Our Team’s Take on the Best Digital Design Tools

Last Updated on March 2, 2022

It’s been said that you’re only as good as the tools you use. At USDP, we know that having the right software or application to get the job done is a big part of any project! 

Ready to get the insider scoop on how the USDPeeps are able to work their design magic? Today, we’re asking each team member to name the tool they couldn’t live without.


The Tools We Use for Digital Design, Imaging, Editing, And More


The number one tool our designers use for website projects is Sketch. While similar to other great products on the market we sometimes use (like Adobe XD and Figma), our teams have been using this design frontrunner product to seamlessly build out designs and hand off elements to developers. With the ability to create grid layouts, preset web-friendly artboards, and pixel-perfect designs, we are truly set up for success using this tool.

Kayla, Senior Interactive Designer


When it comes to prototyping in a collaborative way, Invision works wonders. Designers are able to upload their design files to Invision, where they are displayed as if they were already built out on your device. Clients are able to imagine what the final product looks like while being able to add comments to the exact problem areas. And developers? They can get an idea of how the site will interact with hover effects and scrolling animations. 

Kayla, Senior Interactive Designer



Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard for vector art creation. Designers use it to create logos, page layouts, signage, type design, and many other assets that would be used across the lifecycle of a brand. It is an incredibly flexible app that helps artists conceptualize, visualize, and execute complex digital solutions. I personally use it as a “worksheet” and a digital sketchbook to put down ideas and then refine once I feel like I am on the right path. Using Illustrator allows the designer to work with vectors so you don’t degrade image quality as you scale up or down. It also allows you to export SVG’s (scalable vector graphics) to be used in our web development.   

John, Associate Creative Director



Figma is a fast, inexpensive (free for single-person teams) design and prototyping tool.  As a developer who doesn’t use design software very often, I find Figma simple to understand.  I’ve used Figma to share my functional and visual “vision” with designers to help transition from user experience strategy to visual and functional user experience.

Kevin, Technology Director



Adobe has two great tools for post-production: Premiere Pro as their industry-leading video editing software and After Effects as the powerhouse in motion graphics software. 

In Premiere Pro, you can edit any type of footage, whether from a professional camera or from your phone, and easily apply editing techniques such as: assembling and refining a sequence, color correction, adding transitions and effects, mixing audio, etc. 

In After Effects, you can create all kinds of visual effects, cinematic movie titles, intros, explosive effects, work with particles, and add keyframes and expressions. The sky’s the limit with this tool, but keep in mind it may not be the best choice for advanced 3D modeling and animation. 

Daniel, Associate Creative Director



In years past, Photoshop was the main tool for website and app design. One of the benefits of using Photoshop was the ability to edit images within your design. But that pro was also a con. Photoshop was originally meant just for photo editing. But over time, designers of all stripes found other uses. As features continued to be added by Adobe, the tool became a resource hog and bloated with too many features. Fast forward to today, and I rarely open Photoshop. I will typically use it for image editing or to update older design files. While I still consider it a great tool for a number of uses, I prefer to design mainly in other tools (Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD) that were primarily built just for digital design.

Joe, Creative Director

Budget-friendly Digital Design Tools

At USDP, we know that there’s a time to splurge and a time to save. Depending on the goals of a specific project, selecting a low-cost alternative may be the way to go.



Canva is a free design tool alternative for social media graphics, presentations, invitations, posters, brochures, business cards, etc. Some of the editable features include images, illustrations, fonts, professional templates, stickers, and animations. While some features and edits may be limited by the free vs paid version, there’s still plenty in Canva that makes it a powerhouse design tool for organizations on a budget!

Emily, Interactive Designer



Vecteezy is a platform that offers millions of free vector graphics and stock images, adding new content every day and providing some decent, high-quality freebies. There is a paid version as well, but you can find a lot of great content on the free plan. 

Emily, Interactive Designer



Pixabay, Unsplash, and Pexels are great resources for a wide variety of options for free photography, video, and music. In general, media from these sites can safely be copied, modified, distributed, and used even for commercial purposes, all without asking for permission or giving credit to the artists. One con is that the breadth of options is more limited than a site like iStock, but we still love using these when working with our smaller or non-profit clients! 

Emily, Interactive Designer


Your Turn

Are there any tools that YOU use to make great ideas happen? Did any of our recommendations surprise you? If you’re ready to invest in top-tier digital marketing efforts for your business, you can be 100% confident that USDP will use every tool at our disposal to make magic happen for you! 

Reach out to our friendly team today to learn more about what’s possible. We look forward to hearing from you!