Whether you are a novice or an experienced designer, the vast expanse of designing tools can seem overwhelming and even more daunting than the design work itself. In this guide, some of the most popular and useful options are explained for you.
Features: Mac design, Shared Styles (Reusable Elements), Layer Editing, Real-time Previews
This robust and versatile design tool is one of the most popular out there. The large community has opened doors for an open-source feel of app resources. The tool heavily focuses on UI design, which makes web, app, and product design more intuitive as you design.
Styling text, colors, and other repeating elements are easily accessible and the use of artboards and layers allows for quick and precise work.
Adobe has been the leader of design tools for years, and for a reason. Their design products come in the form of multiple options.
Adobe Photoshop Features: Robust Image Editor, Suitable for Web Design, Easy Interface, Mac & PC
Photoshop was initially created for (and is amazing at) photo editing. The interface takes a bit to learn to use but with such high popularity, tutorials and classes are available at a huge quantity.
Early web developers used Photoshop’s design options to by-pass the photo editing and skip right to graphic design because it was one of the only options. The tools for this purpose are available, but limited compared to new products created for web design or graphic design. Things like repeating elements, UI design, and other graphic/web design elements can be lacking.
Adobe Illustrator Features: Use of Vectors, Robust Illustrative Tools, Detail Oriented, Large Popularity and Support, Mac & PC
Just as the name implies, Adobe’s Illustrator has a hardy list of tools for illustrations. Most logos, cartoons, and other graphics are made on a tool like (if not on) Illustrator. Illustrator is based on vectors, meaning they can scale to be infinitely large without any pixelation because it doesn’t use pixels.
Although it has an infamously large learning curve, Illustrator is ridiculously powerful and has all the options you could dream of. Just like Photoshop, though, the design processes for web design are lacking. This tool is better used for logos, icons, or other vector graphics, not web pages. Many still use Illustrator for this purpose and is not to be mocked because of the power of Illustrator, but if UI design is important to you, other tools may be more fit for your work.
Features: App Design, Easy Style Guides, Slack integration, Easy Development Hand-Off
Zeplin, a product designed specifically for app design, is quickly becoming a popular choice. The exporting features and collaboration options are often sought after to help workflow and Zeplin is dedicated to help streamlining it. As for when you pass it off to the development stage, the web inspector and Sketch syncs are very helpful.
This tool is starting to grow into the web design field as well. Zeplin has gained fans quickly as an alternative to traditional options. The interface has less of a learning curve than other large tools like the Adobe products as well.
Features: Cross Platform Performance, Non-Destructive Effects, Good for Print Exporting, Non-Destructive, Intuitive Interface
Affinity has been explained as a mixture of the highlights of both Photoshop and Illustrator and has been rumored to be the software that will rise to the top. The learning curve is considerably less intense and the results can be just as amazing.
As for web design, the software offers artboard behavior when you change the size. These kind of features are important when designing responsive websites. The lower prices are also appealing in contrast to steep Adobe prices. The Affinity Designer is more akin to Illustrator in that it is popularly used for graphic design, icon design and web design over photo editing.
Features: Free, Vector Graphic Design, Mac & PC, Drawing Tools, Simple Interface
This free, open source product offers a relatively simple option that offers both graphic design options and photo editing. This product is a wonderful option for those needing simple graphics on a budget, who are beginner designers, and those who need a stepping stone to the more robust and complex design softwares.
Features: Online, Free, Template Options, Screen Design, Branding, Vector Illustration
This online design tool is another great stepping stone to more heavyweight designing tools. You can easily import photos and icons that Gravit supplies, as well as your own. The easy interface is meant for beginners, but also those who need to design on the go. It’s offered on your tablet and phone, too!
Let it be known that each design product has it’s pros and cons and have been designed to fit into different workflows. With each option comes stresses, reliefs, and a learning curve. Be prepared for these! But also be open to trying out new options that may work better for you.