How many moments in life can you point to and say: "That's when it all changed."

This may seem a little dramatic, but for a design enthusiast like myself, this is where it all changed.

I remember the first time I gave Sketch a shot after years of working with Adobe Photoshop. It changed design for me forever. And this is one such moment I can point to.

Sketch and its benefits

Sketch was beautiful and easy to pick up, especially with the help of Scott from LevelUpTuts. Gone were the days of me using my clunky Photoshop and Illustrator to design high fidelity mock-ups. Sketch introduced simple and easy ways to use different solutions, and commands that were otherwise so tedious and so complicated that it felt like a job to work with it.

Sketch was built for responsive multi-platform design, as well as for exporting files and graphic elements quickly. It streamlined the process of working with developers and also drastically reduced work time. When you are passionate about something, you often don’t consider what you do “work,” that’s what Sketch did for me.

It allowed me to align any object to the center of an Artboard, whether it was horizontal or vertical, the simplest things were made even more accessible. Also, since Sketch was created for web and UI design, it is geared more towards pixel units, which makes it a lot less buggy. Sketch being a niche app, also made it much easier to create designs faster than it would in Photoshop. It felt more intuitive and easier to learn than Photoshop; it felt like there was benefit after benefit.

Could it get any better?

A new wave

Then something happened, after years of building out prototypes with Sketch and Invision, I found myself discussing the possibility of collaborating with a team that primarily uses Adobe XD.

“Let yourself be open, and life will be easier,'' right? I decided to give it a go. I had to test the waters and see how it works, what the hype was all about.

For the past few years, I was under the assumption that Adobe while being the gold standard for photography, photo manipulation, illustration, and graphic design, was losing the war of UX.

Getting started in Adobe XD

So I downloaded the desktop app, which unlike most Adobe products, is free to begin! Definitely an excellent way to start learning Adobe XD.

It took a few minutes, but my new app was ready to explore.

How many moments in life can you point to and say: "That's when it all changed."

Here we go again. People wait their whole life to have these moments, and here I was falling for yet another software that could potentially change design for me... again.

My initial review? This is awesome. It may rival the combination of Sketch and Invision for the prototyping process. I was impressed. I’ve stumbled onto a treasure that I wasn’t even searching for.

A few roadblocks

It was time to take the software out for a spin. But when I started to create a simple login sequence, there were quite a few problems that I encountered, which made the ride a little rough.

1. No option to crop

The very first problem I encountered was that there was no option to crop. What?! I was a little confused. How could there be no way to crop a photo... on Adobe? Instead, there is a workaround using masking, which honestly does not make things as easy as they could be. There should be a tool that allows one to crop by selection or double-clicking instead of masking by shape to crop the photo. For a design software, this is a pretty simple thing you miss out on.

2. Editing bitmaps

One of the other problems I encountered was editing bitmap. There was no magic wand tool to delete backgrounds or select parts of an image. It proved to be a little troublesome as there was no quick option that was built into Adobe XD for any bitmap manipulations.

3. No color overlay

Similar to the previous problem XD has no option for color overlay. The transparent PNGs do not allow color edits, which are once again a pretty basic thing to lack.

4. External links

An option to provide for external links when prototyping would be useful, which XD currently does not allow. I’m used to this with Invision, which helps keep the user engaged. A button that could hyperlink to another web page seems basic but significant, which would the XD experience better. But I believe that the team is currently working on providing this solution.

“Design is so simple. Thats why its so complicated” - Paul Rand

The next steps

With years of experience in building out prototypes for startups, enterprise companies and myself, this new application wasn’t tricky. Most of the features are similar, and they even share a few keyboard shortcuts. Comparing the characteristic features, Sketch and Adobe XD are close. Sketch lacks a lot of features such as auto responsive design, repeat grid, and auto-animate, which are distinctive to Adobe. What Adobe seriously lacks is version control, which Sketch has all thanks to plugins.

It is easier to transition from Sketch to XD than the other way around, as XD has the power to open Sketch files with excellent fidelity.

Adobe, like Sketch offers a long list of plugins to improve performance. Maybe after some exploring, it can make up for its shortcomings. Despite the problems I have faced so far, I am keen on seeing where this goes. I never thought I would make the switch from Sketch to XD, but here I am. There are tons of updates that are going to be rolled out soon and I look forward to testing them all.

But that will be another article.


I have also recently joined Adobe XD Discord. Along with a very receptive and collaborative community, they offer daily UX challenges. Join me on this journey at AdobeXD on Discord.

Right now, I’m still pumped to use my new toy. I’ll continue to build out a few personal projects to get the hang of Adobe XD. While I’m excited about this new journey, ultimately, design is not about the tools you use nor their killer features.

Design is about communicating an idea even when you aren’t present. Simply put, think in the product. You should strive to make an easy, effective, and impactful product. A product that has a purpose.

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