When it comes to design, there are a crazy number of tools out there to help you get the job done. Adobe has long established their presence in the world of design, and Photoshop and Illustrator stand tall as the de facto leaders among all.
Of course, the world does not end at Photoshop or Illustrator. However, with the slow and disappointing demise of Adobe Fireworks, and with Photoshop becoming less of a nimble tool, a void has indeed opened up for a design tool that can perform professional level work with just enough tools to get the work done.
This is where the wonderful Sketch comes in. Sketch, brought to us by Bohemian Coding, is rising in popularity with each passing day and though it is still pretty new compared to other mainstream design tools, yet it is gaining more and more users day by day.
What Makes Sketch Popular?
So, the big question here is: why is Sketch becoming popular? After all, it is just an app for Mac users – it is catering to a very limited audience and does not even show remorse for overlooking Windows and Linux users!
There are many reasons for this.
First, both Photoshop and Illustrator have become a little too bloated for many users. Beyond that, since Fireworks is no longer being updated, there is ample need for a design tool that can work with UI graphics without sacrificing agility. Sketch is trying to answer this very need.
Second, Sketch has simplified its GUI. It is not trying to compete with Photoshop — sure, comparisons continue to be made, but at the end of the day, Sketch is just acting as a UI and web graphics tool. Everything else that Photoshop does: Sketch cannot, and does not wish to do that either.
Third, Sketch has successfully embraced CSS logic. Credit must be given to its creators: Bohemian Coding have been around for quite a while, and even though they are an upstart when compared with Adobe, they still know their stuff. So while users are struggling converting Photoshop drop shadow to CSS drop shadow, Sketch is simply getting the job done with ease.
Fourth, Sketch is not your average “me too” design tool. It is available for $99 for Mac users, and that’s all. If you need something that is low on cholesterol and can help you out with UI or web graphics, you should consider Sketch.
If you do not need that or need more than that, do not bother with Sketch. It is as simple as it gets: and this means users of Sketch know exactly what to expect from their tool. Having a dedicated niche audience always helps!
The Future of Sketch
So, what does the future hold in store of Sketch?
While I am not a soothsayer, the future is steady for Sketch as a design app. Since it is bloat-free and seems to be gaining momentum, there is no reason why it will not continue its winning run.
That being said, Sketch does have certain factors that might eventually limit its growth. For example, as a design app, Sketch is perfect if you are working as an individual designer. However, for teams, especially distributed teams, Sketch is nearly impossible to integrate within the existing design workflow – unless your team is designing only for iOS platforms.
As of now, PSDs are quite popular, and if PSDs ever fall of out of favour, preference will be given to in-browser design, not design apps. Even more so, it is difficult to define Sketch in absolute terms. In fact, I can easily tell you what Sketch is “not”, rather than what Sketch is.
Sketch is not as powerful as Photoshop, Sketch is not as sophisticated as Illustrator, Sketch is not something that can ever become your primary design tool.
All said and done, Sketch is a fantastic tool that can be a good addition to your design arsenal, and can possibly double up as a good prototyping tool, but as of now, it cannot become the only tool for a serious-minded designer.
Ultimately, Sketch has come a long way, but it also has a long way to go, so is not a veteran in the field of design apps.
The key to success for Sketch is simple: for future releases, it needs to make further in-roads, but at the same time, it should never sacrifice its agile interface and bloat-free mode of operation. Since its pricing is competitive, Sketch just needs to project itself as an alternative addition to the design arsenal, and not necessary as an alternative to Adobe’s offerings.