Should I use Sketch or Figma?

Focusing on your design skills instead of the tools you use will make you a better, more in-demand designer. Here's why.
Sketch or Figma

There’s been a lot of discussion going on in the world of design about which of the aforementioned tools is best and which one you should use. Many articles have been written and discussions are still being held. As I see it based on the current discussions, there’s not a clear winner just yet.

Now, I hope it does not surprise you when I contribute to the discussion as well. My opinion on the matter might be different, though.

I’ll tell you why.

Table of Contents

The contenders

But first, let us take one final look at the contenders. There’s Sketch, once dubbed the Adobe Photoshop Killer. That’s interesting because Photoshop isn’t a vector graphics editor. Yet it was used for user interface design a lot, which is normally done in vector editing tools because of all the different screen sizes.

Next to that, we have Figma. It is considered to be a contender to Sketch’s position as the most used vector editing tool in UI and UX design. Both of them have been out for quite some time now.

Sketch logo

Sketch is a vector graphics editor for macOS developed by the Dutch company Bohemian Coding. It was first released on 7 September 2010 and won an Apple Design Award in 2012.

I’ll be honest with you here. Even though I can use both tools, Sketch is the tool I prefer. That isn’t because I think one of the two is better than the other. It is just that I started using Sketch first before Figma came out. My opinion on ‘Sketch vs Figma’ is objective, but I want to be transparent about which tool I use. Just to have that out of the way.

And then there’s Figma. Figma is newer than Sketch. Figma launched in 2016, which is 6 years after Sketch’s 2010 release. It is dubbed to be both the new Adobe Photoshop killer (and the Sketch killer as well). Figma is renowned for the power of collaboration it brings. Using Figma, you can work together with your colleagues in real-time. Figma also supports version control. That’s pretty powerful if you ask me.

Figma logo

Figma is a vector graphics editor and prototyping tool. It is primarily web-based, with additional offline features enabled by desktop applications for macOS and Windows.

Other contenders

You might ask yourself — Where’s Photoshop? Where’s Adobe XD? Where’s Invision Studio? I considered them as well, but the online discussion seems to focus on Sketch and Figma more at the moment.

Don’t worry. The points I’m about to make work for all vector-based design tools. Not just Sketch or Figma.

You don’t have to choose between Sketch or Figma…

Most discussions you see on the matter focus on the features of the tool, like collaboration, artboards, or how the interface looks. To give you an example, Sketch has great plugin support. Figma scores big points on collaboration.

However, both applications are moving closer together if you look at features, as is the case with competitors. Sketch now has Sketch Cloud to counter Figma’s collaboration power. Figma now supports plugins just like Sketch does. There’s no contest there. Of course, the application that had the feature first will have a better feature at first. In time the gap will disappear and the features will become more and more similar.

There’s a pattern between these two applications. The list of features of both applications is similar. Both tools are vector-based. They both feature plugin integration, collaborating via cloud services, and more. Heck, they even look very, very similar when you take a look at their interface. This feeling of similarity will only increase over time.

That’s the thing and here comes my main point.

…you should be able to use both.

Since Sketch and Figma are similar applications, it is quite easy to learn both if you already know one of them. The same goes if you are familiar with other design applications.I used to use Macromedia Freehand when I was very young. After that, I had to learn to use Adobe Photoshop. That wasn’t that difficult because I had experience in Freehand. Since I knew Photoshop before, the transition to Sketch and Figma was very easy. It took me just a few hours to get used to both of them. If there will be a new design tool in the future, I am sure it will be easy to learn as well.

You do not have to pick just one tool. If you know one, learning a second tool takes little time.

Clients might require you to use different tools

There’s more to it than just new tools being easy to learn. Clients with existing design teams have a preferred tool. That tool can be Sketch, Figma, or something else. They have a way of working in place.

If you want to sell them something, work with them or join their ranks, you better know how to use the tool of their choice. If you don’t they will just pick any of the other candidates who do know how to work with the tool they use.

You should be able to use both. It is that simple. It will greatly enhance your chances of landing your next project or job.

The skills that matter

In the end, Sketch and Figma are just tools. You use tools to aid your skills as a designer. Being a Sketch Wizard or Figma Guru will not make you that much of a better designer. Improving your designer skills does. Sketch and Figma are just the tools to support you as in doing so.

Sketch and Figma aren’t skills. They are tools to support your skills.

As a designer, it is far more important to focus on your skills. You should be able to facilitate workshops to gather user requirements, to validate concepts and ideas. You should be able to sell your design to your stakeholders. You should be able to create concepts and strategies. Most important of all, you need to be able to solve a business problem with your design. There are more skills, of course, but you get the point.

The tool you use to design does not matter, as long as you know how to use the tools to support you as a designer.

However, if you’d have to choose one

I can imagine that you want to pick a tool as your preferred tool, just like the company I mentioned earlier. Maybe you have to pick one for work or a project. If that is the case here are some things to keep in mind.

Sketch and Figma have some determining factors you have to consider.

  • Availability. Sketch is only available on Mac. If you want to work with Sketch, you will need to have a Mac. That’s a big factor in making your decision. If you do not have a Mac or do not want to work on Mac, you cannot use Sketch.

  • Pricing. Another aspect to keep in mind is pricing. You can use Figma for free as an individual. If you want to make full use of the collaboration power Figma provides, you will need to pay a subscription fee of $15 per user per month (available for free, if you are a student or teacher). To use Sketch, you will have to pay $99 once if you work by yourself, or $9 per user per month.

    If pricing is important to you, Figma is a cheaper choice if you work by yourself. Sketch will be cheaper if you work in teams. Keep that in mind.

Conclusion

In the end, choosing between Sketch and Figma comes in part down to personal preference. However, from a professional standpoint, you really should be able to use both Sketch and Figma. Focus on your design skills instead of the tools you use for it. You will become a better, more in-demand designer if you do so.

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