When planning to design a website there is now a lot of factors to consider, responsive design, SEO optimization, UI, UX, Google Core vitals – the list goes on, and on.
With so much to consider choosing the most effective tools to help you design your site is a key success factor for your web project.
With the evolution of software and programs to be available online as well as local installs, the available options are extensive. It can be difficult to know whether traditional programs like Adobe Photoshop remain best or whether web-hosted tools that combine design and front dev like Zeplin are a better choice.
Often the choice is subjective, based on your web project, requirements, and your or your team’s skillset. However to get a better understanding we’ve spoken to Creative Brand Design, an award-winning web design agency to get their expert opinion on the matter.
“A lot will depend on your requirements, the spec of your project and to an extent the industry you are in…”
They added: “internally we use a combination of Adobe XD, Sketch and InVision for the design of our projects, but when collaborating with clients have also used tools such as Zeplin as needed…”
With their input we go on to review some of the most well know and effective tools to design your website with:
1. Adobe XD
What is Adobe XD?
Adobe Experience Design (XD) is an easy-to-use and yet powerful vector-based responsive design platform.
It’s the ideal solution for website builders working on cross-platform compatibility as they create the best experiences for clients and users.
XD has a lot of similarities with Sketch (listed below) and is intuitive to use for animation, wireframing, and prototyping.
Why XD and not just Photoshop? The answer is speed – work is quicker for designing and prototyping sites, while Photoshop offers more functionality.
- Flexible wireframing
- Integrates with Adobe Creative
- Prototypes and websites are easy to create.
- Photoshop is needed to edit images
- Limited animation function
- UX experience is not the best
2. Adobe Photoshop
What is Adobe Photoshop?
Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard and brings to life graphic design, animation, compositing, photo editing, and digital painting.
This is a raster graphics editor that can be used on Windows and macOS – but there’s a massive set of tools to use for just about every job and need. This makes learning Photoshop a daunting prospect.
However, Adobe Photoshop is a crucial tool for web developers, designers, and graphic artists. For image editing and retouching, creating image compositions, and website mock-ups, it is the class leader.
- Great for layered images
- Pre-measured templates
- Excellent photo manipulation and correction tools.
- Can’t buy Photoshop – you must subscribe
- Some of the premium assets are not cheap
- Can be difficult to learn
What is Figma?
Figma is a collaborative interface design tool that is primarily web-based to test and ship designs quickly. There are some great off-line features, and this is an excellent prototyping tool and vector graphics editor.
Suitable for all sorts of graphic design work from wireframing websites to designing mobile app interfaces, Figma offers something different from other graphics editing tools and lets teams share their libraries and work quickly. Client interaction is easy too.
One benefit is that Figma is intuitive and easy to learn to offer a seamless experience. A great tool for designing websites.
- Cloud-based offering so designers can work anywhere
- Great for collaboration
- Easy to learn
- Issues with adding components
- Lack of tutorials
- No Bitmap editing function
What is Sketch?
The sketch is a popular choice for the collaborative web design software – from visualizing ideas to creating playable prototypes and working with developers.
Designed for digital designers, whether that’s for mobile or web, it’s fast and lightweight with a powerful toolset to meet wireframing and designing needs.
However, this is a Mac app that uses frameworks and technologies that are only on macOS. Developers, designers, and clients can view Sketch creations in their browser and download assets that are production-ready.
- Great for initial visuals
- Accurate renderings
- Works with various third-party plug-ins for functionality
- Mac only
- Not an image editing tool
- Needs plugins for some design tools
What is InVision?
InVision is a design-to-development offering for developers and design teams to create interactive web and mobile sites that are rich and impressive.
Designers can efficiently create interactive mock-ups for designs and wireframes to bring clarity and help boost the collaborative process.
The platform offers vector-based drawing and flexible layers, and users can prototype, review, manage and refine their digital test products without coding.
Collaboration is capable in real-time to help deliver projects – and InVision can sync with Photoshop and Sketch.
- Great for collaborating and prototyping
- Excellent project management facility
- All UX and brand components are kept in a single place.
- UI could be better
- Can be pricey (for large teams)
- Confusing navigation process
What is Zeplin?
Zeplin is a great collaboration tool for front-end developers as it helps boost the design flow and create beautiful layout designs quickly.
It will take designs created in XD, Sketch, Photoshop, and Figma and then export these into a format that generates design specifications and code snippets, including CSS.
This is an organized workspace where entire teams can collaborate on a project and then deliver a website to impress. There’s also Slack integration to make working as a team a cinch.
- Excellent platform for designers and developers to work on
- Easy to set up
- Great for prototyping
- Price – it’s slightly more expensive than rivals
- UI could be improved
- Tutorials could be better
As detailed in our introduction the choice you make will be somewhat subjective based on your industry, skillet set, and project requirements. We have however outlined some of the best and industry-leading tools in the article, we recommend trying some out to see which one might be the best fit for you.
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