Leading screen design tool in 2018

9 days ago from , User Interface Designer

What do you think is going to be the leading design tool in 2018? With the release of InVision Studio, Sketch 5 and now a new tool from Framer? (December 20th). I'm wondering just who will be the industry-leading design tool? Whats your thoughts

41 comments

  • Tyson KingsburyTyson Kingsbury, 7 days ago

    for me, hands down, it's Figma.

    couldn't agree with you guys more... It amazes me how fast Figma is, how versatile.... One thing I'm hoping for in the next year or so would be some limited animation etc... being able to prototype animations etc would be great. And seeing as how Framer is going forward with their vector stuff, to me it would make sense to see Figma digging in on that side of the equation as well (getting more involved with some animation etc)

    anyhow, it certainly blows the doors down on using photoshop for design... and adobe XD? good lord, why? unless and until they go the web route like Figma, i have no interest...despite having had high hopes when they started. for me, it was all about the 'ease of use' and the hand-off. I needed something that was as familiar to me as using photoshop or illustrator, and equally, something I could easily share with my developers. Figma excells at both. Inside one afternoon I was able to quickly get the hang of it, and immediately share the work with my dev team on the other side of town. No need to pray they had photoshop and could understand what I'd done...no explaining 'this jpg means x' etc.... just send the link, or share it, and they had full access to what I was working on, could see the code and copy it themselves... blew my developers minds...they loved it instantly....

    30 points
    • brennan smith, 7 days ago

      I agree with this. Figma's components and the handling of instances is the main reason that made me switch from Sketch.

      3 points
      • Thomas Lowry, 7 days ago

        Ever gone back to Sketch to an old project after moving to Figma. It is amazing how many times you start double-clicking symbols to edit them...makes you realize how much more sense the "Figma way" makes sense.

        2 points
    • Bruce V, 7 days ago

      I never realized how much time I wasted uploading to Zeplin and Invision until I tried Figma. I love that once I make a change it's automatically updated for my prototypes and dev hand-off.

      4 points
    • Andrew RichardsonAndrew Richardson, 7 days ago

      The "here's the link" aspect of Figma is a bigger deal than most people think. Being able to have one source of truth that everyone can check into at any time is incredible.

      I've never had a better presentation experience either, especially with the simple prototyping tool that they recently built. It helps so much to be able to actually click on a button and have it actually go to the page it's supposed to rather than "So when they click here, it's going to go to... scrolling around to find the screen... here".

      On top of that the library system is amazing.

      4 points
    • Thomas Lowry, 7 days ago

      I'm there with you!

      0 points
  • Matt C, 7 days ago

    Sketch is still the clear winner imo out of all the tools. The last couple of updates have been huge. Plugin support and network effect also means it will always be at least as good as anything else.

    Figma is catching up fast and will likely become my primary tool in 2018 due to the fact that I'm a Windows user at home. It's an extremely good tool.

    Adobe XD is very bad, and I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would use it. Even if they accomplish their entire 2018 roadmap it will still be bad. How do they have so many engineers working on this thing with such a teeny tiny amount of improvement?

    Framer is cool, but by the time I'm making something in Framer I may as well just code it myself (this could change depending on how much the design portion is improved).

    Axure is still by far the best prototyping tool out there, hands down. I don't see it losing that title in 2018 unless Framer goes crazy with features.

    I think Invision Studio is going to be bad. Mostly because I think their existing apps are bad (clunky, bloated).

    Edit: I actually forgot about Photoshop. You should not be using Photoshop for UX/UI design.

    17 points
    • Samantha S, 7 days ago

      I don't know why Axure has such a bad rep, it is a swiss army knife and gets the job done. The team version control is excellent as well.

      2 points
      • Jared CJared C, 5 days ago

        Because it doesn't look pretty or make pretty things (for the most part).

        3 points
    • Josiah TullisJosiah Tullis, 6 days ago

      You find InVision's existing product clunky and bloated? That's odd– I'd describe it as the exact opposite.

      1 point
    • Mike ChambersMike Chambers, 3 days ago

      @matt "Adobe XD is very bad"

      I would love to hear more thoughts on this (that I could share with the team). We did have a period for a couple of months through the summer where we were focusing on bring the Windows version up to parity with Mac, and there were not a lot of new features added to the mac build. That has passed though, and we are back with our monthly release cadence.

      But, there is still a lot of work to do. Any specific feedback / input you have would be helpful in prioritizing them.

