A comparison among Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, and Visily: A deeper look at the 4 most popular UI design tools

With so many UI design tools to choose from, it’s a good idea to consider your individual needs as a user before committing to any specific software. The reality with UI design tools is that different programs often have design functions that may not be available in another tool, and it’s a good idea to remain open-minded and stay up to date on the latest updates on the market. 

Consider the support systems offered with any program, including any customer support time you can access. Knowing your project requirements in advance lets you forecast your needs and ensure your UI design tool can support the results your UX strategy aims to achieve. Design is constantly evolving, and considering how frequently your chosen software has upgrade versions, offers new integrations, and caters to collaboration needs will contribute to saving you time in the long run. 

We have looked at four popular UI design tools and will outline some things to consider.

Choosing a suitable UI design tool: Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, Visily

Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD have become the most popular editors for UX and UI design, with Visily being the newest option available. Sketch has been the application of choice for many UX and UI designers for a while. The reality is that design programs are changing with the evolution of design style and functionality, so it’s important to consider if updates in UI design, such as AI features, rapid prototyping, or real-time collaboration, are up to date with each tool. 

All four software programs featured in this article are excellent, but each has strengths. If collaboration is critical to your design process, Figma and Visily rank highest. If customization of third-party plugins is on your requirements list, you may prefer Sketch. For those already working within Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite of tools, Adobe XD will reduce onboarding time, and integrations will be more straightforward. 

Community is a big feature of getting the most out of any UI design tool. Learning how others design and get the best out of the software is done through shared learning, design challenges, and input from expert designers. Figma has always focused on its community with templates, guidelines, plug-ins, and other resources, all well-documented for new members. Sketch has a community hub focused on bringing together global designers to share knowledge. Visily offers a community forum with close access to design experts. Get feedback on your designs and support others in improving their projects. 

As with any software, price is a consideration, so you should always look at what features are included under the package levels to see where the best value lies for your team. Visily is the only tool of these four that is free with no feature restrictions. Figma ranges in price from a free version with a limit of 3 projects up to $45 for organizations monthly. Sketch packages are listed at $9 per editor monthly for standard and business packages at $20 per editor monthly. Individually, Adobe XD is offered at $9.99 monthly with an option to upgrade to the entire Adobe Creative Suite. The various pricing levels give you confidence in planning your budget to meet your UI design needs. Suppose the customer support option is included at a higher package level, for example. In that case, this may save your team money in the long run with access to tutorials, community features, and customer service support.  

For a flexible tool that offers wireframes and mockup designs fast and easy, Visily is a clear winner— you start with a list of themes to develop the look and feel of your design. The simplicity of use continues with the drag & drop function when designing, and a rich prebuilt library of icons, templates, and font options makes the process really smooth. The cool AI function screenshot-to-design generates a mockup when you upload a screenshot that can then be tailored to your needs. Additionally, the AI feature, smart design assistant, will enable prompt design changes to improve your layout, color grading, and more and allow you to spend more time working on inspiration and design rather than the grunt work of building your design. Figma does have AI functionality in its art generation tool, but this does not have the same productivity value during design to anyone outside the designer. 

While Sketch has been around the longest as a tool and Adobe XD is best known from a designer’s point of view because it falls under the Adobe Creative Suite, Figma and Visily are strongly emerging competitors for the new wave of UI design tools. Incorporating AI early signals a plan to move with the future of design. Let’s look in more detail at each tool and its pros and cons related to the designer and other project owners’ needs.

The pros and cons of Sketch

Sketch describes its software as ‘the all-in-one designer’s toolkit.’ You can use it for UI, mobile, web, and even icon design. You can design low-fidelity wireframes within the basic Sketch platform. 

