In a past life, when I was still a printing and media engineer, I used to design brochures and posters in Photoshop as a hobby. As I got serious about design, and started going to school for it, I learned that you used InDesign for type intensive projects like books, brochures and posters, and Illustrator was for designing assets for Flash and motion graphics projects. Strangely, Photoshop was still recommended for web and user interface mockups.
Photoshop was an inefficient way to design websites and I was quick to switch over to Illustrator. It felt lighter, had art boards, and gave you better control over type. Then Bohemian Coding came along and introduced Sketch. It looked interesting, ditching the Creative Suite felt dangerous, and so I drank the kool-aid and purchased a license. After tinkering for an hour I learned that you couldn’t underline words in a text box, so I quit the app and forgot about Sketch.
That was two years ago. I recently gave it another try, and this time it clicked! I realized that Sketch is more tuned to the digital design process. What seemed like deal breakers coming from Illustrator are just refinements and are easy to look past. For example, hanging quotes or typographic alternates. It’s cool that you can activate them in Illustrator, but the reality is that these are not well supported features on the web. Why show a typographic detail in a design mockup, when you know the real product will not show it?
Sketch’s UI shines at keeping things organized, and encourages you to stay organized. Type styles, easy export options, the symbol overrides black magic and an excellent attributes inspector help you stay sane. The ability to create pages or collections of art boards enable you to keep all versions of a design in a single file. When you drag an image into a Sketch project, it’s in the file and not merely ‘placed’ there. I could keep listing features, but that’s not what this post is about.
Illustrator is a great vector drawing and illustration tool, probably the greatest. But it’s not suitable for designing user interfaces in a multi-screen, multi-device world. So, I urge you to give Sketch another try. If you can look past the minor annoyances, Sketch is a fantastic tool for digital design. Pick a small web/UI project and follow the excellent free tutorials here to get started: