Learning to love Adobe again…
1. The split up
That sub-title sounds dramatic.
It’s because I have emotional baggage with Adobe. As an ex (Air developer), I am aggrieved with the way they handled their hand-off of Adobe Air to Harman. Years of silence on Air’s future left developers hanging… many jumped ship. It has contributed to the demise of ActionScript 3 - a beautiful programming language in my view.
I also feel aggrieved at the cost of subscription for their products. As a developer that’s £600 from my profit each year vs. £600 every four years (as it used to be). The profiteers got hold and Adobe lost their connection with their customers. So, in a nutshell, I’m anti-Adobe. And have done my best to not use their products since our split-up!
Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. But wait… the post title says leaping to Adobe XD. OK, strong words above, but I am swooed (a mixture of swayed and wooed) by the Adobe XD experience.
Find out why below…
2. Watching profit disappear
My existing workflow included Adobe Illustrator to build wireframes. I have done a lot of illustration in it and it’s a tool that I am very comfortable with.
But having now, as a dev, used it in ernest with clients. I can see it has many drawbacks. And on a recent project, saw the project’s profit sucked away during a period of heavy wire-framing.
The main drain on profit was:
- Sharing and editing assets across the different screens, e.g. home, landing, blog post etc.
- Managing versions
- Sharing the wireframes
- Explaining how navigation would flow
- Gleaning feedback in an organised way
- Re-working the wireframes post-feedback
- Migrating from low-fidelity to high-fidelity mock-ups
When I analysed the profit from the project after launch. I double underlined the need to find a better solution.
But not Adobe thanks… I still felt bitter…
3. The candidates
So I began my voyage in the Wireframe Seas… it was quite pleasant. I looked at several browser-based solutions. Thinking that they would provide easy ways to share outputs and glean feedback. Which they do.
I experimented with the following solutions. This isn’t a review of them by the way.
- Marvel (cloud)
- Canva (cloud)
- Figma (cloud)
- Sticking with Illustrator on an old license
- Adobe XD
Yes, note that Adobe XD was last to review.
I found the cloud based products lacked the responsiveness that the software provided. As someone who has done design work and illustration. I missed the feel of a product that gave an ‘exact’ response to mouse clicks and drags. This was, I expect, a browser issue. The software provided greater control.
I also wanted to have a comprehensive selection of pre-built assets without having to pay. At least, so I could experiment. E.g. navs, heros, carousels, calls to action, cards etc.
4. The winner - Adobe XD - the benefits
Adobe XD came out on top for me. Even with my Adobe emotional baggage, I couldn’t ignore the boost to efficiency that it will give.
The benefits, from my perspective are:
- Drawing tools feel precise
- It’s quick… because it’s installed on my hard-drive
- I can work offline, e.g. on the train
- Large range of free pre-built assets. I can download, preview, shortlist and then drag and drop
- Sharing assets across art boards with ease
- Duplicating and modifying items with ease, for example, a list of cards
- Adding links and previewing so that it behaves like a website
- Sharing the wireframes
- Customer feedback - commenting with ease
- All options free for one project
- The ability to switch to high fidelity if/when needed
The subscription fee, in comparison, is not too bad. It falls outside of the CS options that have such a high monthly subscription price.
5. The future workflow
I can see a new way of working. For my next bespoke web project, I’ll be using Adobe XD. I will offer a morning or day-long session of wire framing (depending on project size). Where I can demo different layouts and then build the wireframes right in front of the customer. We could also offer this via a Google Hangout for customers in other parts of the UK.
The session will have the goal of creating and finalising the wireframes in one go.
I can also see this going hand-in-hand with Webflow for projects that need a quick deployment. But more about that in another post.