Adobe has thrown down the gauntlet to its competitors (looking at you Sketch) and the experience design community will be better for it. In a clear play to stay current and go after the up and coming designers (students), Adobe is now offering its Adobe XD CC starter kit for free. And that's a big deal.
It's a big deal because Adobe XD is a good tool and though still limited in its features, it is extremely promising. It's also a big deal because the price tag makes it affordable for anyone trying to learn experience. It provides access to a key program without having to put down a lot of money. It's also available for Mac and Windows which means there is a choice of platform and price range. But it's especially a big deal because it signifies a huge leap for Adobe, who with this pivot is signaling a large investment into experience design community. No longer is digital experience design a footnote of its flagship products, Photoshop and Illustrator, but an increasingly important part of Adobe's portfolio. It means that a major player is finally giving the focus and supporting the growing experience community by creating a product tailored to our needs.
I'll admit my love for XD has been kindling since late last year but I've shied away from singing its praises on hilltops or recommending it to colleagues. Not for lack of excitement of the product itself but deterement of Adobe's love 'em and leave 'em history that so played with our hearts in the past. Remember Fireworks? Packed its bags and went away. How about Muse? Went to buy milk and never came back. And Flash, I mean Animate? Well this one is still around but when was the last time it sweeped us off our collective feet? The point is, loving Adobe experience focused products have left us standing at the altar one too many times and made personally hesitant to really embrace any new tool. But with its recent announcement and firm commitment to the XD community Adobe, and XD with it, has earned another chance into our hearts.
Adobe XD has an almost non-existent learning curve. Granted this may have something to do with its heavily borrowed ideas from other popular programs, but let's not judge. Anyone using Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch, and really any other design oriented product will pick up Adobe XD with ease.
Much like Sketch, XD offers powerful layout engines that make it quicker to create high fidelity designs. The auto alignment and spacing hints helps in creating beautiful, pixel-perfect screens without having to go pixel by pixel.
The balance between managing reusable objects and doing the actual design is so important in digital experience because of all the nuances and the iterative nature of our design and review process. The integration of the asset panel is elegant. It doesn't feel like an extra step that interrupts the creative flow. The panel makes it simple to quickly add and remove assets as designs evolve so it's easy to stay organized while focusing on the design.
Endless canvas is a feature of most modern design programs and XD does it especially right. The endless canvas in XD is more responsive allowing for quick switch between bird's eye view that helps provide context into larger flw and detailed artboard view much without losing a beat.
When in Sketch sometimes there's a lag, XD has felt very responsive allowing for quicker design iterations by duplicating artboards to try out variations of a design. Where in other programs like Sketch, it lags.
It's hard to beat free. For people just starting out or do who do minimal UI work as part of their job, this is one of the best offers out there.
XD People Icon Library
XD Keyboard shortcut cards