Photoshop 2015: The Ultimate Tool for UX Designers

By Brad Blyzwick, Senior Visual Designer View Comments

photoshop_2015.jpgFor the past 25 years, Photoshop has been a staple tool for much of the digital realm; specifically for designers. The program has evolved to meet designer needs, particularly since the inception of mobile devices, by implementing features such as smart objects, shape layers and asset generator that improve scalable art for a wide range of screen sizes.

Now, to improve workflow and efficiencies for UI/UX designers, Adobe has added some great features in Photoshop 2015.

Here are 6 new features that improve the overall application and use.

1. Artboards
This tool is fantastic. Illustrator has had this feature since CS6, which improved file organization and workflow exponentially. Photoshop artboards are very similar in that they allow the designer to:
  • Create various size artboards within a file
  • Copy and share content between artboards
  • Easily export one or all of the artboards

2. Device Preview
With Adobe Preview CC, users can preview mobile apps in-context and send mobile web designs directly from Photoshop to iOS devices. Once the native iOS app is downloaded, users can live preview in Photoshop via device wifi or USB plugin. This is a great addition to the program, giving users the ability to improve workflow since they don’t have to test in another third-party app.

3. New Export Options
Photoshop 2015 now allows you to save assets optimized specifically for web and app designs. These options provide the ability to export from a layer, group or artboard:

  • Quick export from multiple layers
    Export one or more layers as individual assets, or export a group of layers together as a single asset. Simply select the layers you want to export, right-click on any of the selected layers and choose Quick Export as PNG.

  • Export As... with multiple layers
    Use the Export As feature if you have multiple layer assets you want to export with different settings for each layer. Just select the layers you want to export, right-click and select Export As... You can then select each layer in the dialog box and customize the export settings.

  • Export the entire document
    Use the Export As feature to export the entire document. Go to File>Export>Export As... and select the artboards you want to export.

4. Guides
We all know how time consuming setting up guides for grids can be. Thankfully, Photoshop 2015 simplifies the process. You can now set up all of your guides quickly and easily through View> New Guide Layout… Within the dialog box, you can set parameters for columns, rows, gutters and margins. They have 4 of the most commonly used grids (8, 12, 16 and 24) and the ability to customize and save your own.

5. Multiple Instances of Layer Styles
For years, we have had to deal with creating layer styles individually and modifying the art to get the desired effects needed. Now you can duplicate layer styles within the same dialog box to get the desired effect quickly and easily.

6. Design Space (Preview)
Given all the third party wireframing tools out there, Adobe is making an attempt at integrating the same style of tools into Photoshop with Design Space. This feature strips out a lot of the tools and panels and creates a new space for UI/UX designers to focus on creating in a user-friendly experience. This is still a work in progress for Adobe, but it is a great step in the right direction for people using tools like Sketch or UXPin and the like. It will be great to see how this changes the workflow and efficiency over time.

Adobe added a handful of additional features besides the ones mentioned above. These are just a few that really focus on the UI/UX workflow. Feel free to visit adobe.com to see more of what was added to Photoshop and the Creative Cloud 2015 update.

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Posted in: User Experience