  • With a clean user interface and an advanced vector editor, it has gained widespread popularity among UI designers. 
  • It works particularly well across different end devices allowing for easy organization of designs with artboards which can then be tailored to different screen sizes. 
  • Sketch is set up with the designer’s workflow in mind, with collaboration and developer handoff built into the system. 
  • One drawback of Sketch is its platform dependency. The program is only available for Mac, but it can be installed on Windows computers using an installation hack, but this will significantly reduce your customer’s operating efficiency. 

The pros and cons of Figma

Figma is a web-based graphics editing and user interface design app. Users can create all kinds of graphic design work, from wireframing websites, designing mobile app interfaces, prototyping designs, crafting social media posts, and more. 

  • Figma is best known for its collaboration focus through its web UI design tool, allowing multiple users to input feedback into UI designs in a simple format. The design tool is available offline, and this version incorporates advanced design flexibility. 
  • Figma also offers a mobile app for Android and iOS, which extends the reach of the program’s real-time collaboration ability across multiple devices. 
  • The mobile app means Figma operates the platform independently, which is a major advantage for product managers gathering feedback across teams.
  • Figma’s biggest limitation is a reliance on an active internet connection. This is resolved for designers through the offline version, but internet coverage must be maintained for active collaboration. 

The pros and cons of Adobe XD

Adobe XD is a vector-based UI and UX design tool that can be used to design anything from advanced mobile apps to launch-ready websites. Part of Adobe Systems, it can be used either in the cloud or files can be stored locally. The cloud-based system allows team members to edit simultaneously, making collaboration a straightforward process.

  • With XD, you can quickly go from wireframes and mockups to static UI designs to interactive prototypes showcasing the user experience. 
  • The integration with Adobe Systems extends the licensing use of Adobe Fonts, which have already been subscribed to, adding a cost-effective benefit to users. 
  • Adobe XD is ideal for simple, flexible wireframing for UI design. It is easy to use if you are familiar with Adobe products. 
  • The biggest drawback is the interface is a little complicated to learn, and prototyping typically requires advanced UI design skills. 

The pros and cons of Visily

Visily is the easiest and most powerful wireframe design software that enables teams to brainstorm and create beautiful app wireframes regardless of size and skills. The software is designed to be as intuitive as possible, making it accessible to everyone. 

  • Non-designers do not need any technical or design skills to build a wireframe or mockup design. It is actually as fast to build a mockup with Visily as a wireframe, with help from features like the AI smart design assistant tool which handles the grunt work of design. 
  • Visily has a rapid prototyping tool that converts static designs into interactive mockups in seconds. This saves designers time and allows product managers to show a working prototype to stakeholders.
  • When you get to the stage of handing over to your developer, Visily offers CSS inspection (with HTML markup generation coming soon), which is another assistance that saves time and increases accuracy. 
  • Visily offers customizable templates for every situation. Quickly design entire page layouts with just a few clicks with ease. Pre-built UI elements mean no element of design has to be built from scratch and you can get started without delays. 
  • There is a rich library of UI smart components. From simple buttons to complex charts, you can easily drag and drop these features into your wireframe and visualize your product. 
  • Visily is still a newer tool, so the community is smaller. There is still plenty of advice to discover, and members are active, so it is growing daily. 

What UI design tool best supports you best?

As stated earlier, all four UI design tools have different features and strengths. Many UI designers will use multiple tools to support all the functionality they need as projects change. Taking from all of these, your level of confidence in design, the speed of delivery of prototypes, the need for collaboration, and flexibility within user experience are all factors in deciding what suits your long-term goals. For pricing, functionality, advanced features, ease of use, and speed, Visily delivers and is a clear winner to most users. Figma, Sketch, and Adobe XD have a strong user following and community, but they limit the actual UI design work to only a designer. Visily is redefining this process and adding an option for any team member to have practical input and the ability to wireframe or create a mockup of their own prototype. 

Taking the time to do your research is key, and not presuming because a product has been on the market for the longest, that is the best. Your project needs will decide on the best tool for you to grow into the future. 

Sign up today to work with Visily for free and start designing your latest product. 

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