What’s the best software for Visual Designers?
There’s tonnes of software out there claiming they’re the best for visual design and UI design. With all that hullabaloo, how do you cut through the noise and pick what’s best for you?
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular digital design tools on the market, and figure out which are the best for day to day tasks in the life of a visual or UI designer.
Sketch, the vector editor designed purely for Mac
👍 Easy to learn
👍 Regular updates
👍 Low subscription cost
👎 Mac only
👎 Pretty narrow choice of tools
Whether you’re creating pixel-perfect icons or coming up with concepts for a whole new product, Sketch has the basic tools you need to create some fab, if a bit basic, work. If you have a Mac, that is. If you’re on a PC, this isn’t going to do it.
It’s focused on screen design, particularly icons and interface elements for websites and apps. It can be used more generally, but its strength is creating slick user interfaces for mobile and desktop, so it might be a bit limiting if you’ve got grand visions for 360° branding.
You can get it for £99 per year on a single user license, or on multiple devices from £89 per year per device. It’s not cheap as chips, but it’s pretty good value compared to some of the heavy duty programs out there.
Design, prototype and get feedback all in one place
👍 Runs on any device
👍 Free to download
👍 Easy to pick up quickly
👍 Great for collaborating with teams or clients
👍 Snappy auto-template mode for speedy prototyping
👎 Runs a bit slower than a desktop app
👎 Search function is a little clunky
Unlike Sketch, Figma is a slick web app, so you can run it in a browser on pretty much any operating system. It’s also beginner-friendly, with lots of tips and tricks on their YouTube channel to help you unlock all their features.
The prototyping tools are much more in-depth, compared to Sketch and InVision, including transitions, micro-interactions and .gif animations. The mirror tool and app is particularly helpful, as you can see your screens in a real context, bringing them to life as you work.
Figma also trounces the competition when it comes to in-app collaboration. You can create team projects, share, comment, tracking teamwork in real time. This is why at Created we work with Figma on our Visual Design Courses.
The entire product design workflow: connected
👍 Instant feedback on sketching, wireframes and work in progress
👍 Super easy to export files
👍 Great collaboration tools and digital whiteboard
👍 Nice idea sharing and user flow features
👎 Pretty expensive
👎 Difficult to pick up quickly
👎 Basic prototypes
👎 Hard to share and give access to work
InVision is a big name, but it’s not always the best fit. It really depends on your skill level and project needs. It’s also super popular: so with its limited customer support, you might struggle to get answers to your questions.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s a powerful app, with some real pulling power when it comes to web and app design. It’s collaboration tools make it really easy to work in real-time, with great sharing features and file export processing.
The user flow feature is a great highlight too, and it’s simple as can be to get quick feedback on work in progress. It can handle teams of all sizes, but at £15 per month per user, it’s definitely one of the pricier options out there.
The biggest beef we have with Invision is the time it takes to learn it. It’s definitely not a tool you can pick up and use instantly. The prototypes are kind of primitive too, compared to other software, with lackluster mockups that just click through like a sad PowerPoint presentation…
Other software to think about
👍 Loads of prototyping features.
👍 Great value for money.
👍 Easy sharing prototypes.
👎 You’ll need loads of plugins.
👎 No way of exporting to Sketch.
👎 Fewer design tools than other software.
👍 Super simple to use.
👍 Killer search function.
👍 Helpful default icon settings.
👎 Limited file formats.
👎 Shape tools are pretty basic.
👎 Not many font options.
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