Sketch is a Mac application for user experience designers released about 5 years ago. The app is gaining more and more tracking and currently being used by more than 40% of UX designers all over the world.
In Create, we know exactly why we love it. But what do other designers think?
For the purpose of this article, we interviewed leading UX designers who are currently working with Sketch app.
Participated in preparing this article:
- Omri Dvir — User Experience Designer @ Facebook
- Adi Didi Inbar — Product designer @ Gett
- Ronit Klein — Co-Founder, Creative director, Create
- Nir Kosover — UX studio manager @ Wix
- Oz Pinhas — UX designer @ Google, Waze carpool team
- Maya Schwartz — Senior Designer @ Designit
- Ran Segall — Co-Founder, Product @ The nuSchool
- Lior Yair — Co-Founder, VP Product, Create
- Eyal Zuri — Co Founder & CCO @ Muzli
So, should we make the transition or not?
As designers, we are curious by nature. It is important for us to stay updated with new trends and software which can optimize our work process. Global product companies are switching to Sketch, and this fact is pushing designers to study the app. Companies such as Wix and Facebook have realized the effectiveness of Sketch and are providing in-house training for their employees.
Though friends recommendations are influencing designers to make the transition, Sketch’s strong and active community drives much of the tracking. Sketch has frequent updates, plugins and almost all are free.
Nir Kosover from Wix has no doubt the competition went up a notch and that there are quite a few intriguing new tools in the market. Out of this wide selection, Sketch seems to currently lead the way with a better, more mature product.
“I’ve been tracking Sketch’s development for a while now and when Sketch 3.0 was released it seemed like the right time to make the transition. I can’t point out a specific reason that led me to go through with it, but I guess after watching the world’s leading companies going through this transition I decided that it was worth a try. I switched to Sketch, not only as my personal tool but also as a key work tool for our UX studio (with almost 60 designers).” (Nir Kosover , Wix)
“Starting to work with Sketch, I really liked the feeling that it was working for me and not the other way around. Every UX designer feel that Photoshop and Illustrator are programs which are mainly used for image processing and illustration and therefore only a small part of the software is utilized. Sketch also enjoys a short learning curve, I joined in the middle of a joint project with our Swedish office, and within a day I felt complete command of the program.” (Maya Schwartz, Designit)
“I tried because of the buzz around it and I stayed because of the efficiency and work speed. The fact that you can see your entire flow / full product on one board with a full view, in a better and easier way than in Photoshop, just got me.” (Didi Adi Inbar, Gett)
“The truth is that it took me a long time to make the switch, well… I have been working with Photoshop for more than 15 years! But after all my friends (literally, too many of them) told me that I must try Sketch, I decided to look into it. After my first use I didn’t quite understand the fuss about it. Only when one of my friends invited me for a coffee and explained me more about Sketch and why I absolutely must make the transition, I decided to do it and bought the app. I had to start using it, just so I won’t feel bad for buying it. Since then I can’t look back.” (Ran Segall, The NuSchool)
“Something in the old work process felt complicated. Once I realized that Sketch established itself as a stable app and saw the incredible response from designers who use it, I decided to give it a try. One of the most effective things for me in Sketch is the fact that all of the project screens, behaviors and styles are deployed over the artboards in a single document that allows orientation and control in a very convenient manner. No more hiding layers and effects, this is the right way to work in my opinion.” (Ronit Klein, Create)
Time is money!
Sketch has quite a few advantages, but there is no doubt that the main one is the speed. Sketch was specifically designed for user experience designers, therefor — any feature that is not relevant for them, simply does not exist. This fact reduces cognitive load, thus simplifying our work, shortening process and saving valuable time.
Designers really like the simplicity of working with symbols and pre-made templates that enables quick and efficient work. Also, the fact you can, most of the time, use only the keyboard is very fond by designers, and allows them to edit elements, choose colors and copy styles in an intuitive way.
Additional thing designers mentioned is that the product constantly evolves and being updated, there are many extensions and plugins that improve the work in teams and the communication between designers and developers.
