Why Markdown is a great design tool

Markdown is an incredibly flexible tool that’s part of my daily working practice. Almost everything I write digitally (including this post) starts in Markdown. It’s even influenced the way I write on paper. And all of my design work starts with some form of writing.

This post by John Gruber is a good intro to Markdown.

Markdown example

# Heading 1

## Heading 2

Paragraph with **bold** text.

- list item 1
- list item 2
- list item 3

Markdown helps me to…

  • take notes quickly (during meetings or user research sessions)
  • start designing something with a "content first" approach
  • focus on writing, instead of visual style
  • convert notes to HTML
  • write HTML quickly
  • learn HTML basics (like heading levels)
  • share my notes everywhere (Markdown is just plain text, so it works everywhere)
  • write blog posts (it’s compatible with lots of blogging tools, like Eleventy)
  • write formatted notes in lots of apps, like Slack, GitHub, Trello (although the different flavours of Markdown can be annoying)

It’s even compatible with this lo-fi prototyping method that Andrew Duckworth has written about (thanks to Joe Lanman for sharing that recently).

Tools for writing Markdown

My favourite is iA Writer. It’s been a part of my design toolbox for over 10 years. but any code editor or plain text writing tool will do.