I think the market for product designers stink. We have no real loyalty and minimal budget. I would never join a startup that targets me as a customer. However, there are plenty of players out there. Here is my prediction for 2018 in the space:
The category king in many ways. Photoshop and Illustrator still dominate worldwide design. However, Silicon Valley and the early adopters have begun the revolt. Adobe has to re-earn loyalty from scratch the way Microsoft has lost Silicon Valley and early adopters as well for the OS.
For product design, Adobe has XD. I tried really hard to make it work, but it’s a a mess. It doesn’t really work, it’s missing features big and small. It seems like it will take them a long time to make this thing work. They are building in slo-motion. In 2018, I think Adobe will continue to slog through, but not make real progress. They will continue the slow and steady decline that will likely take 10 years to finally crater.
The newest competitor onto the stage, Figma has innovated in several areas. It is browser based and multi-player concurrent editing. It also has native prototyping built in. This formula is the right vision of the future. However, they are babies compared to established players. They need to work on performance, better prototyping and lots of details.
My prediction is that Figma will go viral in 2018 and they will freak out. In other words, success is not always a good thing. I think Figma may be crushed under the usage load and bright lights of a hungry audience. Their community is not scalable, the permissions system is really basic and there are bugs. Figma is my current tool, but I am really afraid for them. This could be a train wreck if they don’t rise to the challenge of success.
Invision has grown steadily in the past few years based on strong prototyping and commenting. They rely on Sketch and Adobe to power the actual design process. There are competitors in prototyping, but they have largely been niche players. However, Invision must be aware of tools that combine prototyping AND design like Figma and Adobe XD. This is likely sending alarm bells off in Invision.
2018 should be the year that Invision makes a move into the design space. The question will be whether they can execute or not. This is a life and death struggle that they need to win to survive. My prediction is that their tool will not catch fire, mainly because it is difficult to pivot like that and cannibalize your strongest partner (Sketch).
The darling of Silicon Valley, this Illustrator look-a-like only works on Mac. I have never used it because I am on Windows, but people who use it will rave nonstop to anyone who will listen. HOWEVER, the lack of native prototyping has forced Sketch into a strong partnership with Invision. So here comes Adobe from one end and Figma on the other. Meanwhile your strongest partner (Invision) is going to start and compete with you. This is a serious flaw for Sketch.
My prediction for Sketch is grim. I think they are fucked. It’s possible they try to get into the prototyping game and compete with Invision (again a strategic dilemma). However, I haven’t heard anything in this vein. Ultimately, I think their lack of cross-platform use will be an Achilles heel.
This is a real battle for the hearts and minds of product designers world wide. We have little money and complain alot. We use a ton of resources and will switch to a competitor on a moments notice. We suck as customers.