Experience Design, or XD for short, is Adobe's latest foray into the realm of user experience design. Still in beta (as of writing), the software was initially exclusive to OS but released for Windows at the end of 2016.
XD has two distinct purposes: Wireframing (titled Design in this instance) and Prototyping.
The Design mode is remarkably simple. It takes its lead from Illustrator in that its based on artboards. The first thing users will notice is the incredibly stripped back interface. A far cry from the long established stalwarts of Creative Cloud, there are only seven buttons within the toolbar. While this may be expanded closer to the full release date, the fact it limits the number of capabilities means the creator can focus on using it as a pure Wireframing tool, rather than as a replacement for Photoshop or Illustrator. Features include shape builders, bounding boxes for images, pixel-perfect grids and the ability to pull in assets from other programs within the CC suite. While limited in terms of features it feels slick, fast and thoroughly suited for rapid prototyping. If one wished to develop a full site design in XD they could do so but for the best results it would be achieved in tandem with Illustrator and Photoshop.
That brings me on to the other main feature of Adobe XD - the Prototype tab. Muscling in on the turf of industry leading UX software such as Axure, the Prototype mode allows a user to very quickly create a linked workflow of the project. Buttons, images and text can be linked to other artboards within the project. The interface feels more akin to an app rather than any of Adobe's previous software. The user simply clicks on an element they wish to use as a link object and a small arrow appears beside it. They drag the arrow to the screen they wish to connect to and it's now a working hyperlink. Some basic transitions are available. Once the creator is happy with the workflow they simply export it and share the project URL for others to review and add comments. This feature works in a similar way to InVision where comments can be placed over precise elements and written to the entire team or select individuals.
So how does it rate overall?
A working Prototype can be created in a matter of minutes and there's no reason to continue using other Adobe products for pure wireframes. XD creates these magnificently and will no doubt be improved further before the full release. Currently, the beta version is available to use for free and will eventually become part of the Creative Cloud suite, meaning users will not be required to pay for another subscription service.
Being in beta there are still inevitable drawbacks to using the software. One of the problems we faced was a lack of interactive support within the Prototype mode, for instance, there's no way to add an overlay feature such as a lightbox. To work around this we had to export the artboards and add the interactivity within InVision.
Nevertheless, XD is a welcome addition to a rapidly expanding industry. Try Adobe XD Beta for free here.