It’s one of the most frequent questions I get asked: Figma vs Adobe XD vs Sketch, which is better in 2023?
The statistics behind these three UX/UI design platforms prove that this industry is only getting bigger.
Figma has a whopping 4M+ users with more joining every day. Adobe XD is backed by juggernaut Adobe with a market cap of $312.90B Sketch raised over $20M+ in venture capital to expand its product offering globally Sure, the numbers are impressive. However, they still don’t answer the big question: which UX/UI design tool is the best to use?
When it comes to UX and UI design, it’s tricky to know which tool is best without trying them all. Some people (including myself) would argue that Figma is the best design tool on the market. Others say it’s a close battle of Figma vs. Sketch or Figma vs. Adobe XD.
It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Figma, and I’m not alone! After teaching over 500k enthusiasts on my YouTube channel, I decided to launch the Figma & UI Design Masterclass Course where you can learn how to become a Figma Pro in one of the world’s leading UI design tools. That being said, in this article I want to help you decide which one is best suited for your workflow. Each tool has different features and capabilities — it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation.
If you’re unsure which tool is best for you, this guide is designed to help you understand the capabilities of Figma vs Adobe XD vs Sketch, and understand why and how these tools have quickly become a favourite.
The UX/UI design industry has been growing steadily and continues to do so in 2023. With so many impressive design platforms to choose from, it’s no wonder that aspiring designers ask, “Figma vs Adobe XD vs Sketch, which is better in 2023?”
Figma boasts over four million users, with more joining every day. Adobe XD, on the other hand, is backed by Adobe, a giant in the tech industry with a market cap of over $312.90 billion. Meanwhile, Sketch raised over $20 million in venture capital to expand their product offerings globally. These impressive numbers may give a glimpse into the popularity of these platforms, but they don’t answer the critical question: which one is the best to use for UX/UI design?
Choosing the right tool for any design project can be quite challenging. Some people would swear that Figma is the best design tool on the market, while others believe that Sketch or Adobe XD is better. Each platform has unique features and capabilities, and what may be best suited for your workflow may not work for someone else.
As a Figma enthusiast with over 500k subscribers on YouTube, I’m convinced that it’s an excellent design tool. I launched the Figma & UI Design Masterclass Course to help others become Figma pros and maximise the platform’s potential. However, I’m aware that there are people who may prefer Adobe XD or Sketch over Figma.
That said, I created this guide to help you understand the capabilities of each platform and why they’ve become favourites among designers. By comparing Figma vs Adobe XD vs Sketch, you’ll have a better idea of which tool is best suited for your project needs.
Figma’s popularity lies in its easy-to-use cloud-based app that is quick and intuitive, making it the go-to choice for designers and UX/UI professionals. Its online whiteboard FIGJAM has been praised for providing a creative space for virtual brainstorming, team collaboration, and customer journey mapping. With Autolayout, easy-to-use constraints, and Smart Animate, users can create dynamic designs and advanced animations effortlessly.
On the other hand, Adobe XD has quickly gained popularity among Adobe-native designers and developers. It integrates useful communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams, supports files from Illustrator, Photoshop, and AfterEffects, and has an Asset Library. A popular tool for UI prototyping, XD can get laggy on larger live-collaboration projects.
Sketch is a macOS-native design tool perfect for UI/UX designers, with streamlined design tools to suit different devices and screen sizes. However, it reportedly crashes on larger projects, and as a macOS-only program, it alienates a lot of the community.
Figma is available on all full operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Linux, and Chrome OS.
Adobe XD is suitable for macOS and Windows users, with a mobile app for previewing designs on iOS and Android devices.
Sketch is currently macOS-only, with no plans for Windows or Linux.
Figma boasts innovative and user-friendly live collaboration capabilities that allow multiple team members to view and edit designs in real-time. It is one of the most powerful design collaboration tools on the market and offers features such as project tracking, real-time editing and observation mode. However, some UX/UI designers find the live collaboration feature intrusive.
