“Ten years ago there wasn’t a tool that defined standards when it comes to designing user interfaces,” explains Sketch’s co-founder and Chief Design Officer, Emanuel Sá. “We wanted a way to explain to people that interface design is not an afterthought. It is part of a huge process — but it’s not a small part. It needs to be well-done and understood by everyone involved. And most importantly it needs to be useable by everyone in the team. That was the goal with Sketch.”
Back in 2010, the design landscape looked very different. Skeuomorphism was the hot trend. Sharing platforms like Dribbble and Instagram didn’t exist yet. And design software simply wasn’t as accessible as it is today.
“We wanted a way to explain to people that interface design is not an afterthought. It is part of a huge process — but it’s not a small part. That was the goal with Sketch.”
A lot has changed since then. Now, with over one million customers, Sketch has become the go-to for designers and teams around the world. So we thought we’d talk to some of the people who’ve been involved from our earliest days to find out how we got to where we are today.
The early days
“The first versions of Sketch were built highly collaboratively,“ says Pieter Omvlee, Sketch’s co-founder and CEO. ”At first it was just Emanuel and me on design and development, but the lines were always blurry; we collaborated heavily and never had one side dictate what the other should do. As we’ve grown the team I think we’ve managed to keep that spirit. People with different expertise should work together and contribute so that we get to the best result.”
The original Sketch release aimed to define standards across the design landscape. Ten years on, we’re still pushing boundaries.
As people began to pick up on this approach and started using the Mac app, a community began to form. And this is where the success of Sketch really started. “Don’t ask me how that happened, I have no clue,” laughs Emanuel. “People just really loved it. I think the price, the technology, the freedom — it allowed a lot more people to look at design as real career. The right tool was available on the right platform. And we were so lucky to have a lot of people who kept pumping in resources; icon sets, interface sets, plugins and more.”
“The community has played a monumental role in shaping the design space and the tools we all work with,” says Galya Iliev, who started her Sketch journey in that community, before joining the company in 2015. She’s now our Head of Partnership Marketing and Commercial Opportunities, working closely with the community every day. “Designers loved the native feel of an app made specifically for UI and UX design.” As creatives began to use it in their day-to-day work, they shared their designs and thoughts on social media. Tutorials appeared on YouTube and designers started meeting up to talk about Sketch in more detail. It was incredible to watch, and the team were blown away by the support.
“We were so lucky to have a lot of people who kept pumping in resources; icon sets, interface sets, plugins and more.”