- Text Elad Levkovitz
- Date April 17, 2018
- Est Read time 6 min
- Illustration author Daniela Geigner
UI and UX design can be overwhelming. The enormous amount of new trends, tools, and techniques appearing every day on the Web is confusing, even for the most battle-hardened among us. Thankfully, some tools provide multiple services at once, enabling us to save time, money and brain cells. Take, for example, Sketch: this all-in-one design solution helps you design pixel perfect interfaces, interactions and even animations.
Although Sketch itself is an incredibly powerful platform, its inventors have built an infrastructure for developers and designers to develop great plugins and add-ons that can magically enhance your experience. In the last year alone, the number of plugins for Sketch has grown to over 800. Most can be downloaded for free, while others are premium. Some are very rich, adding an entire interface into Sketch, while others add more subtle features, but are equally useful in the design process. And, of course, the list goes on.
To simplify everything, I’ve collected a list of the best 18 free Sketch plugins that will make your life easier (and probably more efficient).
Auto-Layout by AnimaApp is a Sketch plugin that integrates seamlessly into Sketch and enables the designing of fully responsive artboards. It lets you automate the way you build wireframes by replicating symbols and their relative positions. Also, it helps in building complex repeating layouts using flexbox and grid concepts from CSS.
Dynamic Button is a great plugin for designing responsive buttons. It’s especially useful when designing the same website, animation or anything else in a variety of different languages. To ensure the design of each language is aligned, we strive to give specific spacing rules to each button or element. For example, when you develop a button in CSS, the shape of the labeling text automatically adapts. This keeps the padding you defined in the properties, without any extra effort. Dynamic Button allows buttons to automatically expand, based on the text they contain.
With Compo, you can design next-level dynamic components. Like the Dynamic Button plugin, it has the power to make your components responsive and work more like CSS. It enables you to set the spacing rules between elements so that each component is automatically placed according to what you defined. For example, if you’re creating a series of buttons, each with text of a different length, the plugin makes sure that the copy fits into each button aesthetically, according to your spacing rules.
This Sketch plugin is no-nonsense: it’s simple and intuitive, doing exactly what it says on the box. It helps you quickly find those sneaky floating layers whose pixels aren’t perfectly aligned. You can then fix their X, Y, width or height properties, ensuring your design is accurate down to the last pixel.
Sketch Palettes allows you to save and load color palettes straight into Sketch. It grabs the colors from the “Document Colors” section of the color picker and saves them as a “.sketchpalette” file. You’re then free to share them with any other people who have the same plugin.
This tool lets you choose from thousands of icons from FontAwesome, Ionicons and Material icons. You can browse, then download and install any font that you want to use, without having to add each font icon separately – we all know that can be a real pain. You can also easily insert icons as text and convert them to outlines.
Spotted a color scheme you want to get your hands on? Alembic helps you extract a color palette from any layer that contains bitmap data, then use it in your own designs. It even works for images and layers with a pattern fill. Take an image that you feel conveys the right atmosphere for your work and use the tones to set the atmosphere you’re going for.
If you’ve been missing Illustrator’s “Select Similar Objects” feature, meet the super useful plugin: “Select Similar Layers”. It lets you pick out the layers whose attributes are similar, in terms of fill color, gradients, images, patterns, border color, border size, font, opacity and blending mode.
This plugin helps you find and use the color palettes of pretty much any app. Once you open up this gem, you can choose from a list of well-known brands, from Duolingo to Facebook, and take a look at their shades. This will save you the time of searching the web for famous color schemes.
Text and content plugins
Content Generator is a Sketch plugin that generates dummy data for your project, filling it with content so that it looks as close to the finished product as possible. You can easily add various elements, such as avatars, names, photos, geodata and more. Once you drag a layer or text to your artboard, you’ll be able to generate any kind of dummy content in order to bring your designs to life.
Have you ever designed an interface in English, then translated it to another language, only to find that it completely ruined the design? The inventors of Translate.me know exactly what you’re talking about. If you want to test how any kind of layer, artboard or page looks in a different language, this tool enables you to translate it easily. As a result, your designs can be more scalable and consistent.
When your projects involve videos, it can be tough to envision how the final product will look if you’re working with Sketch. With Gif.me, you can add animated GIFs and videos straight into your files in Sketch. It will give you more of a sense of the finished piece while you design.
13. SVGO Compressor
Here’s a highly useful plugin that doesn’t require many words. It simply compresses SVG assets using SVGO, as soon as you export them. It does it automatically, so you won’t have to do a thing.
14. Magic Mirror
Designing mockups in Sketch can sometimes be tricky, but Magic Mirror allows you to easily generate high-quality ones. With this plugin, you can create 3D mockups on your flat screens and achieve any kind of perspective transformation, using your shapes, layers and artboards.
15. Magic Presenter
Ever wanted to create quality designed presentations? Now you can. By turning artboards into slides on Sketch, Magic Presenter enables you to make high-quality slideshows, taking them to a whole new level. You’ll no longer have to export elements into a separate program, as the plugin contains all the familiar tools and features you may know from other presentation making software.
16. Invision Craft
Craft is probably one of the most famous plugins for Sketch. It has a whole range of functionalities: you can sync your artboards to InVision, add external libraries and data, duplicate layouts and publish an interactive prototype from linking artboards. It’s a truly useful tool, filled with handy features that will make you wonder how you ever managed without them.
AnimateMate allows you to create and export simple animations straight out of Sketch. It’s a hassle-free tool that will help you add micro-interactions SVG animations and more to your work. With a growing number of features, including the possibility to emphasize behaviors in your designs, it’s definitely one to get your hands on.
Have you ever used a flowchart? It’s true that they can be really useful, but they’re often quite a hassle to create. Sketch User Flows enables you to generate beautiful flowcharts using your artboards in Sketch. This is especially convenient for UX designers, as it offers you a comfortable way to get an overview of your product in seconds.