When to use sketch and when to use Axure

Hello, i am currently doing my second prototype using Axure. It’s for a mobile web app (not a native app, but a web app) which will have a shopping cart.

I am having a hard time trying to figure it out when to use sketch and when to use Axure. I find that i can do on Axure the whole thing without using sketch. I don’t even understand why should i use the Sketch Axure plugin to import my files from sketch since i think i can just start the whole prototype on sketch. I was giving “life” or movement to my sketch artboards and screens by using Principle, which is a separate tool some sketch users might know. But i just keep thinking, gee all this (the design and the basic animations) could be done on Axure Rp9. So im starting the whole thing again on Axure Rp9

I m thinking a lot of the times you don’t even need sketch at all. Well im going to start de design of web app on Axure Rp9, (bypassing sketch) and then giving it movement (prototyping it) also on Axure Rp 9 (bypassing Principle) if i find something of value on my journey i will share it here.

But if someone has stopped using sketch and or principle to just use Axure Rp9, or a similar experience please let me know your thoughts.

Thanks in advanced.

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Do what works for you. Really, that’s it. Assess your needs and see what fits. You don’t need justify anything beyond that (unless you’re trying to justify an expense).

I’ve used Sketch and Axure side-by-side, for different things. In a team environment I much prefer Sketch because it’s support for shared design system is far superior to Axure’s. We could manage it centrally and updates would automatically get pushed to designers and they could pull the updates into their files, in place. It’s visual design tools were also just better. The specs and output is also better for developers thanks to Sketch-adjacent tools like Zeplin. Though I know Axure now has a similar feature, I’ve just never used it yet (but big points for Axure there).

But as soon as we need something with motion or an even moderately complex prototype, Axure was go-to. Axure can do pretty much anything I need, and if it can’t, I can hack it so it does.

So to sum it up, in my work I never even bothered to compare the two because they did different things for me. It was always apples and oranges.

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Thanks for you input

I don’t know if it helps, but if I may ridiculously over-expand on the above perfectly good answer, the way I think about tools is in terms of what stage I’m at in the design process.

Design generally separates into three main thought processes: interaction design, information architecture and visual design. They overlap somewhat of course, but if you think of them as zones of consideration:

  • Interaction design is mainly about empathy: what does the user really need, and how best should the system behave to facilitate that?
  • Information architecture can be empathetic as well as manipulative: what information should we expose the user to so that they understand something we or they want/need them to understand?
  • Visual design is manipulative (not empathetic). How do we want the user to react emotionally to the system?

Interaction design, like visual design and information architecture, requires rapid experimentation. Until you’ve interacted properly with a UI, you can’t really know if your ideas will work in the way you want. Axure allows fast experimentation with different approaches because it has things like content abstraction though the use of repeaters, reusable interactive components (with polymorphism via raised events), and a number of other very powerful features that allow you to make huge changes to complex interaction approaches in very short periods of time very cheaply by not using an engineer’s time. Axure is a tool that facilitates the “double diamond” model of design.

Sketch is primarily a visual design tool which is optimised for the consideration of the gestalt of the UI: how it looks, the visual emphasis and flow, etc. It’s not so well suited to wholesale change though, since its emphasis is on the latter stages of UI design.

So for simple projects in which interaction design or IA aren’t much of an issue, then you can design the whole project in Sketch and hand off to developers as part of the final production work. But for anything more than a simple project, I would use Axure first to avoid the risk of producing a bad design overall.

As an aside, my personal opinion is that when we hear about systems that are difficult to use, the majority of these have not had sufficient consideration paid to different ways in which the interaction design could have been done. Indeed it seems the majority of digital systems today often look great but work badly. I believe “tool confusion” may be a large contributor to that.