Say hello to Sketch
Designers are curious people by nature, and maybe that’s what explains the neverending will to find new tools that will help them exteriorise ideas and best execute their craft. With that said, let’s talk about my experience with Sketch and how moving away from the classic CS pack can help to improve the design workflow.
It all comes out of frustration
Working with UI Design in a very busy agency, Photoshop became my main partner, helping me to deliver some exquisite layouts to the hands of a bunch of excited clients. With its colour profiles, grids, effects, filters, links and smart objects, it was obvious that a lot could be accomplished using that incredible piece of software.
The time has passed and, truth be told, Photoshop looks now like an old fella, working for long enough in a job he hates, about to have a heart attack. All that thing of filters, grids, smart objects, etc, turned the experience of designing with Photoshop on daily basis something like an attempt to swim with a bag of stones tied to your legs. No hard feelings, just trying to bring non designers on board.
When the first person came to me and said: “There is a new software around, it’s cheaper, super simple and I think you should have a closer look” - even though I’ve read a few good articles talking positive stuff about Sketch, my first thought was: “Ok, let’s give it a go! But honestly, if Adobe isn’t capable to give UI designers something decent to work with, no one will do it.”
I remember trying one or two different UI design tools during the past year but nothing really caught my attention for more than a few hours.
The first look
Opening Sketch for the first time is an experience. The interface it’s way to simple, and the simplicity shouts even more if you’re a Photoshop geek like me, with all the scripts, plugins and workflows used for UI as a standard set up. You start questioning how you’re going to do everything you need to do with so little. But relax, this feeling doesn’t last long.
Half an hour and a few good surprises later and you realise all that simplicity is the start of a great relationship between you and the machine. The tool box on sketch is an extension of your body, the dashboard is simple and clean, you just need to sit and drive.
Going down the road
After a few months and a number of projects I can tell that the change we’ve made here bringing Sketch to our workflow couldn’t be more beneficial for the business itself and specially for the people who works directly creating the designs.
Skech has the power of making me smile, is fast, lightweight, reliable and most important, it has UI design as a priority! It’s a tool for the Web with an enormous potential for growth.
Everyday there’s people out there working in new plugins designed to make your life easier while accomplishing the most specific tasks. You can feel a collaborative atmosphere around, an evolutionary aura that was lost long ago with Photoshop.
The benefits & strengths
- It is an affordable top line product for UI design, not a slice of an expensive software package. I don’t mean by any sense that the Adobe package is out of the way. At the moment Sketch has no plans to get involved in image treatment, and when talking about designing a magazine or drawing an illustration the holy trinity, Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator still do a better job. But remember, we are talking about the web environment here.
- It has text styles that actually works, which means if applied correctly, when a text style is amended the change will run all across the document. This has been one of the major issues with Photoshop and by far one of the most precious features on Sketch that will make you save a lot, and I mean A LOT of time.
- Symbols - the ability to create a library of symbols which are nothing but a collection of reusable graphic elements, very handy for icons, labels, modules and for component based design as a whole.
- Easy access to controls like colour, shadows, blur, borders ad image adjusts. Deserving a special mention to the ability of creating your own colour palette with just a few clicks!
- A huge number of resources are available online including graphics, UI kits, plugins, tricks and tips. To get started download Sketch Toolbox (http://sketchtoolbox.com/) and start digging around, you’re definately going to find something interesting that suits your needs.
- Sketch and Zeplin the dynamic duo! Zeplin is a great tool with the power to reduce to the minimum the usual theme and build mistakes. Things like wrong colour specs or poor adaptation of the styles guide won’t be part of the project’s lifespan anymore. Now the design handover became an easy task, no PNGs nor PSDs, you only share a link with your dev team mate giving them access to all design assets, including sprites, style guide, CSS codes etc. Keep it up to date and everything will run smooth.
- Even though Sketch is not perfect, and yes it has some bugs, they are very minimal if compared to what happens with Photoshop.
- They want to hear from us, they want us to work with them in order to improve the final product. I’m not talking about the Adobe “would you recommend us” 9 to 10 check box. The community sense is all around.
The verdict is clear, Sketch is an amazing tool for UI design and switching from Photoshop seems a great deal. As it gets to the mainstream, what it is happening now, more people will get involved, more resources will appear, and new releases can be expected for a new era of more collaborative design work and tools.