Adobe XD’s co-editing feature allows for real-time collaboration in the cloud, making it a great option for users comfortable with Adobe software or those collaborating with other Adobe users. However, some users have reported sync issues and lag on larger projects.
Sketch’s real-time collaboration is limited to its iOS app and is only available as part of a subscription. The subscription model has caused headaches for some UX/UI designers and external stakeholders who need to monitor and provide guidance on a project. Follow mode allows users to watch another designer’s work without interfering with the live editing process.
Figma has worked hard on upgrading its component system to streamline every UX/UI designer’s design system workflow. The ability to build highly scalable design systems that can be utilised across multiple projects is a Godsend. Over the years they have also continued to optimize their performance and the updates only get better and better.
Most recently in August 2021, they made a major update to their components workflow, introducing Variants and Interactive Components. Variants allow you to group related components together and switch between them easily, while Interactive Components let you add realistic interactions and animations to your prototypes without writing any code.
Figma allows you to create your own design system, or you can also download my Designership Design System; designed for UX/UI designers like yourself who want to spend less time struggling and more time creating.
With Adobe XD, you can create a design system from the ground up in under 6 steps. The advantage of building your own design system is that it helps to ensure consistency across UX and UI designs for different team members. To make the process easier, make sure to use a few plugins.
Adobe XD also has some new features that make it more competitive with Figma and Sketch. In October 2021, they released 3D Transforms, which allow you to create realistic 3D effects and perspectives for your designs. They also added support for Auto-Animate in web prototypes, which means you can preview your animations in any browser.
Sketch has the same flow as Figma and Adobe in terms of design system capabilities, although many note that the need to sign up for 3rd-party services (such as Invision and Zeplin) to complete your product design workflow can be a hassle.
Sketch has also been improving its features and performance over time. In September 2021, they released Sketch 78, which introduced Smart Layout Controls, which allow you to customize how your components resize and adapt to different content. They also improved their collaboration tools, such as Cloud Inspector and Cloud Documents.
Animations & Transitions
For those looking to create advanced custom animations, Figma’s Smart Animate seeks out matching layers, recognises any differences, and works to animate layers between frames in a prototype.
Figma — Smart Animate Figma Smart Animate was introduced in October 2019 as part of Figma’s prototyping features. It allows you to create realistic interactions and transitions by automatically animating changes between frames. You can also combine Smart Animate with other prototyping features, such as drag, scroll, and overlay, to create complex and dynamic prototypes.
One of the advantages of Figma Smart Animate is that it works seamlessly with Figma’s cloud-based platform, which means you can collaborate with your team in real-time and share your prototypes easily. You can also use Figma’s component system and variants to create reusable and scalable animations.
However, Figma Smart Animate also has some limitations. For example, it only works with matching layers, which means you have to name your layers consistently and avoid using groups or masks. It also doesn’t support 3D transforms or nested animations, which can limit your creative possibilities.
The recent release of auto-animate makes prototyping rich interactions even easier by automatically animating micro-interactions across artboards in Adobe XD.
Adobe XD — Smart Animate Adobe XD Auto-animate was released in October 2018 as part of Adobe XD’s prototyping features. It allows you to create smooth animations by automatically animating the differences between two artboards. You can also adjust the easing and duration of the animations to fine-tune the results.
One of the benefits of Adobe XD Auto-animate is that it integrates well with other Adobe products, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects. You can import your assets from these tools and animate them in XD. You can also use XD’s plugins and coediting features to enhance your workflow and collaboration.
However, Adobe XD Auto-animate also has some drawbacks. For instance, it can get slow and laggy when working with large or complex projects. It also doesn’t support vector networks or interactive components, which can make it harder to create consistent and flexible animations.
For Sketch users, Timeline has become the go-to plugin for animations and interactions. A pretty simple paid tool, Timeline helps to improve the capabilities of Sketch by allowing you to animate for websites, mobile apps, ads, and more.
