A website or application with great content but a sloppy interface is fighting an uphill battle. It can be harder to change a program’s appearance than it was to build it from scratch. Adobe XD, from the same company that created programs like Photoshop and Acrobat Reader, combats this workflow problem.
An Overview of Adobe XD Features
Adobe XD is an application that you use to help design other applications and websites. The functional design and a huge stock of supporting tools and assets streamlines the process. It works on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices.
Think of the application as an advanced flowchart program. Instead of just having the page mock-up with arrows showing where users will go, XD mimics the user experience. When a designer shows the example to a client, they see the same thing as a potential user. If they have any opinions about the way something looks, they can write a comment on the draft.
How Does Adobe XD Help with Project Management?
Although it can’t do all of the work, the code of the design elements can speed up the project’s creation. Other handy features include automatic resizing for different “screen sizes”, carousel displays, and repeatable patterns. Plugins like Anima further help turn the XD file into usable code. Adding cloud-based sharing makes the app a far better tool for collaboration than a whiteboard in an office.
The close connection with other tools used by app and website design teams is another major plus. Pulling the Photoshop or Illustrator files into XD is quick and easy. Special effects and animated elements can be included in the functional mock-up, identifying issues months before a less dynamic tool.
The program is also relatively lightweight for a design program, which means it’s possible to get work done while on a laptop or mobile device. Having a dedicated GPU might help, but so does being able to bring up the project on a tablet.
Getting Started with Adobe XD
First, you’ll need to setup an Adobe account if you don’t have one, download the Creative Cloud application from Adobe, then install the program itself. Be sure to use an email and password that’s both secure and memorable for your Adobe account. If you start using the program extensively, much of your work will be linked to that account.
Note that the initial setup will require you to have an Internet connection, but it’s possible to use the software offline. You won’t be able to share the files or access all of the features until you’re back online, though.
After that, a number of video tutorials for Adobe XD covering the basic functions are available from Adobe. Going over the information shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. Getting the hang of the program after that may take a bit more time. There are plenty of buttons and resources to go through, but it’s okay to take things slowly.
Don’t sleep on plugins and UI kits for too long, though. Some give your app the same appearance as other companies like Amazon or Tencent. Others can help create animations or display data. They’ll really speed up the time from concept to delivery, especially for beginners.
Pricing for Adobe XD
Adobe XD is available on its own or with other Adobe programs that are part of the Creative Cloud. The pricing may change at any moment, so check out the Adobe site for the current values. There is a seven-day trial available, but the previously free Starter version is no longer an option.
In October of 2022, the subscription for XD alone started at $9.99 a month with a discount to $99.99 if paid in advance. The full Creative Cloud suite starts at $82.49 a month. The yearly subscription could be paid monthly at $54.99 or upfront for $599.98. For bigger teams, each enterprise license went for $22.49 for XD alone and $82.49 for the Creative Cloud.
User Feedback about Adobe XD
On its own, Adobe XD does not particularly stand out to independent developers or small teams. Free options like Figma or Sketch do most of the same work as Adobe XD. Some designers feel that they are better at many of the core design tasks.
Because Adobe XD is part of a package deal, it’s not uncommon for it to see use in companies that are already using programs like Photoshop and Illustrator. Even the free tools tend to charge for tools that larger enterprises need, so the savings are worth the minor complaints. For example, Figma’s top-end enterprise plan costs about as much per license as the entire Adobe Creative Cloud.
Those who end up needing to use the program as part of work do often have specific workflow complaints. Overall, they don’t hate it when pressed, with the lack of choice driving some of the distaste.
Should You Use Adobe XD?
From a wider perspective, there’s no strong reason to seek out or avoid using Adobe XD. Learning its ins and outs can be a benefit for both independent and staff designers.
For independent users and small teams, the price might not be worth it. A seven-day trial may not be enough time to really see if it suits your needs, either. Unless you are absolutely sure you’ll need to collaborate with a company on the Adobe Creative Cloud service, why bother?
On the other hand, the bundle deal makes it seem free to anyone already paying for the full Adobe suite, especially businesses. It’s not a perfect program, but it does get the job done. Most issues are minor and resolvable, and it’s ultimately not that important past the design stage. Having to pay for some of the better plugins does chip into the theoretical savings.
Decision-makers should still at least be willing to discuss the other options if the IT department suggests it. Even if they’re already paying for the Creative Cloud license, saving multiple hours of work on each project might be worth the cost.