Which web/digital design tool is best to focus on?


New to the group so please be patient.

My background is in corporate design, print and digital. For the last 5.5 years, I worked for a company that for not entirely bad reasons was behind in its digital game. I used Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator to create digital mock-ups. I’m now looking for a new job. There seem to be a lot of opportunities for people who know Sketch or Figma. I’ve been studying Sketch, I don’t find it difficult but now I’m seeing it’s no longer all that favored. It’s also frustrating because I don’t believe staff designers often times have the responsibility of creating web pages from scratch. Are the jobs that want one role to include Indesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Sketch, Figma, XD, Premiere Pro, and After Effects for real, or are they simply trying to find a unicorn at a time when a lot of people are willing to take any job because there aren’t many available? If I invest the time in learning a digital layout tool, which should I go with? I have the Creative Suite so I’m thinking XD but will it translate?

All of that software you list does different things with differing levels of complexity (both input and output).
By “digital layout tool” I’m guessing you mean website and UI design?

I don’t think there’s a specific recommendation that’s all-around better than another.

The very first website I built was back in the mid-90s for a daily newspaper. It was all hand-coding back then.

Today, twenty-some years later, what was reasonably simple has become needlessly complex to the point where it’s easier to build a robotic spacecraft to land on Mars than it is to build a website from scratch.

There are dozens of CMSs, frameworks, languages, pre-processors and various tools to do this and that and everything in between. I purposely avoid building websites any longer because the whole field is such a mess.

People can get online and for a few dollars build a drag-and-drop website for almost free. However, if they want a seemingly minor but unique feature added that requires custom programming the fee can suddenly increase to a $100,000.

I know a guy who bills himself as a web developer/designer. He does OK for himself, but everything he knows takes place inside Wordpress using a Divy framework. The last web design project I took on was about a year ago. The company insisted that I build it in some gawd-awful CMS called Hugo that was tied into GitHub and required working through a command line interface using my Mac’s Terminal application.

Sketch, Figma, XD, WordPress, Joomla, Wix, Drupal, LESS, SASS, whatever — every place that does web development does it differently. In places where teams of people work together, the tasks are typically broken up in specialties, but whether or not, as a group, they specialize in this or that or use this piece of software as part of their workflow or another piece of software, it all seems to depend on the system they’ve developed for themselves. There seems to be little rhyme or reason to it all.

If there’s one thing that can be counted on, it’ll all change by next year when the newest bit of complexity grabs everyone’s attention.

Yes, that’s what I mean but I’m afraid what I mean isn’t important. I’m trying to figure out what the responsibilities on the job would be.

To me, to expect one designer to work in that wide of a variety of tools is like asking an interior designer to create architectural blue prints for a building AND chose which tile would be best for the kitchen. It’s not that the interior designer might not have an opinion and good ideas for how to improve the look of the building but there’s so much more to be considered by an architect that simply isn’t the interior designer’s sensitivity.

However, it’s so prevalent in job descriptions, I’m wondering if I’m missing something.

I’m comfortable picking up a wire frame and fleshing it out. Which software should I focus on if that’s what I want to do?

Thank you! This really helps and explains a lot! These job postings are probably trying to replace, or supplement, someone who’s already an integral part of a team but is not working up to speed because they have kids at home or something.

I like the prospect of learning new skills, however, I don’t like the prospect of chasing a new skill, mastering it just in time for the next new thing to come out.

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