updated: MAY 2018

Things I Use

A complete list of tools, courses and hardware I use

Over the years I've gone through my fair share of hardware, software and other learning tools and resources. In an effort to keep track of what I use, this page is an effort to document the things I'm using or have used and recommend in the past.

Just a note that some of the links on this page are affiliate links*. This means I get a small commission if you decide to purchase it. Everything listed here I actually use on a regular basis and I'd never recommend something I don't personally use and enjoy!

At my desk
Laptop

I've been using Apple computers since 2007 and have always found that they fit my needs well. For almost ten years I've been using MacBook Pro, often replacing it every three years or so. However lately I found that I wasn't using my laptop itself much (as I often work plugged in to an external screen), and that in cases where I was using my laptop, I was either travelling, on the couch, in bed or at a cafe.

Because of this I decided to buy the Space Grey, 12" MacBook*, complete with 1.4-GHz processor, 512GB SSD and 16GB memory. I love how light, small and nimble this laptop is. I can easily throw it into a small backpack and I don't even notice the weight.

I use this computer mostly for writing articles, checking email, recording podcasts, editing photos and the occasional design work.

Mouse

I've been a regular user of the Apple Mouse for years. Last year however I found I was having wrist cramps and suffering from shaky hands. I decided to try a more ergonomic mouse to see if that would make a difference. After looking around I decided to buy the Logitech MX Master*.

This is the best mouse I have ever used. I was worried about having to give up my gestures when moving away from the Apple Mouse, but the Logitech lets you configure them yourself and add more. At first the mouse felt odd to hold, but I soon got used to it and have appreciated the difference it's made. I use this mouse both at work and home and travel with it everywhere.

Keyboard

I just recently moved to using the wireless Apple Magic Keyboard* (not pictured). I was previously using the older version, and had also tried using the one with a numpad for a while however found my mouse kept banging into it as it was too wide. I love the length of the shorter one and like that it uses USB-C to charge.

Keyboard Mat

I currently have a fairly hollow IKEA desk, which means that typing on my keyboard can be noisy, and moving my mouse can give me the same chills as nails down a chalkboard.

To combat this I bought two Sharkoon Keyboard Mats*. These mats are perfect for underneath your keyboard or using as a mouse pat. The only downside is they do collect a bit of dirt, however a quick cloth wipe cleans them up pretty good.

Screen

I've been a big fan of Dell Desktop displays for years. When I moved to The Netherlands and had to get a new screen, I knew I wanted a Dell. I bought a Dell Ultrasharp U2515H* and love the resolution. I love that there is no border around most of the screen so the it bleeds almost to the edge. The controls are good and it comes with a USB port out the back which it also useful.

Phone Stand

When designing for mobile it's imperative that I test my designs on the actual device. This Rain Design* stand holds both my Pixel and test iPhone perfectly, allowing for both to be charged while resting in the dock.

The only down side is that I can't easily unlock my Pixel phone (as the sensor is on the back), however it still fits well.

Bullet Journal

I'd long been using checklists and to-do lists as a way to get tasks done, but I found that they'd be endless long lists and was struggling to prioritise and categorise my tasks. In early 2017 a friend gifted me the The Bullet Journal Notebook (Leuchtturm 1917) and I've been using it nearly every day since.

My bullet journal is dotted and I find it perfect for dotting and crossing off items, as well as making long lists and planning spreads.

Muji Pens

A designer always needs a good set of pens! My personal favourite are the Muji gel ink pens*. They come in several colours and weights – I've been using the 0.38 weight which is quite thin.

Blue Yeti Microphone

I sit down to record an episode of Design Life at least once a week, so it's important that I have a good microphone! The Blue Yeti* is fairly inexpensive and works well as a solo microphone. I purchased the DragonPad Pop filter to go with it and it works a charm.

On my ears
Over-ears

A few years ago I was gifted a pair of Logitech UE 6000 Headphones (discontinued). At the time they were leading the way in sound. However, four years on they weren't quite doing the job anymore. The noise-cancelling was poor, I was tired of having a cable and they'd worn out quite a bit.

On the market for a new pair of bluetooth headphones, I had a few friends who were raving about the SONY WH-1000XM2 wireless headphones*. I gave it a try in a noisy office and was blown away. Instantly I purchased I pair.

The downside of these headphones is that sometimes the Bluetooth can be finicky, so I've had a few awkward moments where my music starts blasting out loud in the office. The other downside is that the charger isn't USB-C(!). Alas, these headphones still deliver excellent quality sounds and I recommend them to anyone.

In-ears

As someone who commutes via bike, I quickly got tired of having cables wrapping around my body, extending to my backpack or basket and hanging in the way.

My partner Owen had some BeatsX* and raved about them. I tried them out and decided to get a pair of my own. These headphones are great for exercising, riding your bike or making phone calls. I use them every day during my commute and also for meetings or phone calls with my family.

The battery doesn't last too long, however on the flip side it charges rapidly. I only need to put it on charge for 5-10 minutes and I'm good to go for hours.

