy and concept are done. Now, we need to make it work, visualise the creative: it needs to look real. Print, online, interactive – indoor, outdoor, devices galore: all aboard the train to mock-up city. Export design. Image search. Drop in design – it looks a bit off. Wait. Maybe it’s the creative concept… Facepalm. Ten hours to go.

That was 2006 and a few subsequent years to follow. Minutes, days, hours and – dare I say it – maybe even years all spent scamping and comping, deep-etching and lassoing, drop-shadowing and magic-wanding.

Fast forward to 2015 and cue Scenery, a desktop app that allows you to drag and drop designs straight into some pretty context template mock-ups. In a matter of minutes, nay seconds, you can see how awesome or rubbish the design looks in every single image available in their entire library.

Now roll in Napkin. With a few taps, drags and drops, you can add and manipulate colour, type, shapes, icons and photos across multiple layers to sketch out interactive app concepts directly on your phone, pronto. It’s a mobile app that lets you design mobile apps or, as I like to call it, app-ception.

Then of course there’s LiveSurface Context. The veteran amongst these, the app and Illustrator plug-in enables designers to render concepts into various application mock-ups in real time as they are being designed.

What I find most interesting and impressive about these apps and others of their kind is the extent to which they have changed the game, or at least my game. My perception of creativity and workflow has taken a turn in that the quality and usability of these new templates and tools has given me the gift of time: more time to think and better assets to work with. To me it’s about smart design and ultimately it’s up to me to decide when is best to render or when I should run with the real.

Mock n’ roll baby, it’s pitch time. And while you’re there, drag and drop it like it’s hot.

Twitter: @mmctang