Five Reasons to Prototype with Adobe XD
At Founders Factory, we start and grow businesses that will define the future.
‘Start’ means we build from scratch, however with so many potential routes a product could take, it’s important we choose the right one. A large part of our process is therefore validation; putting prototypes in the hands of users and stakeholders to gather their feedback.
Given our mission to launch 200+ technology business over the next five years, we’re always on the lookout for new tools that can speed up this workflow. Recently we’ve been exploring Adobe Experience Design (XD), and early impressions indicate it’s a fantastic addition to our toolbox.
What is Adobe XD?
XD is an all-in-one cross-platform tool for designing, prototyping, and sharing. It’s currently in beta (pre-release) and free for anyone with a Creative Cloud account (which itself is free to create).
Below we cover the five features we love, and conclude with our thoughts.
#1 Speed: Performance and Tooling
XD was built from the ground up for speed, both in terms of software performance and user tooling. If you’ve previously used other Adobe products, don’t fret — XD is fast. We’ve been especially impressed by it’s boot time and handling of larger projects.
#2 Repeat grids
One feature we love is ‘repeat grids’: a tool that reduces the time spent making small adjustments to multiple elements. Simply select elements you wish to repeat, group them, and select ‘Make Repeat Grid’ from the Options menu.
The best feature has to be in-built prototyping; it’s simple to use, and hugely speeds up the workflow. Switch the workspace from ‘Design’ to ‘Prototype’ (select ‘Switch Workspace’ from the View menu), select the element or group you want to make interactive, and drag to a corresponding artboard. At the time of writing it’s only possible to add taps or clicks, although we expect more interactions to be supported in the future.
#4 The Accompanying App
The accompanying app is on both iOS and Android and is a great addition. With the app installed, you can plug a mobile device into your laptop (or sync over Creative Cloud) and see any changes you make in real-time — including prototype changes.
#5 Instantly Share and Gather Feedback
Finally, we’ve been impressed with how easy it is to share designs and prototypes. Select the share icon in the top right-hand corner, give your project a name, hit ‘Create Link’, and get sharing! In addition, anyone with access to the link can view the prototype and pin a comment. Best of all, they can do this as a guest (i.e. they don’t need an Adobe Creative Cloud account). This might sound trivial, but it’s important to remove blockers when requesting feedback.
Whilst we believe XD is a fantastic addition to our toolbox, it’s not perfect.
Firstly, Adobe haven’t been as responsive or transparent as we’d hoped with new features. It’s great they’ve released early to gather feedback, however we’ve seen little change thus far. Adobe created a ‘uservoice’ board for feature requests, yet the top request — fixed elements in scrolling artboards — was posted over a year ago and is still ‘in the backlog’.
To their credit, Adobe have clarified that this slow rate of new features is due to their work bringing parity to Windows 10. This is important to note; although the majority of designers may work on MacOS, not everyone wants to work on (or can afford) a Mac. Running on Windows 10 certainly makes XD more accessible than certain competing offerings.
Secondly, and understandably, there are bugs. The desktop application is very stable (we can’t recall a single crash), though we can’t say the same for the accompanying mobile apps. We’ve ran into multiple issues on Android, especially with the live reload feature, which regularly fails to register when there’s an open XD document.
All things considered, Adobe Experience Design is a great product. It’s missing some key features (e.g. fixed headers and rulers), however it is lightning fast, intuitive, and a real joy to work with.
It’s free whilst in beta, so head over to the website and start turning your concepts into prototypes — let us know what you create!