Switching to Sketch

Posted by Robbie Knight on 08/07/2017

Needless to say –  things have changed a lot since I first started designing in 1998.

Back then, my design process began by opening Adobe Photoshop 5 to create a website. I would start placing photos and text until I was happy. I would copy over an element from one Photoshop document to another for each page of the site. There wasn't much thought into why I placed things where I did, other than "that looks pretty good" (rest assured, this isn’t the case nowadays).

Back40 Graphic Designer Robbie at work

I've learned a lot since then. I constantly read design articles, watch design videos on YouTube, and listen to design podcasts. Every day I learn something new. Sometimes it's as simple as a new key command to speed up my workflow, other times it's as complex as learning an entirely new application.

Sketch, a website design application

Sketch: My Newest Website Design Tool

Recently, we (the designers at Back40) took a pretty big leap and decided to scrap Photoshop and Illustrator for web design – we still use them for print and photo editing. 

What are we using instead? A new up-and-comer app called Sketch. Their website puts it best, "Sketch gives you the power, flexibility, and speed you always wanted in a lightweight and easy-to-use package. Finally, you can focus on what you do best: Design."

We have been working in this new application for a few months, and although we are still working out our process, I can honestly say this is the web design app I have been waiting for (not an ad). Not only does it make updates and changes to the designs simpler, it just makes more sense. The app itself is designed to be a tool for designers who build products for end users. Photoshop and Illustrator were never truly intended to be used for web design. Designers figured out ways to make it work. Sketch was built from the ground up to be that missing tool.

Back40 website design in Sketch

My Favorite Features:

  • Shared Styles 
    This allows us to make changes to colors and font styles across an entire document in a couple of clicks
  • Nested Symbols 
    This lets us create reusable elements like buttons to ensure consistency
  • Prototyping 
    This lets us create limited functional prototypes that help us better understand the functionality of the site

We also have our eyes on a few other apps that could make our process even more streamlined and help us deliver a better end result to our clients. Only time will tell. But, I look forward to continue learning new things.