how can sketch win?
Wednesday / 28 September / 2022
No matter where Sketch stands right now, it deserves all our love for being the OG Adobe alternative for UI/UX designing.
Another credit that Sketch owns is by providing great software at a one-time price for years, though it’s subscription-based now, the new collaboration features demand that.
The recent acquisition of Figma by the design giant Adobe has brought a ton of limelight back to Sketch for being an independent Figma alternative. While I won’t comment on the acquisition, I personally, think Sketch can harvest the current user sentences by gaining back the popularity it had before Figma entered.
👶🏻 History of Sketch
Pieter Omvlee, the founder of Sketch, had enrolled in a computer science class where he was also introduced to tools like Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator which were used to rule the market with zero competition. The market was much smaller as well, cause not many people were using or interacting with digital tools back then – even iPhone was only a year old.
During this period (2008-12) Adobe also when through one major change – transformations/overhaul of UI with the launch of Creative Suite 4.
Even though it was launched to add features to the apps but had 1 major issue, it was built with keeping pro/regular users in mind, and they ignored the complete minority then which were casual users. Pieter was one of them – one of us.
Pieter decided to build his own tools which would run natively on his OSX system. He soon launched his tool and named it Sketch under his company called Bohemian Coding, where he had already built a couple of other popular tools like FontCase and DrawIt.
Sketch was also priced smartly at $49.99 and Adobe’s Suite was $520.
Sketch had some major advantages over Adobe:
It was built for casual users & people who were starting their journey.
Even though the UI was simple, it was at par with Adobe’s competitors.
It was also one of the most affordable professional solutions.
🔥 The Big Moments for Sketch
In 2012, Apple awarded Sketch with their Design Awards, and things started improving for the better.
On May 6, 2013, Adobe announced that it was discontinuing the development of and support for Fireworks, its bitmap and vector graphics editor. Adobe wanted to kill product cannibalism, but they went wrong. The result was the most loyal Fireworks users migrated to Sketch as it could do exactly that but in far lesser time with more features.
By 2015 Sketch had evolved to become an affordable alternative to Adobe’s Illustrator by providing a fully functional tool with an attractive price point.
That’s how Sketch became what we know now.
Source for this section:
🤷 What Went Wrong?
Wondered if everything was sailing so well, then how did there suddenly come a need for a tool like Figma and how it outgrew Sketch’s market share.
We’ll can’t comment on all the micro and macro factors, but here’s our take on it:
Sketch ignored the industry changes that the internet brought. Internet users went from 569 million to 5.47 billion in the past decade and became the heart of most tools. [source: IWS]
With wider internet penetration came a new generation of people who wanted easier collaboration tools, which wasn’t easy on Sketch.
Windows had been the dominant player with ~80% market share, which was entirely ignored by Sketch by having a Mac-only app. [source: StatCounter]
Summary: People and organizations required a cross-platform design app with collaborative features to streamline the process.
Entry of Figma – The entry of Figma was a big issue for Sketch as it practically had all the features of Sketch plus everything more their target audience required. Figma ran on the user’s browser, which means it provided the same experience irrespective of the hardware, and its cloud-first approach made it super easy to collaborate.
🔍 What Does Olvy’s Analysis Say?
Let’s start and check the Olvy magic 🪄
#1 Feedback: Windows App
The no. 1 requested feature which we found was a need for a Windows version of Sketch.
There were two categories of people who wanted to use Sketch on Windows. The first one being actual designers who were willing to give it a try, and the other was people who wanted to collaborate with the design team using Sketch.
We did check Sketch’s current offering and found out that they are very close to nailing the collaboration issue with the collab feature they added via the web app. It’s indeed a nice move.
Next, we’ll have to wait and see how Sketch targets the other segment of users.
#2 Feedback: Collaboration
Similar to the above feedback, many requested collaboration. These again were mostly teams and individuals with Windows.
Though Sketch has a collaboration tool, it’s far behind what Figma offers. As people have already tasted a better collaboration experience with Figma, they won’t settle for the limited offering of Sketch.
#3 Feedback: Community
Great product are built with communities, and there’s no better example than what Figma achieved. On Figma, it’s super easy to share your design with their community, which is something many people are asking from Sketch.
The community is what helped Figma bring a ton of non-designers, as these people can easily pick something from their open community and use with little modification.
#4 Feedback: Software Issues
Ok, this is serious!
Most of the reviews I saw had this mentioned the fact that Sketch lags and crashes when working with large art boards.
One user even reported that Sketch runs slow on Apple’s newer M1, which is a bummer considering Figma runs super smooth even on entry-level laptops.
Few Other Issues
Lack of Auto-Layout: People switching from Figma are missing it a lot.
Requires iPhone: If you want to play with prototypes on your mobile, then iPhone is the only option as they don’t support Android, another place where Figma shines.
Frustrating Shortcuts: One thing Figma did nicely was reducing the learning curve for people coming from Adobe by keeping the shortcuts the same. Well, it’s the opposite here and many users who use Sketch + Adobe find it frustrating as both have different shortcuts.
Lack of Smart Animation: It’s 2022 and every other website has animations and Smart Animate is something very essential to hand off the final design.
Design System Manager: Figma had added a simple yet powerful Design System Manager into their app, which was more seamless than what Sketch has. The most important being the ability to build components independent of color.
🤯 What can Sketch do?
Sketch has a very rare opportunity which it can use to grab millions of user from Figma and the best thing is that they don’t have to start from zero.
They already have a great app with ton of popularity, so it’s pretty easy for them.
Here’s what we think Sketch should do:
Prioritize the development of the Web App for a better collaborative experience.
Switch to freemium model, but the management need to ensure this is aligned with their product goals. (Note: Not many people demanded for it but this might be due to 100% of their user being Apple users)
Start working on collaborative community by incentivizing users, just like what Framer is doing in 2022 – featuring users on the website and letting them charge.
Sketch apparently has very smaller digital presence compared to Figma, they should start working with creators on multiple platforms to make content together so everyone could understand their cool tool.
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