      (You can see a current list of all items on our user voice: https://adobexd.uservoice.com/)

      0 points
  • Renato de LeãoRenato de Leão, 7 days ago

    I tried Figma today, for real as in real client project, with my 2013 macbook. All I've got to say is:

    Bow to the new King and Lord Commander of Design Tools

    15 points
  • Stef KorsStef Kors, 7 days ago

    I read the titles as "Loading screen design tool" wouldn't be surprised if there is a mac app to design loading screens...

    9 points
  • Todd FTodd F, 7 days ago

    All these things should be categorized as "phone screen design tools". They're all incredibly narrow in focus and thought, and poorly prepared for the near future.

    6 points
    • Ivan BjelajacIvan Bjelajac, 7 days ago

      Why do you feel they're narrow? I for instance feel like Sketch is a very open tool that supports a lot of workflows with it's plugins and so on...

      2 points
      • Darren Treat, 7 days ago

        Honestly, Todd Makes a good point.

        To me, I love Sketch, but the lack of native Responsive re-flow makes me have to go out and make multiple sketch pages (Read: Do everything twice) for mobile and desktop. This seems simple but for complex apps it's a total pain and when you make a change somewhere, you have to duplicate it elsewhere.

        Now, Invision Studio claims to take an approach at that and advertise support for it.

        Personally, everything else Invision makes feels terribly awkward and bloated so my hopes for Studio are insanely low.

        4 points
      • Todd FTodd F, 7 minutes ago

        Just pointing out that Sketch and it's peers are not UX tools - They're tools for making graphic designs (which may be one part of a user's experience with your product, but are definitely not comprehensive). Actual user experiences are much more than just that.I think Sketch is fine at what it does, but who is going to create the tools for designing modern user experiences? Native prototyping and outputting code is a great addition to tools like Figma, but that's still pretty limited. AR? VR? VUI? Freeform gestures that don't involve touching a screen - how do you design for those in Sketch?

        0 points
  • Steven CavinsSteven Cavins, 7 days ago

    As great as everything appears to be going, I think I'd prefer to be loyal to the one I've been using for a year and see what happens when the dust settles. Bouncing around is fairly disruptive. This will be the case for a lot who require corporate buy-in.

    No matter what happens, I just hope the design community can avoid the impulse to gatekeep.

    4 points
  • Steve O'Connor, 7 days ago

    Depends on what you're trying to do I guess.

    I enjoy using Adobe XD or Sketch, but I'm usually using something like Axure RP as it has powerful conditional logic and dynamic content tools.

    I'm hoping Invision Studio or Subform will be a good combination.

    3 points
    • Samantha S, 7 days ago

      I don't know why Axure has such a bad rep on HN and is mostly missing from design tool discussions. My sense is that it is not popular with UX bootcamp type people who don't take the time to learn the tool and all its conditional logic greatness which is a godsend for handing off prototypes to any developer.

      2 points
      • Mitchell B, 7 days ago

        I've had to make some very very high fidelity prototypes before (for some demanding but low-tech-knowledge clients), and Axure was the perfect tool for that - If you need a list of employees, their salaries and pension contributions that you can edit and the prototype accurately calculates live, Axure is your tool.

        But I can definitely see how daunting the interface is if you just need static screens, especially compared to XD, Sketch or Figma.

        1 point
  • Colm TuiteColm Tuite, 7 days ago

    I'll propose 3 new tools which have not yet been mentioned.

    Modulz

    Compositor

    Interplay

    All 3 of these tools are optimised specifically for UI design and all 3 tools export production-ready code.

    3 points
  • George Brown, 7 days ago

    sketch 5? I don't think it's going to be an huge update though. If there was, they should have started promoting it

    3 points
  • Andre Navas, 7 days ago

    As a designer tool will always be a tool, what matters is the quality of the final result.

    But answering your question more objectively, I personally like and use Sketch, XD, Photoshop, depending on the project characteristics and proposal.

    2 points
    • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, 7 days ago

      Sure for the client the end result is all that matters, but for the designer, the developers, etc the tool has a huge impact on how quickly, efficiently, and cleanly you can build a design.

      You can paint a skyscraper with a toothbrush, but I'd much rather do it with a paint roller or spray, and I will get better results.

      If that wasn't the case, we would never develop new tools.

