Designers and Their Tools

With the end of Adobe Fireworks now officially in sight I decided to give Sketch a try. I've always used Adobe products for design because that's all I knew existed when I started out. Fireworks has given me the ability to both explore different directions and produce polished designs quickly. However, it has also given me headaches because of poor performance with large files and other shortcomings.

When I first heard of Sketch months ago I wasn't sure it would be worth spending the time required to learn another design tool. All I need is something that can draw shapes. How different can it be? But now that change is at my doorstep I'm glad it's here.

Designed for the web

It's easy to see that the team behind Sketch gets it; what's created in the program will be used for the web. Styling based on CSS allows designers to get one step closer to designing "in the browser" without actually having to do so. I want to see what something will look like on the web, but that doesn't mean I have to the time to build it right away.

There are a good amount of features that save designers time. Want to draw a rectangle? Tap the "R" key and draw. Want to lock the ratio of one shape but not the other? It's in there. There are even options when exporting your image that give you the ability to create retina versions of your composition, eliminating the need to resize and save again. And while the program isn't perfect, it's fast enough to not make me miss Fireworks.

The best design tools are the fastest

What I look for in a design tool is the ability to create and iterate as fast as I can think. A good designer explores all options to understand why something does or doesn't work. This requires time, and the less time I spend tinkering with a design tool's interface the more time I can spend making my design better.

You don't become a designer by mastering a design tool

I used to list the Adobe Creative Suite as a skill on my resume. But knowing how to use a tool doesn't mean you know how it can help you create something of value, much like how a hammer doesn't give you instructions on how to build a comfortable chair.

Now I simply think of myself as a designer, agnostic to any particular tool, approaching problems in whichever method I deem best. I'm more than someone who has experience with a variety of design tools; I know how to create engaging experiences using the tools I'm afforded.

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