Sketch Interactions Sketch Timeline was launched in November 2017 as a plugin for Sketch. It allows you to create keyframe-based animations within Sketch layers. You can also export your animations as GIFs, videos, or code.
One of the perks of Sketch Timeline is that it offers more control and precision over your animations than Figma or XD. You can edit the timing, easing, and properties of each keyframe individually. You can also use Sketch’s extensive library of plugins and integrations to extend your functionality and options.
However, Sketch Timeline also has some challenges. For example, it requires a separate installation and subscription from Sketch, which can add to your costs and hassle. It also doesn’t support real-time collaboration or cloud storage, which can affect your team’s efficiency and communication.
Plugins & Extensions
Launched in 2019, Figma now offers a full library of plugins and files built by the Figma community. Users can browse through thousands of custom-made plugins and files, and even build or remix plugins.
In August 2021, Figma went one step further by inviting all developers and builders to create the first plugins and widgets for FIGJAM.
We see how the official community works with Figma resources and develops through them. There is a lack of moderation in the community, so make sure the resources or plugins you’re considering are tested and suitable.
You can check out this guide to the best Figma plugins for 2021, but my personal top 3 boring but most useful plugins include:
Autoflow: This plugin helps you create user flows and diagrams by automatically connecting frames with arrows.
A11y — Color Contrast Checker: This plugin helps you check the color contrast of your design elements and ensure they meet accessibility standards.
Sorter: This plugin helps you sort your layers by name, position, size, or color.
You can find more plugins and files on Figma Community or by using the search feature in Figma.
Adobe XD offers a range of free and paid plugins and app integrations from both Adobe and third-party developers. Known as UI kits, XD enables deep integrations with external tools and services, boasting external integrations to assist with other UX/UI designers and stakeholders.
Some of the more popular Adobe XD plugins include:
Stark: This plugin helps you design accessible products by checking color contrast, generating color palettes, simulating color blindness, and more.
Trello: This plugin helps you sync your designs with Trello boards and cards for better collaboration and feedback.
Yotako: This plugin helps you convert your designs into code for various platforms and languages.
You can find more plugins and integrations on Adobe XD Plugin Manager or by using the search feature in XD.
Thanks to Sketch’s strong community of developers, they offer hundreds of powerful paid third-party extensions and plugins, designed to improve your workflow. You can browse assistants, plugins, integrations, or like Fignam create your own.
Some people struggle with browsing plugins as Sketch doesn’t offer the same one-stop shop that the Figma community is offered. There are also reports that updating extensions, plugins, and systems can be time-consuming and can lead to multiple bugs or missing fonts.
Some of the more popular Sketch plugins include:
Sketch Runner: This plugin helps you speed up your workflow by allowing you to run commands, insert symbols, apply styles, and more with keyboard shortcuts.
Rename It: This plugin helps you rename layers or artboards in bulk using patterns or variables.
Sketch Material: This plugin helps you create material design components using predefined styles and templates.
You can find more plugins and extensions on Sketch Plugin Directory or by using the search feature in Sketch.
Over the years, Figma has fostered a pretty dedicated community of UX/UI designers who in turn have created a creative ecosystem of projects and inspiration. The Community Resource section is filled with dedicated developers and other fellow UX/UI designers allowing people to bounce ideas, seek support, share creations, and seek out tech support from resource developers themselves. A dedicated platform for the community is being regularly updated and reworked, with more improvements on the way.
Interestingly, members of the Figma community have also branched beyond UX/UI design, sharing things such as:
Art & Illustrations
And so much more…
Figma also hosts various events and initiatives to engage and empower its community. For example, in August 2021, Figma launched FIGJAM, an online whiteboard tool for brainstorming and collaboration. Figma also invited all developers and builders to create the first plugins and widgets for FIGJAM.
Figma also organizes online conferences, such as Config 2021, where users can learn from experts, network with peers, and celebrate their achievements. Figma also supports local communities by sponsoring meetups, workshops, and hackathons.
