Choosing a design tool can be a big deal in today’s world.
Tools used in making designs do have some impact on your final prototypes and on how fast you will work. When choosing a design tool to settle with, you have to consider your utmost priority for the project. Most of the design tools we have today have very similar interfaces and can produce almost identical results.
Some are your best bet and most preferred choice if your project requires a lot of collaborative efforts, while some are very big on prototyping features.
If you have mastered one of these tools below, you cannot be a total stranger to the others, as functionality and icons are almost the same across all.
One major thing you’d have to consider when choosing a tool is the learning curve, which generally refers to the ease of use of the application.
How long will it take the designer to have an excellent working knowledge of the application?
Companies usually prefer easy to use applications, as most clients have high expectations within a short period.
Cost is also another important factor as some of the applications are free, and some offer limited trials while others are entirely paid for.
Cross-Platform functionality can also be necessary as some prototyping tools are limited to OSX or Windows-only while some are 100% web-based.
Prototyping is generally good, as it helps prevent a lot of back and forth with clients. They can see what the final version of the product being built will look like before developers put in a lot of work into the coding. Helping companies and freelancers save a lot of time and money.
In this post, we will be discussing three (3) tools which are dominating the design space at the time of this publication.
They are Figma, Adobe XD (Experience Design), and Sketch.
In 2019, UXtools.co surveyed responses from over 3000 designers sharing the design tools they use. We will talk about each of these tools, one by one, and highlight the pros and cons of each.
Figma is a relatively new design tool.
Figma became popular due to the ease in fostering collaboration among team members. Users can make comments on designs in real-time and view changes made by other team members simultaneously.
It is completely FREE to use at the time of making this post. It is also 100% web-based, which means you can use it in any browser.
Figma can be seen to help eliminate a lot of unnecessary processes.
- FREE Access.
- Real-time Collaboration.
- Quick developer hand-off with Export all feature’ and also Real-time code generation.
- Cloud-based, this means it can be accessed anytime from anywhere.
- Access to so many plugins.
- Real-time prototyping with Figma Mirror on mobile to view how your designs will look on mobile.
- You need the internet to use it.
- Requires at-least 4gb ram to run smoothly and Intel HD 3000 graphics card. Most designers have this, but designers work with other people who may have input on the project and may not have systems that meet these design requirements.
- MAC OS.
- Free Starter Plan.
- $12 per month for a professional plan.
- $45 per month for an organization plan.
Early designers used Photoshop as their go-to-tool for designs. In 2016, Adobe released XD, which is more focused on interface design.
The tool is FREE to download but has some paid features. It is very reliable for prototyping purposes. You can even record your prototypes right in the application, and this is a feature that is missing in Figma.
If you are used to other Adobe software, learning Adobe XD will be a walk in the park as the keyboard shortcuts are the same.
Adobe XD PROs:
- It has a FREE plan but with some limitations.
- It is available for both MAC and PC users.
- The in-built tutorial which highlights crucial points a beginner should know.
- It has a repeat grid feature, which helps you save a lot of time when building interfaces with similar content.
Adobe XD CONs:
- Prototyping feature view on mobile is only available on MAC OS at the time of this post.
- It does not generate CSS for designs.
- You cannot design customized shapes asides those already in the software.
- MAC OS.
- Free Starter Plan.
- $9.99 per month for a more robust plan.
Sketch is a MAC OS design-based tool. It has a pretty simple interface and easy to learn and use. It has a vector-based workflow that enables you to create beautiful designs with ease. Repeated elements such as buttons can be saved easily and copied into new artboards during your design process.
- Design can be easily transmitted into CSS.
- Auto-saves your work.
- All elements are vectors by default.
- A very diverse library of plugins.
- Free trial but full access costs $99 when a lot of other tools are free to use.
- Available to MAC users only.
- Relies on a lot of plugins to get certain features which can lead to compatibility issues when the sketch updates.
· MAC OS / OSX.
- 30 days Free Trial.
- $99 one-time payment.