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Hacking UX Power tools

UX Planet — Medium | Jack Strachan

Straight from a student’s tool-box

**With the recent release of InVision Studio I thought it would be a great chance to briefly hack through the UX Power tools that have empowered us and our designs.**

Once upon a time your go to tool was from the Adobe suite, you would spend hours getting lost in the myriad of possibilities each program offered. Losing selections or paths you hadn’t saved, duplicating layers for the same shape, finishing your project with the filename “Final_Final_Version6” or simply spending a lifetime figuring out the pen tool on Photoshop.

Then the competition came. The needs of designers have always the same but our focus has changed. As we became more user centred why didnt Adobe? The tool to create user centred design solutions should probably be designed (and maintained) with its core user in mind but Adobe kept adding and never taking. I mean, can you really define what Photoshop or Illustrator are anymore?

Almost all the tools used by interaction designers today were invented in the last five years, which speaks to the massive changes in the industry–from websites to mobile and responsive web.

Once Adobe’s flagship programs lost their identity it was for the competition to sweep up. Marvel, Invision, Figma, Axure and Sketch all took their place and evolved from there. Some, like Sketch have even left Adobe to respond with Adobe XD.


So where does that leave us? I’m not saying Adobe has become obsolete, it’s predicted that around 90% of the world’s creatives uses Adobe suite programs such as Photoshop everyday and why would they? It’s one of the most powerful and diverse softwares available.

Maybe the biggest success story is Sketch, which created a thriving business with just a handful of employees by building a screen-design tool from the bottom up.

I’m expressing that tools such as sketch have been designed from scratch for designers by designers. Sketch is blank canvas for designers to bend and twist to suit the needs of industry and inspiring creatives. Adobe suite, on the other hand, has perhaps become a metaphor for a recovering mid-life crisis; willing to change but weighed down by baggage and expectation.

“Good screen design shapes human interaction. It’s often the difference between a product you love and one you simply use — between products that thrive and those that lag behind.”

Sketch offers a screen design workflow that was never possible with Adobe, it is streamlined and connected with the user. Anyone who has ever been lucky enough to use Sketch like me can instantly say that the Symbols feature is a god send for screen design. Furthermore, Sketch is a one off payment of $50 for students unlike a continued subscription for Adobe cloud. Screen design became easier than ever but for most of us there has still always been something missing.


If you have been using Photoshop or Sketch for screen design you are most probably aware of various powerful plugins designed to enhance your workflow. The guys at InVision gave us the Craft plugin which can be described as “a suite of plugins to let you design with real data in mind. Manage them via the new Craft Manager for incredibly easy updating.” Basically it gave designers the chance for quick prototyping, testing and iteration between linking screens in Sketch and making high fidelity prototypes though the InVision browser software.

As every designer knows, the process of digital design is a mess.

An all in one design and prototyping solution? Nearly. If you have used the craft plugin, like me, you may have been bemused by the fragmented nature of the workflow. It felt disjointed and disorganised switching between the invision browser for prototyping and editing screens in the Sketch app. But this, for a long time now, has been one of the only options for the complete wireframe to prototype design solution.

**It is worth crediting Adobe XD’s recent release out of it’s Beta stages and attempt at streamlining this process. I have not used this software yet but if it meets it promises Adobe could be back on top. (for now)**

InVision Studio image by InVision

Enter, InVision Studio with a promise to be the most powerful screen design tool yet. Infact it’s being described as more than just a screen design tool…

Studio takes on the familiarity of traditional design tools like Photoshop and Sketch, but is built specifically with the modern designer’s workflow in mind

— Clark Valberg, CEO and Co-founder of InVision

Sound pretty great right? It feels like someone has finally got it right. A tool that has the potential to be the ‘all in one solution’ for screen design due to be released and its got designers, like you and me, very excited.

Some of the features promised by InVision Studio are:

  1. Screen design
  2. Responsive layout
  3. Rapid prototyping
  4. Advanced animation
  5. Shared design systems
  6. Seamless collaboration


Adobe offers students a reduced subscription per month for its services. Sketch offers a one off half price payment. InVision Studios is promising that its services will always be free? What more could design students be looking forward to?

Unfortunately we have to wait until January 2018 to see if InVision Studio lives up to the hype to save us from a disjointed workflow. Fortunately we can sign up for early access and watch the intro video over and over.

If, like me, this has you excited or you have anything else to add or comment on feel free to get in touch!


Hacking UX Power tools was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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