Adobe has a strong userbase thanks to industry-leading software and programs like Photoshop, AfterEffects, and Illustrator. When compared to Figma, Adobe’s community is a little more formal, whereas Figma’s seemed to have grown more organically over time.
Customer support boards are hosted on the Adobe Customer Support website, although the board only has 9.6K Conversations to date (for comparison, Photoshop has 81K+). An interesting feature of XD is the Adobe-hosted live streams, where you can watch other design pros work on a UI/UX project in real-time, and ask them questions.
Adobe also hosts various events and programs to connect and inspire its community. For example, in October 2021, Adobe announced that it acquired Figma for $20 billion. This was a huge news for both XD and Figma users, as it promised more integration and innovation between the two tools.
Adobe also organizes online conferences, such as Adobe MAX 2021, where users can discover new features, learn from experts, and network with peers. Adobe also supports local communities by sponsoring meetups, workshops, and hackathons.
Sketch’s community may be slightly smaller in numbers than Figma or XD’s but they’re fiercely loyal and quick to help any struggling designers who need guidance.
Sketch also runs Ambassador and Sketch Advocate programs. With dedicated online communities for Sketch tech support, plugin and resource development, and even online classes, Sketch also encouraged (pre-COVID) local meetups with other ambassadors.
Sketch also hosts various events and initiatives to engage and empower its community. For example, in September 2021, Sketch launched Sketch Cloud Inspector Beta, a new feature that allows users to inspect designs online without installing Sketch or any plugins.
Sketch also organizes online conferences, such as Sketch Together 2021 (coming soon), where users can learn from experts, network with peers, and celebrate their achievements. Sketch also supports local communities by sponsoring meetups, workshops, and hackathons.
The Figma Starter account is free to use and includes one team project, unlimited cloud storage, files in drafts, viewers, commenters, and editors on 3 team files.
The next pricing tier is Professional, $12 per editor/per month billed annually, or $15 on a month-to-month basis. You’ll get unlimited projects, unlimited version history, custom file/user permissions, invite-only private projects, and the highly useful shareable team library.
The highest pricing tier is Organization, $45 per editor/per month billed annually. You’ll get everything in Professional, plus org-wide libraries, design system analytics, branching and merging, centralized file management, unified admin and billing, private plugins and widgets, and single sign-on.
Figma also offers a free plan for students and educators.
Adobe XD is available for a free trial of 7 days, bumping up to US$9.99/per month. This plan includes unlimited cloud storage, unlimited editors on shared documents and coediting in real time, unlimited shared links with password protection and private invites.
The Adobe Creative Cloud for US$52.99/per month includes Adobe XD and comes with 20+ other programs including Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects.
Adobe also offers a free plan for students and educators.
When choosing which package to purchase through Sketch, you have two choices: a Sketch subscription, and a Mac-only license. The Sketch subscription is like a full package (live collaboration, developer handoff, etc). The Mac-only licenses only include the Mac editor app and therefore no access to any of their collaborative features. Be sure to check which one is best suited for you.
Sketch Standard, designed for solo users and teams, will set you back $9 per editor/ per month or $99 per editor/annually. You’ll get unlimited documents and projects, version history, shared Libraries, members, guests, and unlimited free viewers. The Standard tier is also offered as a 30-day free trial which can be cancelled anytime.
For larger teams, you’ll need to contact Sketch directly for a quote.
Sketch also offers a free plan for students and educators.
Figma vs Adobe XD vs Sketch: The Showdown
As you can see, each design tool has its own strengths and weaknesses. The best tool for you depends on your personal preference, budget, project needs, and team collaboration.
However, based on our comparison, we would recommend Figma as the best option for most designers in 2023. Figma has a large and diverse community that is constantly creating and sharing new resources and tips. Figma also has a vibrant and supportive community that offers feedback and help. Figma also has a generous free plan that includes most of its features and functionality. Figma also has affordable plans that offer more value and flexibility than Adobe XD or Sketch.