Adobe XD, abbreviated from experience design, is an up and coming user interface development and web design program. Sound like something InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop ought to handle?
What makes Adobe XD different is the sheer ease and speed with which the user can go from idea to mock-up to interactive prototype. Unlike those behemoths of Adobe’s Creative Suite, XD has next to no learning curve. This gives web designers the freedom to focus on the look and feel of the website without distraction.
For those who get confused by the difference between UI, UX, UED, etc., XD keeps it simple: this program is used for designing an experience. Our web designers strive to create a smooth and pleasant browsing experience for customers. We want flow and ease of use. Getting user interfacing right requires human testing. Adobe XD allows designers to do just that.
How Adobe XD Works for Web Design
Adobe is calling XD the first all-in-one tool for creating and sharing website and mobile app designs. XD allows the user to draw and reuse elements to build wireframes, visual designs and mock-ups for web design.
The program opens to a welcome screen with a variety of preset artboards, such as phones, tablets, and web designs. XD files can contain multiple artboards so you can optimize across platforms. It also includes example files with helpful instructions to get you rolling.
Design mode and Prototype mode
Inside, there are two modes: Design mode and Prototype mode. Start in Design mode by creating your website. The left sidebar is your toolbox. You’ll find a mere 7 tools. These are the basic tools you would find in Photoshop or InDesign. Before you panic, check out the right sidebar. The right sidebar is the Property Inspector, allowing you to modify the tools for greater versatility. Design mode is the place to import elements, edit your layout, and create graphics.
Prototype mode is where XD moves away from your typical web design program. It’s all about testing and sharing the user interface experience. In Prototype mode, you can simple click an element or button and drag the “wire” to your destination artboard, linking them. You can then choose from a short selection of segues or transitions and the duration. You may want a quick skip to the next screen, or a softer, smoother feel.
How would you know which is the best fit for your website? Testing, of course! XD allows you to record a screen capture of you using your website for clients or colleagues to view, exporting it as a movie file. You can also share a link to your prototype, or open it in the XD app for mobile.
What Web Designers Love About Adobe XD
It’s worth repeating that Adobe XD is minimalistic, but it does have a few fantastic features to awe web designers.
- Repeat Grid. Saving loads of time and tedium, Repeat Grid allows designers to select and duplicate any element or group of items horizontally, vertically or both. You can then change individual aspects of the item, or makes changes across the board. All it takes is a click and a drag.
- Snapping and Padding Tools. Align objects with precision as they snap to center, alongside another object, or in the space between. Smart guides aren’t new to Adobe products, but they continue to be a fan favorite.
- Wireframing, Sharing and the Next Step. Adobe filled the wireframing niche, but sharing and testing prototypes is the main facet of XD. Once your prototype is ready to move on to the next step, Adobe makes it easy to export the assets for actual development in Muse, Dreamweaver, or another program.
Web Designers Want More
Adobe is well aware that in its current state, XD lacks depth. There are exciting features that will continue to be added, and you can even make requests here.
- No Layers Panel. Adobe has, however, heard the cry and is working to add the feature. Currently, XD only offers an outdated set of “Arrange” tools.
- No Interactive Sharing. Recording a preview of the designer using the app is great, but wouldn’t it be better to let clients try it out for themselves?
- Small toolsets. This is also likely to become more advanced as Adobe continues to rollout features.
- No A/B testing feature. The importance of user feedback cannot be downplayed when it comes to designing user experience. It would save time and put smiles on many web designers’ faces to have an A/B testing tool built into the program.
Updates as of September 26, 2016 for Web Design
- Live Previews on Your Mobile Device
- Zoom to Selection
- New Animations
- Customer Feedback Improvements
Web Designers, Keep An Eye on XD
Adobe XD is currently so new that it’s not yet available for Windows 10 (supposedly coming in late 2016). It’s offered through Adobe’s Creative Cloud, so it’s available to subscribers. If you’re not willing to buy it yet, that’s probably a good thing. We suspect it will only get better with time.