What’s free, easy to use, reliable, offers a great experience and has a whole host of features that makes it a software powerhouse?… Adobe XD! Despite it’s early, slow, and “late to the party” start, I do believe, Adobe has waited and developed something amazing for any designer to get stuck into – especially for those with any UI/UX needs.
From my own experience, I can happily tell you that it excites the heck out of me (even the title is the excitement emoji 😆) and this is why…
Adobe XD is one of the more recent additions to the UI/UX design software realm, competing against the likes of Sketch, Figma, etc. If you have ever used any of these before and or have used Photoshop or illustrator to draft up wireframes and/or designs, maybe it’s time to have a look at this application!
XD offers a whole host of features, similar to those of Sketch plus more, that can be used to streamline any design. Of these features is the ability to create components/universal styles, use plugins to create data visualisations, create faster mockups, and even prototyping with optional client feedback or sending over detailed reviews for the Dev team.
For me, one of XD’s best features is the ability to prototype your designs. With other applications of similar uses, you usually have to combine the software with external applications to get the same outcome between design and prototyping, but with XD, this process has been streamlined – you can link up your artboards and demonstrate the User Journey with ease. Doing this brings to life your product and lets you focus on the journey outside of the norm. This can be shared internally and with your client over a private or public link, which then allows the viewer to add “hotspot” comments/feedback… Think like an interactive PDF without the excessive file size, similarity to the actual end product and lack of complexity.
“XD is a powerful tool that can help blur the lines between design and development. Prototypes built using XD can clearly illustrate intent and interaction to developers, meaning they can start thinking about the build before the high fidelity design is even completed.” – Imran Afzal, User Experience Manager, Otto UK
Adobe XD is like a mixture of its competitors with the user experience of Adobe products themselves. I find myself enjoying the familiar but stripped back UI; it lets you focus on the task at hand. Don’t get me wrong, it’s in no way unique or groundbreaking at all – but it doesn’t need to be. It’s simple and you can push the boundaries yourself with its many 3rd party plugins.
Here at Blueclaw, we are big on making data both easy to digest and engaging, so here are three of my favourite plugins:
Google Sheets :
Using real data, you can merge the elements of your design with dynamic real data, allowing teams to collaborate more efficiently.
This plugin allows you to search for base images while still in the application. It’s great for sourcing placeholder images on the fly.
Vizzy Charts :
Using CSVs, you can create a quick and basic chart using this plugin. I find myself using this and then advancing the design myself. It’s an easy way to implement data without starting from scratch.
While the plugin options are fantastic, the best thing about XD is that all the tools you generally need are already included. Along with the basics, some easy playing around you will uncover helpful, more advanced tools to speed up your workflow and even work with other designers.
These more advanced tools consist of:
Of course, there are more, but I find these to be part of the reason why I always come back. If you want to see a full list of what XD can do, then check out its full list of features.
“Introducing Adobe’s vision in a standalone app for interaction design. The community and team behind XD have gained a tremendous amount of momentum within this space, rivalling the likes of Sketch and InVision. I’ve personally been using AdobeXD since its initial beta release (early 2016), and it’s safe to say the platform has come on leaps and bounds since then.” – Suliman Khan, UX Designer, Hippo Digital UK
I have been using XD for over 6 months now, and no matter how much I throw at it, it appears to be seamless. I’ve used large images, plenty of artboards, lots of interactions, endless components… yet it continues to work smoothly. I also have an extensive list of plugins, and even then it doesn’t want to give up – no lag, nothing.
It’s so reliable, we feel very comfortable in sharing XD files and reviews around. With, what I imagine are magic computer elves at work, the file sizes are super compressed, which allows us to handover work to other designers with ease and no loss of data. Plus with saving to the cloud, anything you might think would be lost is automatically linked here. With even more magic, if a component becomes unlinked, it will somehow still be there with just a missing link prompt which you can then save locally anyway.
Oh yeah, just in case you missed it, its free! Other applications of the same nature that offer almost the same generally come with a subscription fee or a form of payment plan. XD seems, to me, to offer the same and more without having to include other apps.
For example, prototyping: previously you had to export from your design software (Photoshop, Sketch) and then spend time uploading to Invision… and of course, repeat every time there is an amendment. With XD, this has been completely been incorporated and built-in.
You can switch between design and prototype with a click, do a simple edit on the fly and see the journey all under the prototype tab. It’s just so simple and easy as well as quick and under one hood. Plus, everything is all in high res glory… Win-win I say!
“We use Adobe XD to mock-up designs for our websites and learning management systems – these designs are then sent off to the developers, who bring these designs to life. Adobe XD is the best choice for us because of its ease of use for both our designer and clients.
Adobe XD gives you the ability to create prototypes which can be sent off to the client for feedback. We can even attribute comments to certain parts of the design to talk through our creative choices and gain seamless feedback. Additionally, clients can get user group feedback so they can test it against their own target audience.” – Kaine Shutler, Managing Director, Plume™
In summary, Adobe XD took its time and saw an opening in the market. To me, they are leading the way. Its continuous approach to updates is useful and isn’t just bug fixes – the third-party plugins are ever-expanding and such time savers.
What began for me as a tool to wireframe is now my go-to product for most of my design work. This is a tool for communication, to streamline that important area between design, Dev, content, account management and the client, and to ensure everything is focused and everyone is happy.
Fancy talking Adobe XD? Drop me a line, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If not, keep an eye on the Blueclaw blog for an upcoming tutorial on how you can use XD to create a basic 2 wireframe with a modal.