Sketch: An In-Depth Review of Its Interface, Tools and Functionality

Posted on December 28, 2023 | Updated on December 28, 2023

Sketch is a UI design tool that’s become a mainstay for UI design professionals. It’s given designers a space to create interactive interfaces while clients can get a preview before it goes live. In turn, it allows you to gain helpful feedback to meet user and client expectations. Sketch is a powerful tool that many designers love. Yet, before you invest in it, it’s beneficial to know all the features it carries.

An Overview of Sketch’s Interface

When you open Sketch, you’re greeted by a clean interface that’s easy to use. Everything is labeled clearly, so you can focus on creating rather than sifting through menus. On the left side, there’s a list of layers and assets, making it easy to see your project’s elements at a glance. The right side houses the Inspector. This is where you can take a closer look at your creation and tweak the properties of the selected elements. 

The toolbar at the top provides quick access to tools and various functions. For example, the toolbar includes a plus symbol to launch the Vector, Shapes and Pencil tools. You can even customize the toolbar by dragging and dropping items you may want to add to it for later. 

Meanwhile, the center of the interface is where you can view your designs. It shows the artboards and all the layers you create, giving an overview of your project’s various screens or pages. That way, you can avoid clicking through tabs and see everything in one space.

Essentially, Sketch’s interface gives you everything you need to create intuitive designs efficiently. Plus, the designs are easy to hand off to other team members or to use across multiple projects. Therefore, it’s the go-to software for professionals. 


What Tools Does Sketch Provide?

Sketch offers a wide range of tools that cater to a UI designer’s needs. The cornerstone of this application is the vector editing tool — it allows users to create any shape needed with precision. It even supports bézier curves and other advanced vector manipulations if you’re drawing icons or different intricate designs.

The text tool in Sketch is also robust, providing designers with the ability to add and customize typography within their designs. This includes adjusting font size, creating a path to follow another vector shape, and more. 

Another powerful feature is Sketch’s Style. This feature allows for adding layers, blur effects, borders and more. Designers can apply these styles to multiple elements, so you can make your designs unique in a shorter time. 

The color picker and gradient editor tools are also noteworthy. They offer you an entire spectrum of colors and the ability to create smooth color transitions. With this, you can add more depth and dimension to your designs. 

If you’re doing interface design specifically, Sketch’s grid and layout tools are helpful. They enable designers to create aligning and spacing elements to your exact needs. The Artboards are also an important feature, as they allow for the design of multiple screens within one workspace. 

The Advanced Features and Functionality of Sketch

Sketch has advanced features that push what designers can achieve with digital tools. One such advanced feature is its symbol system. This part of Sketch allows designers to create reusable components. 

You can nest them, meaning you can build one within another, allowing you to create your own systems for design. This is especially useful for UI designers who must create consistent interfaces across large projects. You can even update a master symbol, and all instances across your document will update automatically. That way, you maintain consistency in your designs.

Another functionality that Sketch offers is its prototyping capabilities. Designers can link artboards to simulate user flows and interactions within the app. This enables you to create basic, usable prototypes without needing to switch to a different tool or write code. 

Therefore, you have an easy way to test your design concept, which is especially crucial for mobile sites. Designers must ensure their websites are created for mobile-first designs since 63% of website traffic came from these devices in 2021. 

The application also includes a Responsive Design feature, where you can create designs that adapt to different screen sizes. With Sketch’s constraints and resizing options, elements within your design will automatically adjust based on the artboard’s size. This is particularly useful when creating digital products for different devices. 

Exploring Its Integration Capabilities and Plugins

If you’d like to turn Sketch into a powerhouse for your workflow and designs, the tool allows you to expand its capabilities with various plugins and integrations. For instance, even though the platform has its own prototyping capabilities, you can integrate with InVision and Marvel for high-end prototyping. 

It also works well with tools like Notion and Jira. So, if you’re working with a team, you can keep track of projects, note feedback and build workflows. You can even integrate it with developer handoff tools like Zeplin and Abstract. These tools work for translating design elements into code-friendly formats. This makes the transition from design to development much smoother. 

However, Sketch also has its own system of plugins for automation or adding new design elements and more. For example, Runner streamlines your workflow by allowing you to search and execute commands quickly. Others, like Paddy, manage padding and spacing automatically. This plugin is incredibly useful for interface design if you want to save time. 

There are also data-populating plugins, such as Craft by InVision. This fills your designs with realistic sample data, saving time and helping you create more lifelike mockups for demos and testing. 

The Pros and Cons of Using Sketch

Sketch has lots of amazing features for you to explore. Yet, when considering it as a design tool, here are some pros and cons you should know.

Pros

  • User-friendly interface: Sketch has an intuitive interface that is easy for beginners to learn. Yet, it’s also powerful enough for advanced users.
  • Vector-based: It’s excellent for creating scalable vector graphics, which are ideal for UI/UX design today.
  • Collaboration: Sketch Cloud allows for easy sharing and collaboration on designs with team members. 
  • Prototyping: Built-in prototyping tools enable designers to create interactive models of their designs without additional software.

Cons

  • Exclusively for Mac: Sketch is unavailable for Windows or Linus, which can be limiting for cross-platform teams.
  • No print design features: It’s not ideal for print or multi-page document design, as it’s focused more on UI design.
  • Cost: It requires a paid license. Although it’s only $99 upfront, it’s still an investment for some.
  • Limited prototyping capabilities: While Sketch features prototyping, it’s not as advanced as those found in specialized prototyping software. 

Is Sketch Right for You?

Deciding if Sketch is right for you boils down to your design needs and environment. It excels in digital and interface design and has much room for customization. However, if you require cross-platform functionality, you may need to consider alternatives. Overall, Sketch is a great choice, especially when leveraging an easy but powerful tool. 


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