Posted 18th May 2017 | By Jack Rogers, Web Designer

I’m a designer at ExtraMile and we’re currently involved in Learning At Work week - a week that offers opportunities for companies to engage its employees in ways to progress their knowledge. Ours runs over a week, but that’s because we have loads of great opportunities to learn more about all of our various departments.

I ran an internal training course on an alternative design platform, and I chose Sketch. Now to run an internal training course on Sketch I had to learn about it myself to see how good it really was. This consisted of me reading an endless amount of blogs about the program itself and watching YouTube tutorials. All of these appealed to me, the designer, but how does it transfer to everyone else in the company. Do they see the excitement and positives of this software as much as I do?

My internal training consisted of getting myself and nine other colleagues to create their own news website on whatever topic took their fancy. Our skills all varied from the occasional use of previous design platforms to some with no experience at all.

Within the training course, I wanted to try and utilise as many tools that Sketch offers in order to give a better representation of how it works and what we have to do as designers to achieve an end result. Also, to make my training as fun as possible to keep everyone engaged and enthusiastic.

The agenda for my Sketch training was:

  • Sketch Set Up
  • Sketch Shortcuts
  • Sketch Symbols
  • Design your own blog/news website
  • Using Craft to increase productivity
  • Craft Capabilities
  • Sketch Shortcuts
  • Sketch an InVision integration for developers

Whilst putting my training together I wanted to give my colleagues a time frame to complete various tasks to give them an idea of designing to timeframes. I did this by timing how long it took me and multiplying it by three. It’s safe to say that despite my efforts it was harder than first expected to try and pass my skills on to others to create a design in Sketch within that timeframe. At first, I saw this as a slightly disappointing outcome to see that I wasn’t able to showcase this effectively. However, it ended up turning into an incredible training point. Everyone realised just how picky and monotonous it can be to do what seems to be the simplest of tasks.

After the training, I was keen to get the opinions of a few colleagues around the office to see what impressions they got from Sketch and how they think it could or couldn’t improve our processes at ExtraMile Communications. Did they see the plus points I see as a designer, or is it just another piece of software that’s going to be a trend?

Ean Faragher (Operations Director)
Sketch allows us to offer an outstanding level of service during the design process by streamlining the more time-intensive tasks using traditional graphics software. As an example, the ability to pull content from an existing website into a new design using the Craft plugin saves a lot of time copying and pasting but offers a ‘real’ experience for the client rather than boring Lorem Ipsum. The export process using Sketch is phenomenal, with a few simple mouse clicks our designers can hand over all of the design assets (including CSS properties) in one simple to use format for our developers - this means a greater understanding of the requirements for the developers and fewer questions needing to be answered, saving time on both sides of the fence.

Shannon Wright (Creative Manager)
The most appealing aspect of Sketch is that is has been crafted by designers and developers, for designers and developers. All you need to do is open the software and you can tell this straight away. Sketch as a piece of software is faster, more lightweight, cheaper and enables a more streamlined design handover with its clever integrations with the likes of the equally fantastic InVision and the Craft plugin. It makes the design process for UX and UI design seamless.

Mark Holloway (Web Developer)
I think Sketch will be a great addition to the development workflow, it will streamline the way we transform the designs into reality. The benefit of using sketch will be the way it integrates with external platforms, for example using InVision we will be able to extract both images and style from one location using the InVision inspect tool.

We are very much still in the process of learning about Sketch and seeing how it can integrate into our design processes. We need to make sure that the crossover between design and development isn’t affected by the switch to Sketch and to provide further internal training on how we bridge the gap between design and development. We also need to find the time around projects to increase our knowledge on Sketch to make sure we are using it to its full potential. There are so many plugins out there to help progress our knowledge further and to also maximise our productivity and this is something the design team are incredibly excited to dive into.

I’m excited to start using Sketch a lot more and I hope to create more blogs in the future on how we have progressed with Sketch and whether it has become a part the designers family of design software.

Thanks for reading, Jack.

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