Who amongst us doesn’t know that moment of pure joy when you discover a brand new, life-hacking Chrome extension that seems to have been invented just to save you time, bring you inspiration, or improve the quality of your work. In this post (part one of two) we bring you some of our favorite extensions for UX designers, planners, and enthusiasts. For simplicity’s sake, we’ve taken the extensive list of awesome add-ons and divided them into a number of categories. From add-ons that deal with basic design functions to plugins that will inspire you, to practical extensions to help you create wireframes, we’re on it and excited to share our chrome extension faves with you. Enjoy.
Files On Files
One of the most useful extensions is Pushbullet, which allows you to easily transfer files between devices. Unlike the other file sharing/transfer solutions available (think Gmail, Google Drive, Dropbox, Hangouts, etc), Pushbullet does not shrink or distort the file. Ever send someone something on Facebook Messenger just so you could remember it at home and open it later? OK, so this is that. It just works better.
Next up in the category of fast file access, Quick Search For Google Drive is one of the most useful extensions we’ve found of late. This extension allows you to shortcut search for files by typing the name/keywords into the internet search bar, while also saving your login to the drive itself, and can lead instantly to the specific file you are searching for–granted you can remember the exact file name.
Pushbullet – Transmit screenshots quickly and easily, without compromising quality
Identifying Colors, Text, and Fonts
As designers, we often find it useful to check design elements on existing web pages as a way to learn from existing designs and trends, or as a way to check on our own designs that are already under development. We’ve found quite a few add-ons that can help to check a range of design elements. Our top picks: For color identification, we love Colorpick Eyedropper or ColorZilla, both extensions not only identify the exact color but also quickly copy its code to use in other software. WhatFont is a similar add-on that identifies the “font” used in websites, and lets you know about various aspects such as weight and exact size.
The final extension in this category, Project Naptha, helps us avoid wasting our designers’ time and energy retyping text within visual files by automatically extracting text. It’s the kind of extension you don’t need until you really need it, and then it can save you hours and hours of mindless work. So, next time you receive a screenshot of an “old” site, and you need to extract the text for the new site well… you’re welcome, it’s been our pleasure.
Love the font Wired used? With just a click it too can be yours
The Search For Inspiration and Graphic References
How much of our day is spent searching for the right references for a specific icon, cracking a complicated system, or finding new channels for inspiration and brainstorming? In an industry that changes rapidly and fluidly we as designers, researchers, and UX architects spend a significant effort keeping our hands on the pulse of the significant innovations and trends of our profession.
In order to keep an eye on interesting, relevant, and quality revelations in the world of tech, design, art, and UX every chrome tab we open defaults to Muz.li. Muz.li gathers a full list of inspirational and interesting articles and content every morning, somehow managing to be both comprehensive and surprising. It features everything you need to stay updated, from experimental typography to templates, aesthetics, articles, and free fonts chosen by the editors.
Also in the “inspirational plugins” category, Panda, gathers relevant references and content on your chrome homepage but does so with more attention to specific interests. Where Muz.li is more broad tool helpful for designers, strategists, and UX architects alike, Panda has more targeted content. It’s a fun, must-have aide for designers everywhere.
Moving past the collection of inspiration, we often find ourselves mucked down in a task or item-oriented research. Whether we’re studying for the design, planning, or strategy of a new product, many hours will be spent searching for relevant material on the internet. The following three add-ons significantly help optimize the search and research experience. Dribble, yes we know it’s not actually an extension, is an integral part of our day-to-day as designers and UX planners. The problem with Dribble being that the search function is limited and does not allow us to see small details in the search results.
Dribble HD and Booom are useful tools to enlarge pictures from Dribble so that we can look at them more conveniently and clearly. When we search for information, concepts, or want to dive deeper into the content, methods, and theories, Wikipedia is a good first stop. However, Wikipedia, while extremely useful, is a very text heavy site that can be difficult to read and decipher. WikiWand makes Wikipedia more visually pleasing, and easier to read by cleaning the interface and making it as readable as a medium blog post.
It’s easier to pay attention to the details of Dribble works with Boom
Heuristics and Wireframes: Planners, This One’s For You ♥
One of the core skills needed to be a UX Planner is the construction and design of wireframes for sites, apps, and systems. Especially as you’re just starting out as an UX planner, it is important to study the basic structures of sites and systems as much as possible, in order to assimilate and study various structures and gather tools to apply throughout their career. The best tool to do this? Instant Wireframe is a plugin that simplifies each site to the level of a wireframe so you can study the makeup of the site without the bother of the content and design elements. Meanwhile, the extension TextMode helps remove distractions by preserving only the text elements on the page.
In addition, every time we build a system or interface we strive to keep Nielsen’s 10 Heuristics in mind, in order to create a usable, convenient, and efficient system. UXCheck is a great tool that makes it easy to implement the various heuristics in our day to day work. This extension helps you to perform a heuristic evaluation of your site, easily exposing important issues by creating an interface that allows you to make notes and insights based on the different heuristics and the different elements of the page.
TextMode forces you to pay attention and analyze the choices made by the designers and planners who built the site
So, get going! Start exploring our favorite UX Chrome extensions, and tell us how it goes.
Do you have more add-ons for designers or planners? Let us know in the comments!
Want to read more? Check out part two here
Good Luck 😉