When faced with design challenges, we have to remind ourselves that we are not the users. Times where I find the situation reversed is while using my tools as a designer. Whether I am creating visual assets or recording/editing audio and video, the programs I use need to be in working order.
I might be showing my age, but I remember the excitement of purchasing programs on a disk. Hard copy. You put it in the CD drive, install, and BAM! You are creative beast that can’t get enough. Time goes by, and then there are newer versions that come along. Cool. So, you either order the updated program by disk or download. But, you still have a little more control than an automatic download and install in the background, or as soon as you boot up your computer, or while you’re sleeping, or by cloud software, or…..you get the point. There’s nothing that can drive your pressure up like going to your computer and your program does not open because of an incompatible update. The icing on that cake is when you reach out to customer care and can’t reach a human for the next couple of days.
Some designer software can be very complex and very expensive. When it comes to empathy for the users with the problem of updates and compatibility, there aren’t many that handle this well. As a matter of fact, I have open source programs that handles this problem better than the subscription service programs. Let’s take a look at some and discuss which ones get it right or need to step it up when it comes to their consumers.
Adobe- Getting better. Adobe actually does listen to their user needs. They send out surveys constantly to get into the minds and workflow of those that use their products. While using their cloud services, they can tell you if your operating system can handle any update. If it can’t, they don’t even give you the option to update and they keep the present version intact. Where they can improve is providing easy access to the older versions of applications that your operating system can handle. What’s the point of paying for a subscription if you can’t get to the program that fits your setup?
Figma- I love Figma. Having the option to also use it in a web browser is probably the most genius idea ever. Then you don’t have to worry about updates or compatibility. I do use the application as well and have been through several installs that have never had a problem with my operating system. There really isn’t enough I can say about a designer focused tool that works so well.
Sketch- Step it up. I bought Sketch sometime last year for the classes I was taking because Figma was on the down low for some. It was very buggy and frustrating as far as workflow. For some odd reason I also had Sketch files that somehow became corrupted and would not open. So, I went back to Figma.
Blender- I love Blender. It is open source, the tools for 2D and 3D are amazing, and the updates haven’t had a problem. I’m just beginning with Blender, but I haven’t run into any problems so far compared to other 2D/3D programs.
Unreal Engine- Step it up. There are several threads about how people aren’t able to launch the program on their computer. No one really knows an answer, and no matter which version is downloaded this problem remains. This is disappointing because I would love to use the program, but because of this I either use Blender or….
Unity- I’m cool with Unity. I prefer the Blender workflow and editing options, but Unity is good to have as another tool in my toolbox. Plus, it is another program that has free versions.
Spline- It’s ok. There’s a free version of this 2D/3D program, it’s user intuitive due to limited editing options, and it’s cute and colorful. The only problem is the limitations of the free version. You can’t render video, and for some odd reason you can’t save your projects even though the option is there. I’ve saved my projects and reopened the application to find them gone. So…..yeah. Back to Blender.
As time goes on, there will be more new versions, more updates, and more compatibility concerns. My only hope is that as technology advances, the designers from the companies develop a better connection with the designers that use their products everyday as we are users too.