Why Sketch is taking off with app developers

Sketch app logo

Sketch? What’s all that, then?

Sketch is a digital design app for Mac users that can be used for UI, mobile, web builds and icon design. In their own words, it is a ‘design digital toolkit built to help you create your best work.’ Designers have been eulogising Sketch since its launch in 2010, but it’s becoming increasingly popular within the app development community, too (our very own designer, Mark, is trying it out as we speak).

But before we get into that, let’s go over a few reasons why Sketch is now a serious rival to Photoshop in the web design stakes:

  • Sketch is vector-based

This means any shape created by the designer can be resized to any dimension without loss of visual fidelity. The image stays sharp even on a retina or super-high DPI screen.

  • It has a whole world of plugins

The Sketch community is broad and deep and has generated a nigh-on infinite number of plugins to make workflows smoother and quicker.

  • Its prototyping function

Sketch allows designers to preview their work so they can see it in action before their users do.

  • Its licensing system

Not only is Sketch easy to use, it’s easy to buy. One piece of software, one yearly fee, all the updates you could ever need.

Macbook with app development coding

Sketch for app development

So, yep, Sketch is a designer’s paradise, allowing them to quickly and easily work within design guidelines and enhance brand strategy delivery. But it’s also been garnering a lot of support in the web and app development world, too.

There’s little a developer hates more than being finally handed a design file – a file that may well consume the coming weeks and months of their lives – only to find it’s of a programme they’re not familiar with.

Inspired by Sketch’s simple, streamlined UI, developers are venturing into design territory without feeling lost (y’know, much as we all feel when speaking to a developer about code…). Sketch actually functions much like a developer tool, made as it is of basic building blocks that can be moved around, moulded and manipulated quickly and easily. This means developers feel more at home using Sketch because it feels like something with which they’re already familiar.

Best for both worlds?

According to this article by @nielsjonathan, Sketch’s simple use of shapes, its non-destructive editing (which allows for all kinds of whacky experimentation without damaging the goods!) and the ability to copy an element’s style as CSS attributes makes Sketch as functional for a developer as it does a designer.

Other basic developer elements such as selecting, measuring, exporting and zooming are also simplified through Sketch, either through the use of intuitive shortcut commands or clever in-programme features. For example, Sketch’s export system allows you to easily export layers, artboards and slices – with the export settings travelling with the file and saving on repeat work.

For designers, Sketch combines an innumerable amount of options to allow for incredible levels of customisation, whilst its easily navigable UI and simple user experience means developers needn’t feel daunted when the design file lands in their lap. Sketch, then, has positioned itself not only as a great design tool but one that’s increasingly relevant for developers, too.