“Speed, and speed. If it is important for you to be productive and work quickly (assuming that most of your work is interfaces), there is no quicker solution than Sketch.” (Ran Segall, The NuSchool)
“I believe that limitations create a better design (we all know the paralysis that comes with a blank page and complete freedom). The fact that Sketch contains a very limited number of tools, especially in comparison to Photoshop, enables me to build products efficiently. In addition, I am able to work with very large files, which contains a lot of screens, and still get good performance from my personal computer — which usually slows and inhibits the work with Photoshop.” (Omri Dvir, Facebook)
“Sketch has an amazing stock of extensions and integrations with various products that make life much easier.” (Eyal Zuri Muzli)
“Sketch is a slim program and one of its significant advantages is the easy integration with third-party. This is a significant advantage because there are lots of plugins to evaluate and select the most convenient one to work with, not having to commit to just one tool. It gives you the freedom to mix and match.” (Ronit Klein, Create)
“Sketch significantly shortened my work process. The app is easy and straightforward, everything is moving much faster.” (Lior Yair, Create)
Focusing on the design and not on technical aspects
Every project has a deadline, and as a part of it we have to deal with the technical side of our job. Optimally, designers would like to deal as little as possible with the technical side of their work and focus as much as possible on creating different versions of the design. Therefore, it is important that the technical part will be smooth, organized and efficient.
Eyal Zuri believes that the key element in shortening project time is cracking the concept and streamlining the work process between designers and
client \ boss, and that Sketch certainly makes the technical aspects smoother and more organized. Once we reduce the technical work to the minimum, we can spend more time on creating additional versions of the design concept and thus improve our product.
“Creating and editing symbols with Sketch is done in a simple way which allows you to move with the project quickly.” (Lior Yair, Create)
“Working with Sketch almost completely reduced the Wireframing phase. The speed and degree of precision in which I can design and finalize screens, means that there is no need to separate the planning phase from the design. Since I can work faster and I am able to explore many more options for each screen; if in the past I would try to explore 3–4 directions, today I am able to produce dozens of different options in a very short time and finally choose the right design for me.” (Omri Dvir, Facebook)
“Working with Sketch is very effective! I can concentrate more on the design and less on the software itself. The files load faster, having fewer over-complicated menus, the shortcuts are more intuitive and you can export files by simply dragging them directly to your email to Slack, or to Zeplin.” (Maya Schwartz, Designit)
“Sketch enables quick work, but not only that. With automatic guides and a fully vector-based workflow, the work process becomes super-quick and accurate” (Ronit Klein, Create)
“Working with Sketch certainly improved my work process. The ability to perform the most common operations with just my keyboard is worth everything! (Moving between layers, navigation into complex shapes, etc.).” (Oz Pinhas, Google, Waze)
“When working with patterns and symbols work becomes more rapid and simple especially when you need to expand to new screens. (Adi Didi Inbar, Gett)
The features that makes Sketch so powerful
When we asked designers what is Sketch’s best feature the answers were mixed and the competition was fierce. There is no doubt that one of the most amazing features is Sketch’s “Resizing” feature, which enables control in elements such as stretching, fixing, changing the size and buoyancy. This feature provides a huge value, primarily when working on projects with multiple resolutions.
In addition, designers really like the fact that the software offers measurement capabilities and automatic objects alignment during the design process, allowing them to reach a high level of accuracy with minimal effort.
The ability to recover old versions straight from the app is also important. But, without a doubt the designers’ favorite feature is Sketch’s ability to export screens and perform cuts to any resolutions or formats in an easy and intuitive manner.
“The new Resizing! — a minimalistic and very simple approach to a highly functional feature. Still in its early days but already provides a lot of value.” (Nir Kosover, Wix)
“Export of materials. So simple and fast. This alone is worth the transition.” (Ran Segall, The NuSchool)
“In the past I spent a lot of time on measurements and small changes in order to reach a high level of accuracy. Sketch provides measurement capabilities, for distances and alignment of objects, which integrates smoothly in the design process. Now I’m able to move elements all the time and still maintain equal distances and accuracy.” (Omri Dvir, Facebook)
“Keyboard shortcuts, unequivocally”. (Oz Pinchas, Google, Waze)
“The ability to export screens and files easily, in any resolution and any format.” (Maya Schwartz, Designit)
“One feature that stands out and provides a significant advantage is the ability to accommodate several different styles through the Inspector window for the same layer. There is no need to duplicate layers for creating an effect anymore, it saves time and allows work on a smaller file.” (Ronit Klein, Create)
Plugins: the designers’ best friends!
