• Chasm Communications

Designing Enterprise Applications: Tips and Tricks to Becoming A Sketch Ninja

September 26, 2018

Things change fast in the Enterprise design space so working smarter and faster is a necessity. That means mastering the tools available to you and improving communication with clients and your team. Check out these tips and tricks to help you improve your workflow and become a Sketch Ninja. 

1. Use the Flow!

When designing for Enterprise Applications, you are often asked to demo large flows of the application to the client or stakeholders. Usually, the client, stakeholders and others on the project want to see the application mockups live. They want to see a working flow to get a feel for the application and analyze some of the micro-interactions. Even more common is to use applications like InVision to show interactive prototypes. 

Using the Prototype feature in Sketch is a win all the way around. The prototype feature helps you as the designer keep track of the flow of your mockups that are created in large sets and allows others see that flow in action. It also aids in the organization of your mockups when transferring the flow to InVision. 

2. Built for Speed, Not for Comfort

Most designers and Sketch aficionados would agree that using symbols in Sketch is the way to go. I mean, what’s not to love, right? The power of symbols is easy to see. True power users can manipulate the overrides within a symbol to make using a library easy and libraries do wonders to keep your work consistent and easy to update with changes. 

Whether using symbols or not, Sketch is built for speed. Find the right times to use symbols because even though they usually help you work smarter and faster, symbols can be overused and have some limitations. Symbols can’t be used as masks and can be a headache to use if shared across a design team and the team doesn’t understand the structure of the symbols in play. The point is, creating mockups in Sketch should be relatively fast. Use symbols. Or don’t. If you do, do it quickly, cleanly, and use any tools available to help you achieve the objective. Things change fast in Enterprise design and adapting quickly is part of the game. 

3. The Library of Congress

When working on Enterprise Applications, particularly with a full design team, you need to keep and maintain an asset library. Whether using InVision’s DSM, or the Craft Library plugin, using and maintaining design assets is a must. Combining design ideas and assets with a client’s brand can be a daunting task in and of itself. Trying to manage that with an ever-changing design environment, as well as other visual design issues can become a real time waste. Solving pattern issues and consistency problems across the board can be an easier task if you have a fluid, well-crafted library. 

Combine this library with a fluid Style Guide, or better yet a Design System, and watch the productivity of the team increase tenfold. Having a Design System to back up your mockups and give other teams, like the Development Team, a reference point is also a big win. 

4. Plug it in!

There are a number of plugins you can use to enhance your Sketch productivity. While a lot of these plugins revolve around productivity enhancements, animations and the like, one of my favorites is the Stark plugin. The Stark plugin is focused on accessibility and allows you check contrast as well as run your mockups through colorblindness checks. I find this to be something I use on a very regular basis. 

In today’s design age, everyone wants clean and soft. Whatever that means. But what most designers miss is designing for accessibility. When this is overlooked, particularly in the Enterprise space, it can become a real problem – and even invite potential lawsuits. This is something that the Stark plugin helps you remedy. 

5. Share the Wealth!

One of the most common ways to increase your productivity and become a ninja in Sketch is to share share share. This is especially true if you work on a team. Having a central repository to share files across the team is obvious and imperative. What may not be so obvious but equally important is communicating what the patterns solve and the issues the mockups address. Why re-invent the wheel? Why recreate patterns from scratch? 

So how do you really become a ninja? Combine these strategies together and practice. Communicate with your team and the client. Work smart. Work fast. Share patterns. Share files. Use resources. 

Get it done.