how can sketch win?

Published on

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.

P.S. Before we start with Analysis on How Sketch Can Win by listening to feedbacks, let’s start with their history and also a bit of how Figma entered.

P.S. Before we start with Analysis on How Sketch Can Win by listening to feedbacks, let’s start with their history and also a bit of how 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.

Sketch Lauch on their website
Sketch Lauch on their website

🔥 The Big Moments for Sketch


  1. In 2012, Apple awarded Sketch with their Design Awards, and things started improving for the better.

  2. 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:

https://nira.com/sketch-history/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sketch_(software)

CNET public post when Sketch was awarded by Apple
CNET public post when Sketch was awarded by Apple

🤷 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:

  1. 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]

  2. With wider internet penetration came a new generation of people who wanted easier collaboration tools, which wasn’t easy on Sketch.

  3. 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?

Disclaimer: Our analysis was based on a sampled data which means that we only analyzed a fraction of Sketch feedbacks and reviews on the web which includes user inputs on social platforms like Twitter, blogs and review sites like G2.


That said, Olvy analysis could have done a much better job if Sketch was our user and had used our native integrations with all these platforms, which would have given a larger data to work on.

Disclaimer: Our analysis was based on a sampled data which means that we only analyzed a fraction of Sketch feedbacks and reviews on the web which includes user inputs on social platforms like Twitter, blogs and review sites like G2.


That said, Olvy analysis could have done a much better job if Sketch was our user and had used our native integrations with all these platforms, which would have given a larger data to work on.

“I didn't even need training to get started. It really saves me time and effort. Framer is exactly what our business has been lacking. It's incredible.”

Snapshot of feedbacks
Snapshot of feedbacks

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

  1. Lack of Auto-Layout: People switching from Figma are missing it a lot.


  2. 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.


  3. 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.


  4. 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.


  5. 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.

Sentiment Analysis by Olvy
Sentiment Analysis by Olvy

Anomaly Detected


It’s crucial for us to provide you and all our readers with the most possible accurate data, so we dug deep down into our analysis and found something worth mentioning.


So, we found out that Sketch had 3 kinds of users, one being the ones who had migrated from Adobe (largest category), second being the ones who have only used Sketch and third the ones who have used Sketch and Figma to the fullest.


Now, the largest group here were accustomed to using Adobe, which used to lag and crash. So, when these users experienced similar issues with Sketch, most didn’t write about it in their feedback as they found it common based on their experience with Adobe.


The similar issue was detected with “Auto Layout” and “Smart Animate”. We even took this to our development team and are actively looking into ways on how we can elevate our Feedback Analysis experience for our current users with help of this data.


Disclaimer: Most of this data is backed by in-house research, and there are chances of some disparity.

Anomaly Detected


It’s crucial for us to provide you and all our readers with the most possible accurate data, so we dug deep down into our analysis and found something worth mentioning.


So, we found out that Sketch had 3 kinds of users, one being the ones who had migrated from Adobe (largest category), second being the ones who have only used Sketch and third the ones who have used Sketch and Figma to the fullest.


Now, the largest group here were accustomed to using Adobe, which used to lag and crash. So, when these users experienced similar issues with Sketch, most didn’t write about it in their feedback as they found it common based on their experience with Adobe.


The similar issue was detected with “Auto Layout” and “Smart Animate”. We even took this to our development team and are actively looking into ways on how we can elevate our Feedback Analysis experience for our current users with help of this data.


Disclaimer: Most of this data is backed by in-house research, and there are chances of some disparity.

“I didn't even need training to get started. It really saves me time and effort. Framer is exactly what our business has been lacking. It's incredible.”

🤯 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:

  1. Prioritize the development of the Web App for a better collaborative experience.

  2. 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)

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Thank you for taking the time to read. If you liked it, joining the email list for more case studies or sharing the thread on Twitter is really appreciated.

P.S. Before we start with Analysis on How Sketch Can Win by listening to feedbacks, let’s start with their history and also a bit of how Figma entered.

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©2022 - Maintained by Olvy Inc.

©2022 - Maintained by Olvy Inc.

©2022 - Maintained by Olvy Inc.