Here at Looka, it’s our mission to make design delightful and accessible for everyone — and we want you to meet the people working hard behind the scenes to make that happen.
In this post, our talented team of designers, developers, and data scientists share the tools they love most and where they go for inspiration. (p.s. Our team is growing fast, so not everyone is included here!)
(Pictured from L to R: Jose, Lauren, Jake, Kaejon, Andrew, Cameron, Mike, Mahsa, Heather, Ysabel)
Jose Bento, Senior UI/UX Designer
“Sketch is the perfect tool for creating a UI — it’s easy to use, has lots of great plugins, and really speeds up my workflow.
InVision is a great tool for collaborating and getting feedback. You can create clickable prototypes without having to write code. It’s a simple way to get a proof of concept and integrates well with Sketch.
For all my vector work, I use Illustrator — I believe it’s the most robust vector drawing application. And when I’m working on micro-interactions and animations, Principle is super easy to use, integrates with Sketch, and allows me to work quickly.
Lauren Greenway, Developer
“I’m pretty big into not having to touch my mouse so I have all kinds of custom keyboard shortcuts configured on my computer. Most notably I use a program called Spectacle that lets you easily record keyboard shortcuts that resize and align multiple windows precisely. I’ve installed it on every computer I’ve touched in the past year because I can’t live without it. Honourable mention goes to prettier, which autoformats your code on save.
I subscribe to — and genuinely look forward to — Val Head’s UI Animation newsletter. It’s a weekly roundup of rad codepens, beautifully considered sites, and relevant articles. 13/10 would recommend.”
Jake Deichert, Developer
“Insomnia is an open source HTTP and GraphQL client. I use it daily to test our Golang REST endpoints and GraphQL mutations/queries.
Template tags are probably my favourite feature of Insomnia. They can hook into the request and response lifecycle, allowing you to chain requests together. I actually created my own custom template tag plugin, which applies a special transformation to one of our requests so that I don’t have to do any extra manual labour!
I also love Bash scripts and aliases. When I realize that I run a certain command a lot, it immediately becomes an alias. For more complex tasks, I usually add them as scripts to a little Bash CLI of mine. Some commands I have include database backup and restoration, cache flushing, VS Code settings backup, and service management. Basically, if a manual task can be abstracted away or automated, I will make it so!
Lastly, I use Docker a lot. I have a bunch of Docker-related aliases, and many of my Bash scripts rely on Docker as well. It’s great for running things locally without the hassle of installing, configuring, and managing runtime environments. Being able to describe your app in a readable format and having the confidence that it will run anywhere it’s deployed is very empowering.
For inspiration, I like Indie Hackers — it’s a great place to read about the accomplishments and failures of startups and entrepreneurs. I also check out the newly launched products every few days on Product Hunt.”
Kaejon Misuraca, Designer
“I love Pikka – Color Picker because I can quickly get the color code for any color on my screen with one simple keyboard shortcut. Every color I source gets put into my color library; this makes it very easy for me to create color libraries for individual design projects.
I also love BetterSnapTool because you can quickly snap your windows to full size, half the screen, or even quarters of the screen. I love maximizing my window space, and this tool allows me to do that quickly with little to no effort — I definitely recommend it, especially if you find yourself always resizing your windows for a better workflow.
For inspiration, I go to Instagram and Pinterest. Both of these platforms have many great ideas and inspiration, not just for designers but all creatives.
A recent piece of work I saw on Instagram was the American Express rebrand by Pentagram. This piece got me really excited because the rebrand was done so well. There were only minor tweaks done to the logo, but these minor tweaks made a huge difference. That’s what I think design is all about — the little things.”
Andrew Martin, Lead Data Scientist
“I use Python for most data analysis and machine learning, but I’ve used other languages like Julia and R for specialized tasks. I like the text editor Vim, though I’ve recently made the switch to VS Code.
I use TensorFlow a ton — it’s a library for machine learning and specifically for building neural networks. Keras, which sits on top of TensorFlow, is great for prototyping and testing out ideas. Then there are all sorts of amazing Python libraries that come up all the time, like Numpy, Scikit-learn, and Pandas.
For machine learning research, I go to Google Scholar and search topic-wise or go through a recent paper’s citation list, which is a super nerdy way to look up new stuff. With machine learning, the research cycle is so short — someone gets something new working, and they publish it right away, make a demo, and put it on Github. It’s an interactive and exciting release process where you can see the field advance almost weekly.”
Cameron Monagle, Developer
“I run on elementary OS, which is a Linux distribution, and I do most of my coding in VS Code. I used to work with Atom, but I found that performance-wise and with the extensions available, VS Code helps me work faster and better. For graphics work, I use Inkscape.
Otherwise, for tools, it’s pretty limited — as a front-end developer, it’s a lot of command-line tools and not too much else.
Mike Bell, Developer
“Trello is my go-to for personal project management. I say personal because as a team, we use Asana, but I find Trello useful for keeping small tasks on track. It helps me visualize where things are and what needs to be done.
Sketch is great for designing layouts for screens of all sizes. I like the interface, and there are a ton of third-party plugins for just about anything you need. As someone who used Adobe products strictly for over 13 years, I was skeptical at first, but I found switching pretty easy.
The price made it appealing, and being able to have multiple artboards at different sizes without it completely crashing was a plus. It’s a great mix of Photoshop and Illustrator, raster and vector. They changed the game a few years back, and Adobe is only starting to catch up.
I use Illustrator for creating icons or more complex vector graphics. And, of course, anything needed for print. Illustrator still rules at creating amazing vectors, and I feel like I can make anything with it.
I use a Chrome extension called Muzli that provides some pretty great overall inspiration. If I’m looking for something specific, I’ll head over to Dribbble, UpLabs, or UI Movement.”
Mahsa Rahimi, Data Scientist
For learning about machine algorithms, I end up Googling a lot and reading articles on Medium, or arXiv papers for more advanced subjects. Some YouTube tutorials are great, too — Andrew Ng, who’s also a co-founder of Coursera, has good videos about machine learning. For my more basic coding needs, like Python, I really like the Sentdex channel.”
Heather Pierce, Developer
“I love VS Code and Slack. Both tools have a sleek design, are super user-friendly, and have come to replace chunkier tools that were pretty common in my toolkit (Sublime Text and Skype/any other instant messenger).
I also love Unsplash for general aesthetic inspiration and photography (and a good land- or cityscape photo to start of my morning). For code-related inspiration, I follow a lot of developers on Twitter, listen to the Syntax FM podcast, and subscribe to the CodePen newsletter.”
Ysabel Enverga, Designer
“My absolute favourite tools are Illustrator and Photoshop. Illustrator is perfect for creating graphics and making precise lines. Since the tool uses vectors, you can scale your art to any size for all sorts of formats! It’s a great tool to create a clean and final product. It’s also easy to use for sketching and getting ideas down on multiple artboards.
Photoshop allows for more organic art with its various paint brushes. It might not be the best for graphic illustrations, icon design, or typography, but it’s great to use for photography and computer painting with the ability to add textures and layers. Sometimes I’ll combine the two tools to create clean graphics that also have depth and textures.
One of my favourite sites for ideas and inspiration is Dribbble. I have a Google Chrome extension called Panda that automatically shows a feed of designers’ work on Dribbble. I love that the first thing I see when I open my browser is a collection of really great work and tons of inspiration.
Panda also allows me to easily scroll through amazing work on Behance, Awwwards, and more — work that gets me especially excited is clean, cute, colorful, and animated!”
Interested in joining Looka’s product or data team? See our open positions here.