Making it happen since 1988

Say hello to Sketch

By Adam Reynolds on Apr 27, 2015

Our experiences with a new web design tool

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new sheriff in town And his name is Sketch. We’d heard people talking about Bohemian Coding’s Sketch for a while and were becoming increasingly frustrated with the current Adobe programs when it came to web design. So, in the spirit of development and improvement in the Digital department, we decided it was worth taking a closer look. What follows is our experiences of the program to date.

I decided the best way to start was to dive straight into Sketch and begin designing, as I find I learn best by just using something. So I started recreating some designs that were originally made in Photoshop. I was amazed by how little time it took to do this and, for the most part, amending these documents was a breeze.

So, here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of Sketch:

The Pros

  • Easy Prototyping – It’s easier and faster to create prototypes of apps when you team it up with InVision (another tool we use – more on this in another post soon)
  • Quicker concept and mockups – Again, easier and faster to create responsive design concepts and mockups that work on the web
  • Simplified interface – Getting used to a new interface is never easy but Sketch’s is clear and simple, in fact it’s quite stark compared to Photoshop. As it’s simple, it’s much easier to pick up. Who needs all those options anyway?
  • Clear art board – All responsive art boards are visible in the one file, much like Illustrator (even a whole website in one file!)
  • Small file size – Smaller file sizes for your web project can only be a good thing
  • Handy style sheet – You can use pages to store your web assets and create a style sheet
  • Updating symbols – A symbol is similar to Photoshop’s smart objects in the sense that is can be copied multiple times in your document and if you update one version it will update them all. This is handy for keeping things consistent, because navigation and global elements can be edited across all designs at once.
  • It also saves valuable time on those niggly amends. And, by using styles for a button, typography or an object, you can collate them all in one place to create a master style sheet.
  • It’s cheaper – Sketch is much cheaper than Adobe software with a one-time cost.

But it’s not all rosy – here are the cons

  • No linked files – With Indesign you can treat your assets as if they are links, keeping them tidy in one folder. But currently in Sketch there isn’t a linked file functionality. So if you change an image, you have to manually edit/amend it in Sketch without it updating automatically.
  • Some bugs – As it’s new, it’s still a little ‘buggy’ and it doesn’t seem to handle complex vector graphics. That’s why I think we still need Illustrator for the extra-refined vector tools that can be imported into Sketch afterwards.
  • Problems with gradients – Currently there isn’t as much control over gradients as you would enjoy with other programs.
  • New shortcut keys – OK, this is a minor one, but you have to learn a bunch of new keyboard shortcuts. Or at least I did!

Conclusion

We’ve been using Sketch on live projects for over a month now and we’ve got to grips with most of it. This isn’t a tool that will completely wipe out the Adobe Creative Cloud programs, but it will give digital designers a more focused set of tools when combined with Photoshop for image editing and Illustrator for its vector greatness.

Sketch will hopefully bring some much-needed competition to the market. Watch out for this one as it’s soon to be a big player in a digital designer toolbox. And although there are a few negatives to this new program, I’m sure that these will be sorted out in future updates.

Update

Since writing this article Sketch has released a new update 3.1. Find out what they have improved / changed here: http://bohemiancoding.com/sketch/support/updates/