My Design Tool of Choice

March 27, 2020 2 min read

I’ve been designing websites for years – but always with code, so when the move to becoming a designer started getting motion, I asked myself; “photoshop?“, and googled away to find what other user interface designers use to try them out and see what clicks.

Photoshop

Of course, the thing that still even today holds a lot of ground is Adobe’s Photoshop. Personally I used Adobe Fireworks back in the day, which was not half bad to use for web design (since discontinued), but the professionals had always used Photoshop so I gave it a go as well, because of course, I want to be a professional.

Immediately I was bombarded with a billion controls and buttons. How do you even make a rectangular shape turn into a circle? What about a grid? Basically, I started googling in order to be able to use this software – a big red flag. After a few attempts at configuring Photoshop, I decided to give up and leave Photoshop to what I’ve always used it best for – cropping photos.

Adobe XD

Then I heard from a friend who interned at a web agency that they were moving from Photoshop to Adobe XD when it came to user interface design, which immediately piqued my interest. I actually really liked Adobe XD and did a bit of actual paid work with it.

The more I used it, however, the more I started seeing the flaws – or rather, the have-nots. When I would create an image, then add a blurring layer on top of that, it would not be possible to export it easily. Neither would the developer hand-off tool allow the person to do that. In fact, the developer hand-off tool was quite poor in exports anyway. Add to that no ability to add inner shadow and I was on the road again.

Figma

Now Figma is pretty cool. It has a super nice plugin integration (unlike the glitchy experience of plugins that Adobe XD has), it has all the features I would expect to have (and more!) and I also did some actual paid work with it. I don’t really have any negatives for Figma, except that I really am not a fan of web apps as something I would like to use day-in and day-out, but other than that, I have nothing against Figma and if I stumble on a client that insists on me using that, I will.

Sketch

I was almost set on Figma to be honest, but then I stumbled upon Sketch. The level of detail that they put into their own website’s design, as well as it being a native Mac app, had me immediately. Yes, I’m a sucker for that stuff. I have not noticed missing features in comparison to Figma, but then again, I’m still learning so I still might find some, but otherwise, the app itself is perfect for me.

The developer handoff is nice, all tough at the time of writing the cloud inspector can not export assets just yet, so I have to do that manually for a client, but it’s not a big problem for me, because everything else seems to work perfectly.


All in all, my design tool of choice is either Sketch or Figma, with Sketch currently being no. 1. I think a little bit of “it’s not the hammer, it’s who yields it” applies here, but my yielding resulted in these thoughts.

24th April update: After not being satisfied with Sketch's tiny lags and less than ideal responsiveness here and there, then trying out Figma again, I've changed my mind on my design tool of choice. It's definitely Figma now.