One of Sketch’s main advantages is its plugins, and new Sketch plugins are coming out almost on a daily basis.
One of our challenges as designers is working with developers who are responsible for the realization of our designs. This is when Zeplin comes into the picture. The plugin enables the creation of a quality, knit and most importantly — automatic Style Guide, which saves us many hours of technical work. No doubt this is the designers’ favorite Plugin.
In the second place is Craft. Craft is the ultimate extension for updating data and text, easily, transversely in all of our project pages. When we create a prototype for our clients, for testing or for any other purpose, we want our design to be credible transmit credibility and instill a sense of a genuine product. Instead of inserting the content manually, Craft offers us a quick and easy solution.
Oz Pinhas created a Sketch plugin that helps us cut in different resolutions. The plugin allows to export cuts quickly using the configuration presets for each platform and a keyboard shortcut to “play” the exportation, whenever cuts are added or changed.
“All of the developers are hooked with Zeplin, it saves long working hours and tedious settings and helps both parties to move forward quickly. Zeplin helps the developers get the screens quickly with all of the required information, and frees the designer to move on to the next screens design.” (Maya Schwartz, Designit)
“Every process with the development team that includes the creation of Style guides or an export of assets used to consume valuable time, leaving big holes in production during the Photoshop days. Today, with Zeplin simply upload the file and everything works seamlessly with the developers “(Adi Didi Inbar, Gett)
“Without a doubt, Craft is the most useful plugin. If we were talking about how Sketch shortens designers’ work time, I believe Craft has a big part in it. Craft is a suitcase full of useful tools that allows you to design with real content, duplicated design patterns, etc.” (Eyal Zuri, Muzli)
“Zeplin is a must! Using this plugin has saved me many hours of work and frustration in transferring products to the development team. This tool helps me and the developers create strong and smooth workflow which allows us to get to the highest level of the final product and also stay true to the design.” (Ronit Klein, Create)
Sketch improves the workflow of large teams
Our work as designers is usually based on teamwork. We collaborate with larger teams that includes other designers, content writers, marketing and product managers who are all involved in the delivery of the product.
Designers who work in teams told us that Sketch provides a great solution for large projects handling. They can easily create templates and implement them directly in the project file. by that, they can easily extract elements and maintain the uniformity of the product. Since Sketch produces lightweight files, there is no need to hold many files for different stages of the same screen. You can keep everything in one file.
Also, the ability to easily pass screens and cuts to Slack enables efficient team collaboration. This is a great way to get quick feedbacks on the design and accelerate the project with less rounds of revisions.
“Besides collaborating with designers, Sketch allows working with different members of the team, which enables everyone to influence and contribute to the design process. The content editor I’m working with at Facebook often edits the content directly on the Sketch file. The ease in which anyone can learn to use the app means that anyone can participate in the design phase, instead of waiting for a JPG file.” (Omri Dvir, Facebook)
“Wix is currently during the process of moving to Sketch. About half of our UX studio uses Sketch. I must say that it looks like the templates and libraries are helping our UI designers to work faster and more accurately.” (Nir Kosover, Wix)
“Even when you have specific conflicts with Dropbox’s / Drive, it is very easy to enter and see what has changed and simply steal the specific art board.” (Oz Pinchas, Google, Waze)
The Bottom Line
As designers, we prefer to spend our time on the actual design process. That’s exactly why we appreciate the vast range of issues that Sketch solved and the revolution it created. Sketch offers a simple and easy way to use solutions, and commands that were so complicated and tedious are now executes with a push of a button. Sketch is built for a responsive multi-platform design, enabling files and graphic elements export in a fast and simple way, streamlining the process of working with the developers and shortening work time.
We, in Create, truly believe in Sketch and its ability to simplify our work process and improve our final product. We teach Sketch’s framework in the design teams of Israel’s largest companies, helping them to improve their work process and to shorten delivery time.
A short and focused Sketch study program is now open for enrollment at Create, for experienced designers who wish to work with Sketch and learn the best practices and tools for digital design.