Over the years, Adobe had been lacking a dedicated user experience (UX) tool, resulting in them competing with existing tools such as InVision, Sketch and Figma. However, Adobe Experience Design (XD) was recently developed to fill in this gap in their product lineup. This blog post aims to delve into XD and compare it with Sketch, which is presently considered as the industry leader.
As a UX designer, having access to the right tools is crucial in successfully completing the various phases of the UX process, from research through to design, prototype and ultimately, handoff. In recent years, Sketch has become an industry standard due to its sleek design and extensive range of plugins. However, Sketch is only available on Mac OS, which means PC users are excluded from using it. Thankfully, Adobe is currently working on a cross-platform alternative that would rival Sketch – Adobe XD. This tool is expected to offer similar design features and tools as Sketch, thereby making it accessible to both PC and Mac users.
Understanding Adobe XD
Adobe Experience Design Creative Cloud, which was first introduced as Project Comet during Adobe MAX 2015, is a streamlined vector graphics editor and prototype tool. It was initially offered as a preview release through Adobe Creative Cloud in March 2016 and has since been in the beta phase, receiving periodic updates.
In recent times, Adobe has revised their focus to incorporate user experience (UX) design elements into their products like Illustrator and Photoshop. However, while these programs are potent, they have not been designed specifically for UX design and lacked essential features for this purpose. The discontinuation of Adobe Fireworks in 2013 further underlined the need for a more appropriate software for UX design. Due to this, many UX designers shifted to Sketch (for Mac only), leaving Adobe to create a comparable product. After six years, Adobe XD is finally here, and PC users can now access it. To determine how they compare, let’s take a look at Adobe XD and Sketch side by side.
Interface and Unique Features
Upon launching Adobe XD for the first time, users will notice the familiar user interface, designed to be recognisable to Sketch users or those already accustomed to Adobe’s products. Instead of opting for the anticipated darker set of Creative Cloud icons and menus, Adobe has merged both to offer the best of both options, providing a unified user experience. The left side of the screen displays a set of tools and a more prominent layers panel, while the right presents dynamic properties, making it user-friendly and simple to learn regardless of prior experience with the tool.
Adobe XD offers a variety of powerful and exceptional tools, one of which is the Repeat Grid. With this feature, users can replicate a set of elements such as a Material Design card, while also having the ability to vary the corresponding data and tweak the space between the duplicates.
Adobe XD comes with an in-built Prototype Editor, enabling designers to develop interactive prototypes without the need for any third-party plugins, unlike Sketch. The tool allows designers to link interactive areas graphically to other displays using wires and transitions. Upon completion, the interactive prototype can be shared on the web or via the Adobe XD mobile app. At present, Adobe XD prototypes do not support gestures or fixed portions such as headers that can be used in conjunction with Sketch with other prototyping programs such as InVision.
As part of the August 2017 update, Adobe introduced the Asset panel, bringing about a revolutionary means of creating an interactive style guide. This guide includes colours, character styles, and symbols, which when changed in the Asset panel, automatically impact any instance of the object used in design work. While Sketch also offers similar features such as colour variables, character styles, and symbols, they are restricted to their own specific panels.
Adobe XD, the product design and prototyping tool, is getting new and exciting features soon according to Adobe. One of these features is the expanded Assets function, enabling designers to share their project’s style guide with downloadable fonts, assets and colour hexadecimal codes, alongside the interactive prototype. This feature is known as “handoff for developers” and is already present in Sketch (and Photoshop) with the help of external plugins such as Zeplin. Another upcoming feature is real-time collaboration, much like Google Docs and Figma, that already exist in other UX design tools. This feature in XD will facilitate designers to work together on projects, streamline the design process, and increase efficiency.
It is apparent that Adobe’s ultimate objective for Adobe XD is to establish it as a comprehensive UX design tool not only to compete with Sketch as a vector graphics application but also to incorporate plugins covering the full UX design process, from design to prototype to handoff. Nonetheless, the issue persists: what are the current alternatives for UX designers?
Time for a Change?
Adobe XD is an application designed to offer Windows users a design program that they can access without additional charges, as part of the subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud. This is particularly beneficial to those who cannot use Sketch since it is restricted to macOS users.
With an increasing number of UX designers embracing Adobe XD, the new design software is rapidly becoming the industry norm. Experienced Sketch users are likely to find Adobe XD’s enhanced user interface and outstanding features alluring, though it’s worth noting that some limitations and a lack of plugin support still exist. Nonetheless, it’s definitely worth experimenting with Adobe XD, and we’re eager to hear your feedback!