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(Last updated on January 23rd, 2021)

Sketch or Adobe XD? Read this in-depth Sketch vs. Adobe XD comparison if you want to make a wise decision.

Adobe XD is one of Adobe’s latest vector-graphics tools that focuses more on designing websites. Titled Project Comet initially, the application was first known as Adobe Experience Design CC in 2016 before later becoming Adobe XD in 2016 before going out of beta in 2017.

Like other Adobe products, it is built to work in conjunction with other applications (Illustrator, Photoshop) and Adobe’s cloud library.

Sketch has been around for much longer as an industry-standard in web design since 2010. Developed by the Dutch company Sketch B.V., the Sketch application has been one of the most revered graphic editors for web design, winning the Apple Design Award in 2012.

For quite some time, it did not have any competition until Figma debuted in 2016. And now, with Adobe entering this arena, it’s not alone in this market.

Comparison At a Glance

1. Interface
Winner Sketch. The abundance of toolbars makes Sketch palatable for users to jump right in and get designing.

2. Features
Winner: Adobe XD. XD has far more control with assets thanks to a feature-filled environment.

3. Sharing
Winner: Adobe XD. Adobe XD is built to easily connect other members of your team into a project file with little fuss.

4. Tools
Winner: Sketch. Sketch outweighs XD when it comes to what it’s capable of for generating a complete web design.

5. Workflow
Winner: Adobe XD. With great versatility, XD simplifies the work pipeline to keep everything together in the process.

6. Operating Systems
Winner: Adobe XD. Only Adobe XD spans both Windows and Mac versions while Sketch is Mac only.

7. Pricing
Winner: Sketch. Whereas Adobe products usually require a subscription, Sketch has a one-time payment.

8. Plugins
Winner: Sketch. Given that Sketch is older, it benefits from plenty of plugins to better aid in the process.

Short Verdict

The main difference between Sketch and Adobe XD is that Sketch is only made for Mac users whereas Adobe XD can be used by both Windows as well as Mac users.

While Sketch is a decent alternative, Adobe XD is far more versatile both in terms of its features and format.

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1. Interface

Sketch has adopted an interface that is suitable for Mac computers and is relatively easy to navigate for those familiar with the file explorer functions of the operating system.

Pages and layers are positioned on the left while the feature tools are on the right with the canvas centered. A host of simple tools are placed topside in the main window. Numerous mini-windows can be opened for additional tool functions.

Sketch interface

Adobe XD has an environment that is a bit more simplified to give a broader range of a canvas area. Consider how the left sidebar places the tools in a thin icon bar, allowing for more space on the right to use the features better.

Not only is it a cleaner work environment, but the top bar also makes it easy to shift between the phases of production with options for Design, Prototype, and Share, making it easy to push content through the production pipeline.

Both interfaces are quite similar to Photoshop that’s about even. But what ultimately breaks the tie is that Sketch seems to have a lot less hidden with the top toolbar using far more of its real estate than XD.

Winner: Sketch

2. Features

Sketch has many nifty features to make it more palpable for web design than other vector-based graphic applications. Symbols can be used to reuse certain graphical items anywhere on the page and throughout your design boards, complete with a comprehensive library.

Smart Layout can automatically tailor your desktop designs for mobile with little change to the proportions and padding.

But Adobe XD has a stricter edge in this department. Such application-specific features include repeat grids, handing off to online inspectors, and, perhaps the essential component, responsive design tools. XD also has the Symbols organization function but has swapped it for an Assets panel that also houses fonts and colors.

Admittedly, Sketch can do some of this with plugins’ aid, but, surprisingly, these convenient features wouldn’t have been integrated without the need for plugins.

Even the elements Sketch can match, such as the Symbols library, are not as intuitive, and they could use a bit more improvement. Though nipping right at Adobe’s heels for their features, Adobe comes out ahead with a modicum more to offer.

Winner: Adobe XD

3. Sharing

Rendering out your website designs could be a hassle in any other program, but XD and Sketch goes the extra mile to ensure the collaboration isn’t a major chore.

Adobe XD collaboration tools are built right into the programs so that prototypes are easily sharable from right inside the application. The functionality allows for the project to be easily viewable by those who can access it and leave comments that can be seen in XD.

This can make the feedback process relatively easy in that you won’t find yourself bouncing between programs to keep everything together as your near closer to the final draft.

Sketch requires some outside help with sharing for the collaboration process. You’ll have to rely on such programs as Zeplin to integrate with the Sketch file.

The good news is that if you have a preferred CMS for keeping everything together in the project process, you have a wide variety of third-party integration options.

The bad news is that, well, you’ll have to choose one to connect via plugins. And if you’re not already invested in a CMS for sharing information and feedback, you may find this a bit irritating in deciding which software works for your project.

Adobe XD takes a lot of the grunt work out of the project management part of making a website with their helpful sharing options for keeping revisions and comments together.

Winner: Adobe XD

4. Tools

Adobe XD has several useful tools to ease the design process. If you’re building a shopping website and need a grid layout fast, using the Repeat Grid tool can make it easy enough to push and pull a grid into position, complete with repeating content the further you expand to see in real-time how your website will look with a more extended grid.

By far, their best feature, however, is the smart, responsive tools. Rather than just letting your website look weird on mobile, XD features an auto-mode that can automatically guess how to retool your website’s assets for mobile. And all it takes to turn it on is a simple slider button.

