When I tell people that I’m a user experience (UX) designer, most people nod politely as their eyes glaze over for a second, and they try to move the conversation along. Early in my career I thought they were completely uninterested, but over time, I came to realize that many people simply don’t know what UX is and might feel awkward about asking. On behalf of misunderstood UX designers everywhere, please allow me to introduce you to the wonders of quality UX and why you should care about it.
Throughout my 14 years in the design industry, I’ve used countless tools to work on my design projects. One of the first tools I used was the venerable design workhorse Adobe Photoshop, and it became my favorite tool for web and print design back in 2004. In the early days of my career, I considered Photoshop to be the most complete tool in terms of web design and mobile application design. Challenging Adobe’s dominance, Sketch arrived in 2010 and in my opinion revolutionized the UI/UX design process for Mac users. I loved Sketch and used it whenever I could for my web projects, but its lack of compatibility with PCs proved to be an inconvenient limitation in mixed-platform environments.
Bring on the Beta
In 2016, Adobe unleashed a new application called Adobe XD that seemed like it was designed specifically to surpass and replace Sketch — and guess what — Adobe succeeded. I started using the XD beta version, and while I thought it was very similar to Sketch, I felt Adobe still needed to integrate a few more features to make XD more user-friendly and more competitive compared to other design programs. Before long, Adobe enhanced XD with many features that changed the way I design my projects. Now, XD is the primary application that I use to create my designs, wireframes, and interactive prototypes.
Why Use XD Instead of Sketch or Photoshop?
To be honest, XD just feels right to me. Photoshop files can quickly balloon into multiple GBs, and the chunkiness of the files makes it feel like a “heavy” application. These days, I mainly use Photoshop for editing photos or to create cool, crazy effects that I can't make in a different application. Sketch is still a good tool, but I can’t edit Sketch files on my PC, and that incompatibility can be a nightmare. Today, we need to work efficiently and effectively across multiple platforms, so I prefer to use XD for my UI/UX projects.
Reason #1: It’s a Lightweight Application
One of the main reasons why I like Adobe XD so much is because it doesn’t consume a lot of system resources. In my experience, XD files are five to ten times smaller than Photoshop files. Most of my XD documents are so light that I can send them as email attachments instead of using cloud-based sharing tools. While XD doesn’t bog itself down with the multitude of features that Photoshop offers, Adobe wisely included all of the features savvy designers need to work quickly and without interruptions. Opening an XD file is noticeably faster than opening a Photoshop document, and everything — from opening the assets panel, working with layers, and full-stack prototyping — feels smooth.
Reason #2: XD Was Made for Web and App Design
One of my favorite features is the ability to create multiple artboards. As a vector-based platform, XD allows me to create and edit vector files that are easy to scale and optimize for the high-resolution displays used in modern mobile phones and computer monitors. You can design an entire website or a whole mobile application in a single XD document. The process is made even easier by creating components that can be used in both web and mobile design. XD also makes sharing works-in-progress with stakeholders — including clients, developers, and other designers — a breeze.
Reason #3: Built-In Prototyping
Creating prototypes in XD couldn't be easier. I really love creating interactive prototypes and showing different transitions between screens or hover states on buttons and other components. Before XD, I was a fan of the InVision app and the Marvel app (no, not that one), both of which are great prototyping tools, but XD saves me from the annoying, time-consuming file conversions these apps required. When you create a prototype with XD, you can send the prototype URL to a stakeholder and enable comments on each project to receive feedback as soon as possible. Another one of my favorite features is the ability to share a prototype dedicated to developers. This prototype allows them to see HEX codes, fonts, padding, margins, image sizes, and many other properties that will help them develop the mobile application or website.
Adobe XD May Become Your Team’s MVP
For me, Adobe XD has completely changed the way I work by creating a reliable, fast, light, and easy-to-use application. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t quickly become the new darling of the design industry. If you’re a UI/UX designer, I urge you to give XD a chance to show you how easily it can elevate your design game.
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