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Noteworthy19th September 2020

15 years of Photoshop, 5 years of Sketch, why I quickly made a switch to Figma

Roundup –

My experience with design tools and how you become required to learn more than 1 tool.

Figma

I used Photoshop for absolutely everything. Designers, myself included, held onto it with an underestimated passion, gripped by the insecurity of change and that Photoshop would always be the answer to "Can you edit this?", "Can you design this?", "Can you crop my selfie?".

Photoshop was the go-to tool for anything skuomorphic, web 2.0 and into the era of flat design. In the days of web 2.0, we found a new way in Photoshop to harness component based design. You could open a little photoshop file, edit and save, and then those changes would be mirrored in the master file. This changed a lot of lives; it saved time doing an account managers requested text amend in the footer of over 15 template files. Ughh!

I DON'T NEED NEW TOOLS, I CAN DO ANYTHING IN PHOTOSHOP!

Roughly 6 or 7 years ago, I jumped on the Sketch bandwaggon just because everyone else was - like a good little sheep. It served a great purpose for flat design as well as component driven design too.

The designers in the community started experimenting with taking a "less is more" perspective as gospel, just because some fancy, innovative CEO said it, RIP.

That was a game changer in the industry. Thousands of designers now having the same pursuasive arugments with clients and colleagues to listen to their whit and the fact that the industry isn't doing 3D-esque gradient buttons with 80% dropshadows anymore. "It has to be flat, it makes webpages faster" – shouts the 17 year old millenial designer from the corner of the office.

Sketch, I thank you for making better designers, myself included. Be proud you got that in the bag. You allowed us to think about design for the web differently, you opened our minds to be more kindly to developers by giving them assets and CSS attributes. You progressed your software with new features and libraries that sped up our processes.

Figma Figma Figma

In a previous agency I worked for, I worked with a group of designers and we were told to give Figma a try. It was in its infancy at the time but it looked quite promising, though it did lack some of the features of Sketch so I never used it again after I left that company. This was a few years ago.

I've been a Sketch user for several years now and even to this date, similarly to the Photoshop principles we had tattooed to our core, I can't let it go quite easily.

However, in the current team I'm working with (at the time of writing), we do everything in Figma, from Wireframing to UI Design, and I've designed several projects in it now. So now that I've been somewhat forced to use it, it feels really familiar because of Sketch. The progress they've made to the platform, which is accessible via both their desktop app and web app, I feel like it's surpassed Sketch. Not just that, but Figma is dependent on an internet connection since all your design files are stored within Figma's cloud storage. This enables multi-user design collaboration.

This can be seen as both a positive and negative. Like, what happens if your office loses the internet for a day (we've all been there) – which I believe isn't a strong enough reason to be against it.

From a price point, Figma is slightly more expensive than Sketch, but there are several tools within Figma that actually make it cheaper from an agency perspective.

If you're using Sketch, you need animation tools like Principle. Presentation tools like Invision. The costs add up to: a lot.

Figma, has all of that included, say in the long run its more cost effective. Say no more. Figma, you rock!

Conclusion...

It's apparent that designers can't cling onto a single tool out of passion or spite. We have to LEARN • ADAPT • OVERCOME. Getting to grips with multiple tools will help your career without a doubt. Some agencies demand certain tools. Some clients do too.

That's 3 tools to accomplish the same thing at the end of the day. The pressure is on right? Now imagine, you do print & packaging design too. Or you're a developer as well as a designer. There's a lot to take in and you must keep moving forward!

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