In my dock
Figma

I started using the design tool Figma in 2017 and love it for collaboration and high fidelity screen design.

Figma is my current screen-design tool of choice that I recommend to anyone looking for a visual design tool.

The collaboration features of Figma are killer, allowing you to work simultaneously in design files, collect feedback from stakeholders and access an always up-to-date team library.

Webflow

When I was searching for a website-builder tool, I was looking for something that allowed freedom and a lot of customisation. I'd long felt restricted by the themes and limitations of Squarespace, and was looking for something that gave me more control and the ability to implement my own designs with more precision.

After hearing about it from some friends I started using Webflow* and absolutely love it. The visual editor distills code into an easy to understand interface, and gives you complete freedom and autonomy to bring your own designs to life.

No longer do I feel restricted by templates and setting limitations. Webflow gives me all the power I need to create and customise my own website.

MailerLite

Finding an inexpensive but quality email marketing software is a challenge. I decided to go with MailerLite* because I like it's simplicity and feature set. You can create automations, segments, forms and more. The visual editor is nice to use and I love the way the emails format and are presented on the client side.

Flux

Seriously, you need this tool! Flux auto-adjusts the brightness and tone of your screen depending on the time of day. This means that when I groggily arrive at my desk (sometimes) at 6am my eyes aren't burnt by white light and over-brightness. It gradually adjusts over time to protects your eyes and is said to help you sleep better if you've just had screen time before bed.

Typora

Typora is my current writing tool of choice. What I love about Typora is not only that it's markdown, but I can also change the theme. Normally I don't care much about light or dark modes, but as my writing often happens in the early morning I appreciate the dark mode and being able to write in full screen with zero distractions.

Sip

I'm frequently using the same colours and find Sip a neat little tool that helps you collect and save colours and palettes. It sits in your toolbar which means it's always accessible and you can quickly 'pick' colours from your screen with just a click.

Often in my backpack
Powerbank

I use the Anker PowerCore+ 20100mAh* USB-C for remote charging. While heavy and large, this power bank charges not on my phone and headphones, but also can fully charge my MacBook – multiple times!

Phone

In September 2017 I decided I was bored of the iPhone. Having used iOS for the previous five or so years, I was craving a new OS and getting frustrated with the limitations of iPhone. I was no longer impressed with what Apple was releasing and wanted to try something new.

Finding myself in San Francisco during Google I/O I ended up buying a Google Pixel2* and love it. This phone takes extraordinary photos and syncs perfectly with all my Google Apps. No complaints.

Kindle

While I'm not a fiction reading, I enjoy the occasional non-fiction read in my balcony on the sun or just before bed. I'd previously been using an iPad Mini for reading but found it provided a pretty poor reading experience. I currently have the black Kindle* e-reader and love the size and battery life. Easy to chuck in a backpack and take travelling.

Tablet

I'd been using the iPad Mini for several years mostly for watching media or reading (before I got a Kindle). A few of my friends purchased the iPad Pro for illustration and design work, and after borrowing one from a friend for a week I fell in love with Procreate and the Apple Pencil.

So, currently I have the 12" iPad Pro* (Black) and Apple Pencil*. The Pencil connects well, but I find it impossible to know how much battery it has and when it's charged. There's no light or indicator which can make it a bit of a guessing game.

The iPad Pro itself is beautiful to use. The screen, while large at first is the perfect size if using for drawing or illustration, and it still feels small enough to use in bed for media without it being over-bearing.

Backpack

I'm always on the look-out for a good backpack, especially one that can withstand the weather when I'm cycling to and from work. I decided to buy the Timbuk2 Division Pack in Fog as it has high water resistance. This bag has been great on those rainy days as the water just runs right off it. The dedicated laptop sleeve fits my 15" work laptop nice and snug and the extra pockets and space can easily fit my yoga gear and shoes.

Hanging on my walls
Mark Conlan Illustration

I love the juxtaposition of Mark Conlan's illustrations. His work almost always involves a reference to nature, and I find it fascinating how he contrasts it with a human element. I have the Unexpected Discoveries 4 in my dining room and love the colours.

Frederique Matti

Frederique is one of my favourite illustrators. Her pastel colour palette and expressionless people somehow evoke so much emotion. I love that Frederique shows a lot that goes into the process of creating an illustration, and admire her craft.

In my library
Treehouse

If you're looking to learn how to code, Treehouse* provides fantastic courses and walkthroughs. I started using Treehouse in 2017 when I wanted to dive deeper into HTML, Javascript and CSS. The pace of the lessons are just right and there's a whole community of people you can seek help from.

The Creative Class

If you work with clients and are looking for advice on managing clients, getting feedback, pricing projects and running a business then The Creative Class* is for you. Run by Paul Jarvis, I took this class and graduated with so much knowledge and ideas to implement into my (at the time) freelance business. Highly recommended for all freelancers and especially creatives!

CharliMarieTV

Charli is a web and graphic designer from New Zealand currently living in London. She posts design videos every Saturday on CharliMarieTV about tools, projects, and concepts, and vlogs every Tuesday about her life as a designer. Definitely worth a subscribe.

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