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Design

Jacqui Purdy
Jacqui Purdy
12,512 Points

Is there a downside to using InDesign for web mockups?

I'm a print designer transitioning into web design and am curious if anyone has an opinion about using InDesign for creating website/software mockups?

I've been trying to force myself to use Illustrator, but I'm so incredibly familiar with InDesign, it's starting to feel like I'm wasting time. I could mockup the designs so much faster using a program that is completely second nature to me.

Are there reasons I don't know about that I should be using Illustrator instead? Is it frowned upon to use InDesign for web mockups, or is it more about what the designer is most comfortable with?

5 Answers

Kevin Korte
Kevin Korte
28,109 Points

Nobody really cares if you use a ball peen hammer or a claw hammer to build a house. All we care about is the quality of the house when you're done. How you got there, and the tools you use hardly matter. Use the tools most comfortable to you.

That's my advice anyway.

Aaron Martin
Aaron Martin
1,855 Points

While I agree with both answers to a small extent, some tools are meant to be used certain ways and others aren't. You can use a screwdriver as a hammer because you have that in your pocket, but no one is going to make a real case that it's the best way to do it.

The tools you use absolutely matter, especially in the real world. How quickly you make things properly affects your deadlines and deliverables, they allow you to properly and accurately deliver assets to developers. Photoshop vs. Sketch vs. Illustrator vs. Fireworks: that's a good argument because they're all tools that can do similar things appropriately.

Would you layout a whole book in Photoshop just because you know it better? No. You learn to use tools by using them, and the sooner you start using them the sooner you'll be proficient. Move in to Illustrator, Photoshop, or Sketch as soon as possible.

Jacqui Purdy
Jacqui Purdy
12,512 Points

Thanks for your response Aaron, but could you be more specific? I'm curious in particular what the downside is to using InDesign vs. Illustrator for a web mockup, because so far in my limited experience, I have not run into a situation where I could not accomplish with InDesign the same thing I was with Illustrator. Can you give me an example of a particular feature that either exists only in illustrator but not InDesign, or works better for web design mockups in Illustrator vs. Indesign and why? I'm wondering if there is something that I'm not aware of yet and should be. I just don't see why it would be easier to translate a PDF to HTML/CSS depending on if it was created in photoshop, illustrator or indesign... it's still a PDF once it reaches the ready to code stage, no? (I should also specificy, when I say mockups, I'm talking about higher fidelity mockups... not something that would be done in sketch or balsamiq )

Dylan Grey Aksomitas
PLUS
Dylan Grey Aksomitas
Courses Plus Student 15,083 Points

In my opinion, the only reason to use a specific tool would be if you were on a design team where the majority of the designers were using something different, and it would hinder the workflow if you didn't make the switch. I think you should stick with what you know, so that you can perfect your workflow and eye for web design. Once you consider yourself a solid designer, then you can experiment with different programs.

I used Fireworks for years when everyone said it was subpar and not good enough. Now I use Photoshop and Sketch, and haven't opened Illustrator in months.

Dylan Grey Aksomitas
PLUS
Dylan Grey Aksomitas
Courses Plus Student 15,083 Points

I agree with everything Aaron said, my original answer was from a position that I have no idea what Jacqui's web/mobile/app design experience is, how familiar he is with the many screen resolutions, how responsive pages should be laid out, how basic interactions should work and how to think through a user flow. Sometimes it can be easier to learn the fundamentals if you don't need to learn a different software at the same time. At least he can get his ideas down with InDesign currently and progress from there.

However, If you have a pretty solid understanding of these things, then you should certainly move towards a piece of software that you're going to encounter in the professional world (PS, IL, Sketch). You should also have some familiarity with HTML/CSS3 so that you know what's possible in development. You'll be working with PSD's (or .sketch files in Sketch) and creating slices for the devs, along with dealing with icons, sprites etc. And you could be using Illustrator for icons as well. Most likely you won't be dealing with PDF, but that's just in my experience.

Aaron Martin
Aaron Martin
1,855 Points

Sketch is high-fidelity and meant for designing and not just wireframing. It's a main purpose of it's programming: to scale to great sizes so you can retain quality for bigger and bigger screen densities. And what's the PDF connection? Why are you making a PDF for web design?

As to why you'd use Illustrator over InDesign for web design: better illustration capabilities, manipulation, exporting of assets, scaling, pixel previewing. But, I also wouldn't recommend Illustrator over Sketch or Photoshop for web and UI design. My overall point would be that you don't use InDesign for creation of anything web related, you could only ever use it to maybe layout things you've created elsewhere, so why use InDesign at all?

Jacqui Purdy
Jacqui Purdy
12,512 Points

Thank you for taking the time to elaborate on this... part of my concern was that I would be looked down upon by other web design/development professionals if I continue to use InDesign for web related work and it sounds like I will.

My boss requires me to email PDF previews of web designs for his review, so in my particular situation, a PDF is always going to be the format for presentation to the decision maker (I guess this is not the norm?)

One thing I will mention is that I don't only use InDesign to layout things created in other programs. It is possible to create vector based illustrations with InDesign just like in Illustrator (though I agree Illustrator has more capabilities, like the gradient mesh tool for example... and I haven't figured out how to create a star/starburst in InDesign as easily as in Illustrator).

Two reasons I (so far) prefer to use Indesign over Illustrator are the ease of manipulating text/fonts/paragraph layout and ease of working with pixel based images alongside the vector elements (particularly in situations where I'm working with a background image and deciding on how to best crop/position it within the design).

Based off your response, it sounds like I just need to learn more about Illustrator and I'll understand why it is the preferred program for web design. Thank you again for all your advice, it is greatly appreciated!