      0 points
      • Andre Navas, 6 days ago

        But what if you painting a skyscraper with toothbrush has a better visual result in the end, would you use a paint roller or spray, I would definitely use the toothbrush instead, but hey that's just me

        Not saying that a designer shouldn't be worry with time and handoff, just saying that the designer main concern should be always the quality of the work they are putting out, and not which tool is the best and I'm only going to use that for the rest of my life, thinking like that you as designer will never evolve, you will always be doing the same type of work, using different tools you get different results and therefore you can innovate and improve your skills.

        1 point
        • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, 6 days ago

          I think you are hearing the opposite of what I am saying. I am not saying stick with one tool, I am saying DON'T get hung up on one tool. There are lots of designers still using Photoshop for UI design and swear by it and make the argument that the tool doesn't matter, only the results and the designer's ability to use that tool.

          I would argue that in my analogy the toothbrush doesn't give you as good results. You aren't going to get as clean of an SVG from Photoshop as you will from Illustrator or Sketch or coding it yourself.

          I find that a lot of designers and developers are actually very hesitant to try new tools or workflows, and when I try to point out the distinct benefits they say "the tool does't matter, only the final result".

          See what I mean?

          0 points
          • Mitchell B, 6 days ago

            I'm baffled by how many people use Photoshop over Illustrator for UI designs. There are better tools than Illustrator, but Ai is already head and shoulders above Ps for interfaces. Do they just refuse to learn Ai? That said, I've been forced to use Powerpoint and Keynote for iOS apps before, which was literally a nightmare (seriously, I had dreams about endless pixel pushing)

            0 points
            • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, 5 days ago

              I think it's mostly familiarity for the majority, but there are some Photoshop experts on here like Marc Edwards from Bjango who is apparently working on another Sketch competitor.

              I will never use Photoshop for UI design, but to be fair it does do better exporting of bitmap content than Illustrator does (like gradients that are too complex for CSS).

              0 points
  • Eduardo Tello, 7 days ago

    I hope Sketch can keep up with the great features Figma already offers and what Studio is going to amaze us. For Framer, I don't know, not even excited for it - I like Principle the best so... not really a Framer user.

    2 points
  • Hansjan KamerlingHansjan Kamerling, 7 days ago

    It should not really matter, I recently was asked to deliver a design in Photoshop for a large company, it took me 20% more time than it would in more modern tool, but this cost was lower to them than changing their handover process.

    I think most designers with a bit of experience is able to work in any design tool easily. When given the choice I do still prefer Sketch, with the right plugins it feels really more like a power user tool to me than any other tools out there right now.

    1 point
  • Ryan CarterRyan Carter, 7 days ago

    I think we'll see Figma & Sketch reach roughly equal adoption by the end of next year. Something like 35-40% each, with Invision Studio / Framer / Photoshop / others filling in the rest.

    1 point
  • Eugene Paryhin, 6 days ago

    Figma is a game changer. With the rise of remote teams, it will definitely take a big piece of the pie. And tools like Sketch will just try to keep up. After Figma releases a new feature - they will clone it in a few months.

    Invision Studio - really don't understand the hype around it. It looks like Sketch with a few plugins integrated but comes from Invision - master of bloated software.

    1 point
  • Anton B.Anton B., 7 days ago

    Probably a little bit unorthodox, but in web design my personal favorites are Adobe XD + Webflow. Flexibility and the speed you can make an actual website prototype with them is incredible.

    1 point
  • Philip A, 7 days ago

    html and css i hope

    1 point
  • Todd Cantley, 7 days ago

    Sketch, Axure & Principle.

    1 point
  • Andrey Grabelnikov, 7 days ago

    Figma, if keep the same pace

    0 points
  • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, 7 days ago

    Currently struggling with deciding to adopt tools like Plant or Abstract with Sketch for dealing with other designers working on same files, or just switch everything over to Figma and drop our Sketch and Invision subscriptions.

    0 points
  • Tim Kjær LangeTim Kjær Lange, 7 days ago

    I don’t see any one tool owning all areas of interface design.

    I use these tools daily, don’t see that changing in the near future:

    Sketch for mockups.

    Invision for basic screen-to-screen prototypes. Production speed over fidelity.

    Framer for advanced prototypes that include sounds, camera acess, database sync etc. Fidelity over production speed.

    Axure for flowcharts.

    Both Framer and Invision are pushing to own all key aspects of interface design, but it will be tough for either to beat Sketch as the preferred tool to create mockups.

    0 points