Adobe has recently added ‘Experience Design’ to its portfolio, targeting user- experience designers who got drifted away due to lack of prototyping facilities, device central, plugins, unfair pricing and resource hungry software products. However, ‘Experience Design’ (Xd) is something which might grab your attention for its simplicity and quick prototyping capabilities which designers were missing in Photoshop and Illustrator since a very long time and had to rely on third party tools (a long list).
This post covers Xd’s first impression, usability and missing features which might help you in identifying strengths and weak areas and if it is the right time to switch back to Adobe.
Xd has neat start screen that allows you to create new project or open existing one. It also has iOS and Material UI Kits which might come handy while designing prototypes for targeted platform.
What is missing:
Xd has classified android devices under one generic name “Android mobile”, that too with standard resolution of 640 X 360. Similarly, standard option is available under tablet dropdown where iPad is pre-selected. Ofcourse you can specify custom resolution but wouldn’t it be nice to feature atleast few of the top end phones and tablets ?
It is exquisite combination of Sketch and Illustrator. Toolbar options are limited but absolutely precise and easy to handle. Xd has no concept of layers (its on roadmap though) and even if you are coming straight from Photoshop or Illustrator, you would not complain about layers section as long as your design is not complicated. Moreover, you can use same keyboard shortcuts to group, lock and select tools.
What is missing :
- You cannot apply background to artboard. Possible work-around is : create a rectangle equal to size of artboard and use image in it.
- One cannot simply change device type (ex: from iphone 6 to iphone 5s) once they pass start screen.
- No visual indication of grouped elements.
- ‘Active Artboard’ feature is missing. Command+A (windows user: Ctrl + A) selects everything, it even selects objects which belong to other artboards.
- Reusable symbols are missing. This means you will have to update everything manually.
- Blur effect for text, images and shapes. Its a must have, but missing.
- CSS export feature is unavailable.
Xd has handled anchor points pretty well.
- To change a corner or straight anchor point to curve, you just have to double click it. Similarly, to convert curved anchor point to a corner/ straight one, double click it.
- To add a new anchor point, click anywhere on path.
- To delete an anchor point, select it and press delete.
Known issues :
- You cannot have two curved anchor points in a shape which has exactly 2 anchor points. Its a bug.
- You can assign image to a shape but cannot adjust/reposition image within the shape. Duh !
Prototype and Preview Mode:
Under prototype mode, you can link screens just like you do in InVision by creating hotspot.
What is missing:
- Segue or transition effects are limited.
- Artboards are static. This means no scrolling is available, even if you are in preview mode.
- This is iPhone project, but where is iPhone’s bezel in preview mode ?
- No fixed panels/ headers/footers.
Xd is no doubt simple and is one of the fastest prototyping tools I have ever interacted with.
It is exciting, simple, interactive but too late in market as half of the generation has already switched to Sketch and other web browser based prototyping tools with virtually zero footprint on computer.
Is the product worth giving a try or its just another product which Adobe can kill anytime like Device Central ? Will the product survive or is it already dead on arrival ?
Lets wait and watch as Adobe team has promised to come up with monthly updates and if it looks promising I am already in for Xd, provided they finish long list of back-logs on time. Ultimate question is : how many out there are patient enough and ready to switch?