Tools We Use: Sketch
Mar 9, 2016
A UX Designer, an Interactive Developer, and a Visual Designer walk into a bar…and actually, that’s exactly what happened. Our Interactive Team has been using Sketch for some time and, curious about their thoughts, I invited them to sit down and tell me why they love the program.
Wanting to be at least semi-knowledgeable before my scheduled interview, I did some research.
According to the website, Sketch was created “specifically for designing interfaces, websites, icons…whatever is in your head.” It’s fully vector based, and allows you to design without worrying about changing styles, sizes, or layouts. It truly seems to allow designers to focus on their work, thanks to a flexible workflow.
So, what do the designers think?
Joe Bond, UX designer, is a fan.
“It’s like they took all the things we love and packaged it into something UX designers and developers, and people who work on the internet, love to use.”
Joe explained that Sketch was custom-made for interactive designers. Unlike Photoshop and Illustrator, it hasn’t been retrofitted in order to be usable for interactive development and design.
“There are two big reasons why it helps with workflow. First, you can work super fast in it, thanks to the Artboards and Symbols. You can reuse elements across your designs and they’ll all stay synced and up-to-date, making it easier and saving time. Sketch also has great plugins that can accelerate adding in content. It’s tightly integrated with InVision, which shortens the design cycle by making it easy to go from concepting to wireframes to prototypes.”
In Sketch, every shape you create becomes an item in the Layers List, which means no more hidden paths. You can combine paths to create complex objects, and each part will stay 100% editable. Working on a large project? Just name and group your objects – Sketch’s Layers List is searchable.
Reusable elements are also crucial. Changes made to a symbol will be reflected across every repeat, on every page and across multiple layers.
This is especially helpful for Jen Hubbard, an Interactive Designer.
“The reusable elements help you stay consistent with your designs and styles.”
She also loves the fact that you can have multiple files – for desktop, tablets and mobile – open in one file, and all visible at the same time. Sketch is also very shortcut driven. Learn the shortcuts, and you’ll save yourself even more time.
For Zach Stowell, an Interactive Developer, it’s all about the export features.
“Sketch is infinitely better at exporting, especially from a screen standpoint. It also makes it easy to pull the values of things, and it exports the CSS for you. Sketch’s export process makes production much easier.”
For developers, Sketch is also helpful in building apps, and for people who, in Zach’s words, “build screens of things.”
“You’re no longer dealing with five different files, and you no longer have hidden paths and layers that complicate everything.”
When you export in Sketch, you can do it with just one click. No more slicing layers or complicated naming conventions.
Why We Love Sketch
Per Joe Bond – “If you think Photoshop and Illustrator are easy, you’re going to love Sketch. It’s easy to pick up and learn, and it just makes more sense.”
Obviously we love it – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things we would change if we could. Here are some Sketch-specific Pros and Cons from the users at Centerline:
• Symbols – “If I made a navigation bar that was going to be on every screen, whenever I make updates, they will be reflected across all screens.”
• Integration with InVision
• Exporting – “This is huge with developers, especially when you have to do multiple sizes of assets, because you can export selected sizes automatically.”
• Organization – “Sketch relates closer to code, so it standardizes the process, despite all the different ways developers design.”
• Simplified program, built specifically for Web Design – “Sketch is a program intended for one use – interface design. Photoshop and Illustrator are bloated, and there are tons of things you don’t need if you’re only designing interfaces.”
• Mac only
• Bugs – “There can be some bugs, but it’s updated pretty regularly.”
• Doesn’t have years of knowledge behind it – “Like, say…Photoshop.”
• Challenging if working with clients who don’t use Sketch – “Some clients want Photoshop files, but that’s changing – Sketch has gotten big enough that this isn’t a huge issue anymore.”
• Graphics – “Creating graphics isn’t great. I sometimes use Illustrator to make graphics, then pull them into Sketch.”