Being a UX designer with a windows laptop, I started off my UI UX journey in Photoshop. I still remember those days when I had separate Photoshop files for each screen.  Then Photoshop released CC 2017 update with added the much-awaited artboard feature. But there were times when I felt hopeless while changing hundreds of layers to see how a different style would look. Even though Photoshop is one of the most used UX software in windows, it never connected with me.

I heard about Sketch 3 in 2016 and I wanted to give it a shot but couldn’t afford a MacBook then (I am a student doing my undergrad), so I let it go. But I confronted Sketch 3 once again when I started doing my internship at a UX agency. Seeing everyone use Sketch intrigued me and made me even more curious to get my hands on it.

But should I really spend a fortune to buy a Mac just for a software? Are there any windows alternatives to Sketch? Should I not buy a Windows laptop which offers me much higher hardware specs and still save enough money to buy a new phone maybe? I feel a lot of you would have been confronted with similar thoughts.

Well, I made up my mind and shelled out 1.5 Lakh₹ (2200$ + TAX) and got a Mac and purchased Sketch 3. So, it’s been about half a year since I started using Sketch and YES, the switch was worth it! Comparing Sketch and Photoshop isn’t really fair, as Sketch was made for UX and Photoshop wasn’t (Which Adobe is trying to make up for with the launch of Adobe XD CC).

“Using Sketch gave me a feeling of connection with the software. A feeling that it was designed for ME”  

Well enough about my experience. Let’s talk about what makes Sketch 3 the right software for you.

Styles

One of the features which improves productivity of the designer are styles. Gone are the days where you had to select 100s of layers across your artboard to try a different color or text style. 

Styles functions like CSS classes. When you apply certain attributes to an object in a Sketch file, you can save these attributes by creating a ‘style’. This style can now be applied across multiple items in your file. Want to try a different color? Or change the font size? Make the change in one layer and replicate it across all layers with a single click! Awesome, right?

Styles are of 2 types – Text Styles and Shared Styles. Styles can also be grouped by using slash symbol ‘/’.

Symbols

Another important feature of Sketch is Symbol. Symbol is Sketch’s take on introducing reusability. Symbols are very easy to use. You can select a group of objects are convert them into a symbol. Now this symbol can be used multiple times across your file.  

Sketch-Symbols

Symbols can be used when you wish to use same elements across multiple artboards. It reduces file size and helps in retaining consistency across artboards. Symbols come with a powerful feature called Override. In situations where groups are getting repeated but with different data, overrides come into play. You can alter texts and images in the symbols added to the artboard.

All the symbols created are added to a separate page in your file. Any modifications made in a symbol will be reflected across the file. Symbols can also be used to create multiple states of a design element and can be swapped in the artboard.

Plug-Ins

Sketch provides an API which allows developers create plug ins for sketch. If you feel that there is a feature which is missing in Sketch, there’s a good chance that someone made a plug in for it. List of all plug ins can be found in Sketch Plug-in Directory.

These are some of the coolest sketch plug ins out there –

Craft by Invision:

Craft is a plug-in powerhouse which connects your sketch artboard to Invision. It has tons of features like creating a design library from your artboards, lets you add real data to your elements, sync your artboards with Invision, create clickable prototypes with great transitions and much more.

Get Craft

Map Generator:

This plugin takes location and zoom level from you and automatically fills the selected shape with a google map image. You can add style codes to personalize your map.

Get Map Generator

Content Generator:

Filling dummy content is always a trouble. This plug in lets you generate random info like phone numbers, money, names, profile pictures and a lot more.

Get Content Generator

Runner:

This is another super plug-in for Sketch. It lets you speed up your workflow by allowing you to do a lot of actions directly from a search bar. It can do actions like switching to a page, jumping to an artboard, finding layers by name, installing or using a plug-in and lots more.

Get Runner

Crystal:

Crystal lets you view your artboards on your Android device live. All you need to do is to install crystal app on your android phone.

Get Crystal

 


You can read this article for more such plug ins – 30 free Sketch plugins to grab right now


Exporting

Sketch has inbuilt exporting options for every object in your workspace. You can select the export format and scale for each object. You can even export an object in multiple formats and scale. Combining it with a software like Zeplin or Invision, it makes designer – developer communications a lot easier. These softwares let the developers view the designs, download exportable elements, view dimensions of all objects as well as extract CSS (or other format) codes.

Sketch-exportable

Touch Bar Integration

If you are a MacBook Pro user with Touchbar, you are in for a treat. Sketch has implemented TouchBar support beautifully giving quick access to actions based on context. The smart TouchBar options really improve your productivity and make your life a lot easier.

Sketch Bonus Content

So we have come to the end of my blog. Well, it doesn’t end here. Following are the links to some of the websites with best free resources for sketch to get you started –

Sketch Resources – https://www.sketchappsources.com/, https://sketchrepo.com/, http://sketchfreebie.com/

Sketch Documentation – https://sketchapp.com/docs/

Advanced Tutorial – https://www.udemy.com/learnsketch3/