4 ways to be more efficient in Sketch
Includes a Material Design icon symbol library!
1. Power up your libraries.
What are libraries?
Libraries are Sketch documents, typically full of helpful symbols, that can be used globally. New to Sketch? Start Here
Why should I use Libraries?
Libraries provide a single source of truth and can be linked across documents and even projects.
How do I maximize the power of Libraries?
Get started with robust libraries. Libraries that are packed with great symbols can speed up the ideation process tremendously. Have you ever been on a roll with some exciting new ideas, wanting to mock them up quickly, but then gotten side-tracked searching through folders only to find that you are losing valuable time? Or have you quickly generated the idea, but ended up getting pulled into the black hole of editing the subtle details of a simple component? With robust, well-organized libraries you can easily select the component your thinking of, and with just a couple of clicks swap it out for something else.
After a project has moved past the ideation phase, I typically like to transition to a new Library for that specific project. Once the direction of the project is dialed in, you probably won’t need most of the original library anymore. This is a point where it is easy to make the mistake of leaving the libraries altogether. Libraries still have so many great uses for keeping the project organized and maintaining the ability to pivot easily.
Integrate the project Library with the app’s style guide. I find this to be most effective when these two documents are one and the same, meaning the app style guide lives inside the project library file. If this is properly integrated, a color change would update across not only all projects using the library, and all linked documents, but also the style guide used by development.
I’ve created an icon symbol library using open source Material Design icons to get you started linking and styling symbols from libraries!
2. Use page logic.
This might seem like an obvious efficiency tip, but pages can easily get out of hand, forgotten about, or even overlooked altogether.
Have you ever gotten a document and had to take a good couple hours reorganizing things in a way that makes sense to you? What if you’re sharing that document with them? Do you then have to learn to get acquainted with someone else’s organization — or lack thereof? Having a consistent baseline page and organizational logic shared with your team really lowers the time it takes to dive into each-others documents. It helps keep the team happy and frustration-free too!
What is Page Logic?
My golden rule of efficiency: Define a system, and stick with it.
For projects with frequent releases, the organization I use is typically by release date, this is because features often live in various states across multiple releases.
For a project in the discovery or exploratory phase, the organization is more likely to be by feature, because the feature only needs to live in one state.
3. Get comfortable nesting.
Generally, using nested symbols and groups effectively greatly accelerates the speed and scalability of your designs. Like everything, there are exceptions to this too. When you’re in the rapid ideation phase of designing your product, nested symbols and organized groups can sometimes slow you down, instead of making things more efficient.
I find that a loose organization is often best while ideating, but once a design is in a solid place, or a direction has been chosen, it is time to tighten up the organization again. This can be a challenge because there are often still good ideas in the process work.
To solve this problem when ideating, I create a new page for explorations, unique to the document version. Once fully explored, put the designs back into the page they belong, and save and remove that page. This way you never lose the work that’s been done, but it keeps the master document tight and clean.
4. Lock-In Your Styles
If you’re not already an avid style user, your process might be just as fast as using them. Until… you need to change all your Avenir typography to San Fransisco, or all your cards to a light gray with no shadow instead of white with a 4px drop shadow. You are now going through all your layers and artboards, probably missing some along the way, changing each symbol and text box separately. This takes more time, and can also make things more complicated in development.
Linking your typography and repeated elements, as styles, doesn’t only allow for a faster creation of new elements, but also gives you one source of truth for that style that can be updated everywhere with just one click.
For those times when styles get out of hand, there’s a plugin for that too! Unused Style Remover will take care of all those extra styles leftover from the past.
Libraries, nesting elements, using page logic, and styling elements are all features of Sketch, with no plugins required, that will make you a more efficient UX designer.
We’re posting Sketch tips and tricks every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until the holidays, so stay tuned for more tips and tricks!
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