New design software comes out all the time, unfortunately, most of them trying to compete with adobe fail.
Sketch however, is one of the few exceptions to this rule. Our design team are passionate learners who live, eat and breathe Design in all forms, we know that staying up to date is important for our own development and for that of the Industry. So with that in mind, we’ve spent the last year trialing, testing and attempting to break Sketch and we’re happy to say that it’s been a resounding success. Before we go into why we love it so much, first a quick history lesson.
The mobile design process is inherited from print & it’s broken.
The core and originally intended function of Photoshop is image editing for print. Designing for web and mobile on Photoshop only became standard practice as there simply was nothing better available at the time. For us, and many other mobile designers, the Photoshop working model just no longer fit. Multiple UI screens across multiple layered files gets messy and the file size blows out. Photoshop has since introduced artboards and other cool features but overall the platform is still clunky and limited.
Attempting to address this problem, there’s been an explosion in the tools available for UI Design over the years. Products have come and gone, Fireworks was a good alternative while it lasted, new products have been released (Edge, Muse and a major update of Photoshop), remember Google Designer? We’ve trialed them all but none really captivated us enough for them to be a game changer in workflow.
That is until we discovered Sketch…. And here’s why:
It Makes our Designers Happy
Sketch was built by Designer’s for Designers. It’s efficient, allows viewing of a full workflow, & really easy to pick up.
Now more than ever prototyping has become an important tool for failing fast and proof of concept. Sketch allows direct integration with tools such as Invision and their own app, Sketch Mirror, enabling us to view every screen directly on our test devices. There’s also loads of resources out there as well, templates, plugins, tutorials and articles, the community around it is building strong.
It Makes our Developers Happy
Our developers at B2Cloud are a rare breed, they handle their own assets, I know right, that’s a dream for designers, however, it can also be a nightmare for them if our files are messy, and layer heavy. With Sketch, every screen is right In front of them from the beginning.
The most important factor to the Dev team is that assets are easy to access and export. No more sifting multiple layers and page concepts. Sketch is also 100% Vector, so all you need to to is select your export option, 1x, 2x, etc. This also means that assets can scale to any resolution without any manual resizing, avoiding ugly pixelation and artefacts.
The positive feedback we have had from our Dev team is really important. The deliverables a designer hands over to the dev team should make life easier, not harder, after all, we’re a team and in this together.
It Even Makes the Bean Counters Happy
It’s simple, cost & efficiency. Sketch is a fixed price product, there’s no ongoing subscription fee involved. And it’s improving the workflow and asset production between our designers and devs. This makes it really affordable for small companies and independent design and development professionals. Mix this with products like Affinity Designer and Pixelmator (for illustration and image editing) and, I dare say it….google docs (for documentation and pdf) and you have a cheaper, more efficient alternative to the status quo.
Room for Improvement
Ok, it sounds great, surely it can’t all be perfect? Well, no, there are still a few bugs and annoyances, but I’ve been using Sketch for the majority of UI work for the last 8 months and I haven’t looked back. I saw a tweet recently which perfectly sums up how we feel:
So Sketch, if you’re listening, if you want to go from amazing to perfect, here’s my wish list of improvements:
- Give us Windows support. Sketch is Mac only for now, so Devs who aren’t working on Mac still need assets cut up (which is time-consuming and annoying)
- Fix the Pen tool. I still find the pen tool quite frustrating. Editing existing illustrations can get awkward so I still create illustrations in Illustrator, and again import back.
- Fix Symbols & Groups. Editing still not as efficient as the symbols palette in illustrator.
Where to from here?
Now, don’t get me wrong, this article isn’t intended to knock the product that has allowed me an awesome career. I still love the Adobe creative suite & use Illustrator and Photoshop almost daily (I’m also particularly addicted to the shape feature in the Adobe capture iOS app) and the community they have built for the design world is priceless.
With that in mind, it’s pleasing to see that Adobe has been prodded into action. Having seen the increasing frustrations of UI Designers and the massive migration to Sketch and other alternatives, Adobe are finally releasing the hotly anticipated “Project Comet” later this year. A little competition is always healthy, it helps you learn and grow. So, as always, we’ll be watching developments closely and I’m really excited to see what Adobe can deliver.
If you’re interested in learning more about sketch, here are a few sites to check out:
Designers and Studio’s, are you using Sketch in your workflow? If not, what’s holding you back? If so, has it lived up to your expectations? We’d loved to hear your thoughts.