What role does Photoshop play in UX? *confused*


Hello everyone.

So, as you may have gathered by the subject, i’m super confused - I keep reading articles about why people are moving over from PS to sketch. Are they not completely different? What role does PS play in UX?

PS is a photo editor and Sketch is closer to Illustrator than PS.

My guess is, PS is used for high fidelity designs?


If I create wireframes and prototypes, can PS play a part in this? And if so, what are the benefits PS can bring over the likes of Sketch/Illustrator and prototyping it on inVision?


Ha, very fair question.

I suspect everyone will have a slightly different answer and a lot of it comes down to how much UI design you do and what your background is. A lot of people come to UX from a graphic design background and they’re already very familiar with PS/InDesign/Illustrator etc.

I think they then reach a point where other tools become clearly more fit for use, and make the change.

There is some discussion around it here that might be useful.


Photoshop is primarily used for editing and manipulating raster images and photographs. Over the years it’s grown to do a “few” other things like working w/ vector shapes, animations, etc., etc. Overtime it just grew into this all-in-one tool… Before Sketch came out this was how and where I created mockups and interfaces elements

Illustrator is purely a vector program. Many moons ago I worked in Ai as a prepress artist outputting, separating and designing film for silkscreen printing but nowadays I primary use Ai for creating wireframes and/or icons. Other designers can draw directly into it…

All that said, Sketch is more specialized in that it’s used for creating digital interfaces, can output specific assets to different resolutions. They include the ability to draw your own vector shapes (similar to Ai) and use a similar artboard functionality in order to create all the screens necessary in an application. Neither Sketch or Xd can manipulate photos like Ps. So, I still need Photoshop. Neither Sketch or Xd are as robust as Illustrator when it comes to creating vectors, so I still use Ai.

Sketch can create hi fidelity designs, just like Ps or Ai. Fidelity is simply how “finalized” something is. A sketch of a main menu would be low-fi while a full pixel-perfect mockup w/ photos, colors, typography, white space, etc., etc, would be considered high fidelity.

Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator, Xd — they’re all tools. Use them where you see fit, however it helps you get the job done bud.


Great reply, thank you.

I always viewed PS as a photo-editing tool only, and didn’t realise it had grown into an all-in-one tool as you said.

I’ve always put off PS, thinking… will I really need it as a UX designer? Do you recommend learning PS, then? Similar to UX designers now being advised to learn HTML/CSS and Javascript?

Oh, and thanks for the ‘fidelity’ definition. I always thought it meant a high level of detail within the design. :slight_smile:


Thanks Sarah.

For someone pushing into UX design, would you advise me to learn PS?

I’m going to get round to reading the linked post today :slight_smile:


Hey David! Glad to hear it’s making a bit more sense now.

I wouldn’t say you need to learn Ps, but my advice would be it wouldn’t hurt to become familiar with it… It’s simply a tool. If you can get wireframes, mockups, user journeys, sitemaps, etc., etc. all knocked out in Sketch, by all means, use Sketch.

So really - unless your editing photos or graphics for use within your interfaces, which doesn’t really sound like you are, Sketch would be your primary tool to create any deliverables that you have.

Does that makes sense? If not, do not hesitate to reach back out and we’ll keep chatting about it. I feel the same way when I hear new things all the time, you’ll get there!


Hi Daniel,

No, that’s great. I have a good insight now. I’m not sure I will be editing
graphics an images in the near future, but i best get that skill under my
belt at some point!

Thanks again.


I’m in agreement with Daniel. It’s super handy to know Ps but not at all crucial. I’d prioritise Sketch.


I’ll do exactly that :slight_smile:


thanks again both


Been designing on Sketch last couple of days now. It’s great, but soooooo slow at times!


Has anyone stopped using Photoshop because Adobe has gone over to subscription only?


I haven’t. I still have an old version that works fine.


I very much agree. There are many tools that can be turned to the task of UX design and illustration.

I’ve used many expensive and complex products over the years but I’ve never found that I needed Photoshop simply because I’m not prepared to live in the bitmap world when interfaces are better designed with vector graphics. Even so, if I were very familiar with Photoshop then I might use it as far as I can to avoid having to learn other products.

I’ve been working on a number of small community-led (and small-community led) projects. I prefer to keep direct costs down so teams can scale with little incremental cost. That generally means using open-source or free products that are compatible with the leading paid products (such as Microsoft Office, Photoshop, etc.) That’s why I’ve used free, open source GIMP instead of Photoshop - it has been, for example, compatible with many of the 8-bit Photoshop filters.

My recent experience in UX design uses Microsoft PowerPoint mainly because I use PowerPoint for other purposes most days of each week.

I’m leading a small team of volunteer developers to develope a multiplatform app for mobile and desktop. I’m the main designer particularly of the UX but I don’t decide everything. I rely on the programmers to decide the implementation methods as long as it delivers the functionality I need. We are using Visual Studio as our IDE so it was an easy decision for me to integrate Visual Studio with Microsoft Office. I use PowerPoint for storyboarding. I also use it to “sell” our ideas as the transition from storyboard to formal presentation is really easy.

I don’t recommend that everybody or anybody buy Office and learn PowerPoint. But if you already use them then it could be worth looking at the advanced features, of which storyboarding is one of many:

P.S. I thought about making this a separate topic but it could be split off into a new topic. I wanted to give a real example to illustrate the point, already made, that we can use a lot more tools than, and not even including, Photoshop.


Yes, I did. I used Photoshop for photo editing though, and not what is being discussed here.

The tools that you will need to use really depends on the area of UX that you live in.

For instance, if you’re working with interfaces then I would agree that Sketch is the app that you should consider prioritising over Photoshop. If however, you’re dealing more with wireframing then I would prioritise Axure over Sketch.


Nope! In fact, I feel I use more of their suite now that I subscribe.

Using Ps, Ai, Dw, Xd, and Ae. Plus, the libraries and additional cloud storage is swell.

Regardless, Sketch is still the popular tool amongst us UI/UX designers.


Feel free to try out Adobe Xd. It’s Adobe’s version of Sketch. It’s not as robust as Sketch but it’s extremely powerful and fast. As of late, this has been my primary tool for UI/UX deliverables.

I’m in love with it. Still, sketch is supreme.


Yeah I’ve been meaning to try this out before it comes off the Beta. I watched Matt Smith from Adobe introduce it not long ago, it looked pretty sweet.


When I first started doing UX/UI stuff, I used Photoshop and Illustrator because I was familiar with them coming from graphic design, however switched over to Sketch along the way and def find it a better tool overall for UX/UI. It’s just back in the day, there wasn’t a tool like that to use. So I’d say being a PS expert is not essential now, but knowing the basics of it can come in handy for specialized image work and such.