Why I Dumped Photoshop for Sketch

And why you should too

Steve Jones
Design + Sketch


I was introduced to Photoshop about 10 years ago and I fell in love. Playing around with Photoshop at a young age led me to be passionate about UI/UX design. Many product designers have similar experiences with Photoshop because for years it had been the dominant tool in the industry. But now there’s an up-and-coming tool and it’s time to check it out.

Good UX = Happy Customers = $$$

Recently there has been a revolution in the tech industry in terms of design. Tech companies are putting more emphasis on design than ever before. This is not only because great design sells, but also because companies are realizing the incredible benefits of investing in improving the user experience of their products. As a result, the UI/UX design scene is growing and innovating at an intense rate. It seems as though Adobe has been sleeping through this revolution and as a result, their industry leading tool has not kept up its dominance.

Photoshop is Antiquated

It’s tough to blame Adobe. Photoshop wasn’t built for UI designers and Adobe has tried its best to make it work. Photoshop was designed and built as digital image processing tool for photography editing. As Adobe and its users began to see the application as a tool for UI design, they began to throw in new features to support it. However, because it wasn’t built from its core for this functionality there was always a sense of “hacking” the software to perform these unnatural actions. Photoshop’s engine was never optimized for UI design features. As a result adding these features was never efficient in using the engine. This led to using a ton of resources and the classic crashes longtime Photoshop users had become accustomed to.

A familiar sight to longtime Photoshop users

Not only did additions to Photoshop take a toll on processing but the interface of the application grew. Photoshop expanded to become a behemoth of an application that intimidates users. The overwhelming amount of features means it’s nearly impossible for a user to understand how each works, let alone know the features even exist. A UI designer needs to be able to quickly and efficiently create and edit designs and Photoshop’s overwhelming interface slows down designers.

“Designing UI in Photoshop is like using a chainsaw to cut paper when all you need is a pair of scissors” -Baz Deas

The perfect example of how Photoshop has grown too big is how they handled updating to support Apple’s retina resolution. Of course for an image editing application, high resolution is incredibly important. However, six months after Apple released the MacBook Pro with retina display Adobe still had yet to update Photoshop to take advantage of it.

Enter Sketch

Sketch was designed from the ground up with the purpose of being the most powerful and efficient application for UI/UX designers. Sketch is lightweight, focused, and fast. Its simple clean interface is a significant transition from Photoshop, but one I welcome with open arms. As a new user of Sketch I didn’t feel intimidated by the interface. I didn’t feel like I had read a tutorial or take a class just to be able to use the application.

Sketch = Simple

In 3 hours of using Sketch I was at the level of production it took me 3 years to reach in Photoshop. After a week I felt as though I knew every tool Sketch offers. Whereas after 10 years of Photoshop I still don’t know over 50% of its features.

The core difference in terms of functionality is that Photoshop is pixel based, Sketch instead uses vectors. This is a welcome change for UI designers used to Photoshop because vector based designs are scalable and allow easier editing. This enables quick live non-destructive tweaking.

Sketch includes many other welcome features that designers did not have in Photoshop. Its autosave and an easy versioning system mean the days of constant ⌘+s keystrokes are over! Sketch has smart alignment guides, linked styles, SVG editing, and possibly most useful: easy exporting!

Leaving Photoshop meant leaving a community that had been established for years. Many designers like myself had built up ages of libraries and resources. However, I was delightfully surprised as I joined the young and exciting Sketch community. Designers and developers are rapidly contributing new plugins, templates, and UI kits. For example I created a Sketch template / UI Kit for Instagram and uploaded it to GitHub so it is available for any Sketch users to take advantage of.

Instagram UI Kit

The developers behind Sketch listen to the community. This means unlike Photoshop, the developers are fast, and personable. Sketch constantly is updating and adding requested features. As a user, I get a feeling that my concerns are actually heard.

Moving to Sketch made me a better designer. My design process has become more efficient and precise. I can play around easier because edits are fast, easy, and non-destructive. It’s hard to leave a old loyal friend like Photoshop, but I dumped Photoshop for Sketch and I haven’t looked back.