Which UX Tool Is Better: Adobe XD or Sketch?

For many years, Adobe lacked a dedicated user experience (UX) tool, leaving them to compete with Sketch, InVision, and Figma. Recently, Adobe created Adobe Experience Design (XD) to address this gap in their product line. In this article, we will explore XD and compare it to Sketch, the current industry leader.

As a UX designer, it is essential to have access to the correct tools in order to successfully complete the various phases of the UX process, from research to design to prototype to handoff. In recent years, the popular vector graphics editor, Sketch, has become an industry standard due to its streamlined design and wide variety of helpful plugins. Unfortunately, Sketch is only available on Mac OS, so PC users have been excluded from the program. Fortunately, Adobe is currently in the process of creating a cross-platform alternative to Sketch, named Adobe XD. This program is expected to be similar in design to Sketch, allowing PC users to access the same features and tools.

What Exactly Is Adobe XD?

Adobe Experience Design Creative Cloud (Adobe XD), which was initially presented as Project Comet at Adobe MAX 2015, is a lightweight vector graphics editor and prototype application. It entered into a preview form as part of Adobe Creative Cloud in March 2016, and since then, it has been in the beta phase, receiving updates on a regular basis.

In recent years, Adobe has shifted its focus to incorporate user experience (UX) design elements into their products such as Photoshop and Illustrator. While these are powerful programs, they are not designed for UX design and lacked the necessary features for this purpose. The retirement of Adobe Fireworks in 2013 further highlighted the need for a more suitable software for UX design. As a result, many UX designers moved to Sketch (Mac only), leaving Adobe to answer the call for a comparable product. After a six-year wait, Adobe XD has been released and is now available to PC users. Let’s compare Adobe XD to Sketch to see how they measure up.

User Interface and Special Features

Upon the initial launch of Adobe XD, users will be comforted by the familiarity of the user interface, as it is designed to be both recognisable to Sketch users and those familiar with Adobe products. Rather than opting for the anticipated darker Creative Cloud icons and menus, Adobe has decided to bring together the best of both worlds in order to provide a seamless user experience. The left side of the screen features a set of tools and the larger layers panel, as well as dynamic properties on the right, making it user-friendly and easy to learn regardless of prior experience with the tool.

Grid Repetition

Adobe XD provides users with a range of powerful and unique tools, one of which is the Repeat Grid. This tool grants users the ability to replicate a group of elements – for instance, a Material Design card – while at the same time, allowing them to vary the accompanying data and modify the space between the replicas.

Prototyping

Adobe XD allows designers to create interactive prototypes without the need of any third-party plugins, as they would with Sketch. The Adobe Prototype Editor allows designers to graphically link interactive regions to other displays with wires and transitions. Once complete, the interactive prototype can be published and shared either on the web or via the Adobe XD mobile app. At this time, Adobe XD prototypes do not support gestures or the use of fixed portions, such as headers, which are available in InVision and other prototyping programs that can be used in conjunction with Sketch.

Panel of Assets

Adobe released the Assets panel as part of the August 2017 update, providing a revolutionary way to create an interactive style guide. This style guide incorporates colours, character styles, and symbols, and any changes made to these in the Assets panel affect any instance of the object in the artwork. Similar features such as colour variables, character styles, and symbols are also available in Sketch but are confined to their own respective panels.

Adobe recently announced exciting new features coming soon to their product design and prototyping tool, Adobe XD. One of these features is an expanded Assets function, allowing designers to publish their project’s style guide with downloadable fonts, assets and colour hexadecimal codes, in addition to the interactive prototype. This feature, known as the “handoff for developers”, is already available in Sketch (and Photoshop) with the help of external plugins such as Zeplin. Another upcoming feature is real-time collaboration inside XD, similar to that found in Google Docs and already accessible in other UX design tools such as Figma. This will allow designers to work together on projects, streamlining the design process and increasing efficiency.

When considering the scope of the project, it is clear that Adobe’s ultimate goal is to make Adobe XD a comprehensive UX design tool that not only rivals Sketch as a vector graphics application, but also has the plugins to cover the entire UX design process, from design to prototype to handoff. However, the question remains: what options are available to UX designers in the present?

Is it Time to Make a Change?

Adobe XD is a software tool created with the intention of providing Windows users with a design program that they can access without having to pay any additional fees, as it is included in the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. This is particularly useful for those who cannot use Sketch, which is exclusive to macOS users.

As more and more UX designers are making the switch to Adobe XD, the new design software is quickly becoming the new industry standard. For experienced Sketch users, the improved user interface and exclusive features of Adobe XD are likely to be appealing, although it is important to note that there are still some limitations and the absence of plugin support. Regardless, it is certainly worth giving Adobe XD a try, and we would love to hear your thoughts!

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