Designing websites in 2016

by Joe Mitchell

The future looks bright for web designers with many new options becoming available, creating a shift away from the Adobe-centric climate many of us have come to accept. Whether you design websites in Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign, your process still likely revolves around the Adobe Creative Suite. With the introduction of Sketch in recent years and its rise in popularity, Adobe is having to push its own boundaries to compete, which is great news for the consumer. In this blog post I explore some existing tools and what the future might hold.

  • Sketch 4

    Scheduled for release sometime in 2016, not much is known about Sketch 4, as smaller increments (Sketch 3.3 and 3.4) are still being produced. Regardless, with the impact Sketch has had on the Web Design industry so far, Sketch 4 is one to look out for. Stripping away lots of excess weight from Photoshop, Fireworks and Illustrator, and combining the best bits for website design of the three, Sketch has a clear focus in its application and it’s this niche aim that has drawn so many designers from the industry into using it. If they could release a version for Windows and work on clearing the long list of bugs with the software, I really believe it could be an Adobe killer in the web design world. The only question is can it fully deliver before Adobe catches up?

  • Bootstrap

    Bootstrap Studio

    Brand new but not technically affiliated with the makers of Bootstrap, Bootstrap Studio aims to minimise complexity and increase productivity. By ditching many of the design tools such as brushes and pens, this app allows a user to focus on layouts using the existing Bootstrap framework and themes that have proven to be successful. Another advantage with Bootstrap Studio is that once you are happy with your site design you can very easily export all the markup and code and have a web-ready, responsive site with very little effort. Whilst this app makes website design and creation incredibly accessible, the design options are so limited I don’t believe any serious Web Designer could use this tool to any great effect, and so it’s position in the market must be more aimed towards complete beginners or small business owners looking to take on the responsibility of website creation themselves.

  • Bootstrap 4

    More of a foundation than a tool, Bootstrap’s fourth incarnation is nearly ready. Currently in Alpha, Bootstrap 4 promises to reduce bloat and add more customisation than ever. With increasing adoption of the SASS CSS preprocessor, Bootstrap 4 has made the leap from LESS to SASS to accommodate the masses and promises faster loading speeds, more consolidation of files and better Javascript. Whilst this may all sound like jargon to some, for those that use the Bootstrap framework religiously it will be a much welcomed update.

  • Photoshop CC 2015 Design Space (preview)

    Photoshop Design Space preview is the big threat to the rise of Sketch. Released as a very simplistic (and utterly unusable) preview of a future tool hidden away in Photoshop CC 2015 this summer, Design Space shows that Adobe have finally realised they need a dedicated web design tool. Should your computer meet the required specifications, you are able to turn on design space in the ’Preferences’ section. There you can see a vastly different UI, new icons, lots of clean space and much quicker access to the most useful tools. After working in Photoshop for so long, this is a breath of fresh air for me, and with library integration it has the ability to bring Adobe right up to date. However, in it’s current incarnation you couldn’t begin to design using it as there are too many vital tools missing. Luckily, Adobe is very aware of this and they have a nice Github blog detailing the progress that they are making

  • Project Comet

    Whilst there are a number of promising updates on the Design Space blog, you’ll notice the updates seem to have slowed recently. This is due to the announcement of Project Comet, which takes the Design Space tool out of Photoshop and into its own dedicated application. Touted to be released in 2016, Comet is the product Adobe will be releasing to contend with Sketch, and it looks great. Project Comet delivers everything we’ve been asking for for years and is certain to vastly improve web design workflows: allows Quick prototyping, asset library management and in-device previews to name a few,. For people already heavily invested in Adobe and their Creative Suite, this promises to be the solution we’ve been waiting for whilst jealously looking at Sketch users and their superior design and layout tools.

    All in all 2016 looks set to be an exciting year for website design and will provide designers with brand new tools and technologies to improve their processes and workflows.

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