On the prototyping side, there’s an auto-animate function that can make clean and flowing presentations, in addition to syncing with voice functions available in Alexa and Google Home. There’s also the sharing tools, which can make collaboration run smoothly with getting input from your team members.

Sketch can keep up with similar functions, but the problem comes back to these tools not already being present on the platform. You’ll have to download some plugins to replicate these functions properly, and some have fewer tool features than others. With all of this considered, XD has the superior toolset for most of them coming with the initial application.

Adobe XD tools

Winner: Sketch

5. Workflow

One of the most convenient aspects of Adobe XD is that the top of the page has been reserved for keeping the workflow process easy to follow and organize.

Sketch can be customized for finding the right workflow that works for you. With the help of some plugins, you can keep your project clean with Tidy, organized with Naming Conventions, amplified for Salesforce with the Lightning Design System Linter, and trackable with Artboard Status and Navigator.

Adobe XD, however, is far more focused on simplifying the workflow process to three simple stages. The top bar showcases tabs for each part of the process: Design, Prototype, and Share.

Design is where all the assembly of the website will be done. Prototype is where the project will be customized to be presentable for other clients and developers.

Adobe XD prototype

Share pushes that design out to those you want, viewing the project to provide feedback. Keeping these three tabs at the top of the application keeps everything in line so you can better organize the process of pushing out your website design.

You could look at the two applications as a difference in how much customization you’d want on the workflow process itself. Sketch has plenty of plugins to rework the workflow to suit any need you may have.

But if you’re not into that level of micromanagement in the workflow process, it’s best to stick with Adobe XD for its robust and clean workflow process that is easy enough to follow for any level of designer.

Winner: Adobe XD

6. Operating Systems

Adobe XD adheres to the same rules as Adobe products that span across Windows and Mac devices. Both interfaces are quite similar, and they’re designed to work well enough with other Adobe products when you find yourself pulling your files and assets in and out of such programs as Illustrator and Photoshop.

Sketch, on the other hand, only works with Mac operating systems and doesn’t have a Windows version available. Moreover, Sketch files can’t be read in most vector graphics programs. This can be exceptionally frustrating for those who are doing work with teams that are using different computers.

Considering both programs are designed with teams in mind, it’s a massive sore thumb that Sketch is only specific to Mac environments. This can be exceptionally difficult if a web designer on a Mac hands off a Sketch file to a web developer on a PC.

Thankfully, XD has been built to read Sketch files, but it just begs the question of why not just use XD from the start. It’s just a whole lot easier when your design application can be easily accessed and seen on numerous devices. Adobe XD has this convenience while Sketch has yet to make this improvement for having been around a decade.

Winner: Adobe XD

7. Pricing

ProductRegular PriceDiscounted Price
Adobe Creative Cloud$52.99/monthCheck here
Adobe XD$9.99/monthCheck here
Sketch$99 (one-time)No Discount

Adobe XD, though existing under the Adobe Creative Cloud, actually has a few pricing options. If you’re seeking to just play around with the program for personal use, XD is free for non-commercial projects.

If you’re planning to move ahead with professional website projects, you can purchase the $9.99/monthly subscription model. Of course, it also comes bundled under the complete Creative Cloud package for $52.99/monthly.

Sketch has a pricing model based more on what business will be using it. For individual developers, Sketch can be purchased for a one-time price of $99 with one year of updates.

For a company seeking to use Sketch on many machines in their workspace, you can pay $9/monthly per contributor. The team subscription model comes with a shared cloud workspace and tools for managing all contributors.

Sketch is far more economical in accommodating relatively cheap for either the lone artist or an entire web department. Well, as long as that web department is all using Mac computers.

Winner: Sketch

8. Plugins

Despite being very new to the market, Adobe XD already has over 200 plugins to choose from. Airtable can better input placeholder content without the usual Lorem Ipsum defaults. UI Faces can be useful in whipping up avatars right in the application.

There’s plenty of integration plugins to easily share and coordinate the design, such as the plugin that communicates with the CMS of Trello. Other integrations include Dropbox, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and much more.

Sketch offers much of the same to integrate with similar programs such as Stark and Overflow. But there are more advanced plugins available for all sorts of useful tricks such as dark mode, transferring layers to other programs like After Effects, easy table creation, an artboard manager, and even an automation plugin that speed up the design process.

It’s a close call in this department, but Sketch has a bit of a lead with all the extra features available via plugins. However, it should be noted that with XD having so many plugins already, it could very well surpass Sketch in the following years.

It should also be noted that Sketch requires a lot of these plugins even to match the features of Adobe XD.

Winner: Sketch

Final Thoughts

What ultimately hinders Sketch from being a real threat to Adobe XD is that it doesn’t work for Windows operating systems. Despite Sketch’s many features and advantages, that lack of being used across multiple platforms will automatically turn off a lot of users.

Considering how many similar features the two applications share, it might have been close had Sketch been usable on Windows devices and with a more robust toolset out of the box. But without this capability, XD is the only choice for a web design software that’s versatile and effective for designing websites.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I use Sketch on Windows computers?

Unfortunately, Sketch only works with Mac computers.

What content management systems can Adobe XD integrate with?

XD can be used in conjunction with Trello, Dropbox, Microsoft Teams, and Slack, along with other CMS environments and the aid of plugins.

Which application is more economical for a team environment?

Sketch is a better choice in pricing for teams as you can gauge the price by how many people in your network will be using the program.

Which application is best for responsive design?

Adobe XD is the best choice for responsive design as it can make educated guesses on how to reposition your content for mobile.

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