Yes Sur: Behind the scenes of Sketch’s macOS makeover

Today, we’re excited to share some details of our Big Sur update. Refreshing our UI for Apple’s latest OS has taken countless hours of hard work, tough decisions and careful revisions from dozens of people across the Sketch team. We want to say a big thank you to them all — we’re incredibly proud of the work they’ve done.

To get the lowdown on how the team created Sketch’s beautiful new interface — and to show off some of our favorite details — we sat down to chat with our Design Director Marcelo Marfil.

So what’s new?

“Early on, we had a single goal in mind. We wanted to make sure Sketch on Big Sur still put your designs front and center so they could shine,” Marcelo explains. “The last thing we wanted was for the interface to get in the way.” With that in mind, the team focused on tweaking and refining the existing interface rather than a complete overhaul. They wanted the app to feel familiar after your Big Sur upgrade, so you could instantly get back into your designs. “In essence, it continues to be the same Sketch people know and love,” he says. This is an evolution, not a revolution.

That said, the team did take the opportunity to push things a little further in a few key areas. “Adopting new OS standards like a full-height sidebar and toolbar already make a huge difference, but we couldn’t stop there,” says Marcelo.

Yes Sur

“As with anything new, there’s an inevitable learning curve you have to work through,” he continues. After taking some time to use the betas and understand the new paradigms, the team started exploring how they could make sure our native app still felt ‘at home’ on Mac — while continuing to support people that want to stick with macOS Catalina (or even earlier OSs).

It started with the toolbar. While aligning with Apple’s new design, which adds the document title inline with other toolbar items, they reorganized the default toolbar with the tools they think you’ll use the most. There’s even a new Notifications icon in the top-right corner of the window which gathers your notifications together, making them easy to manage. Don’t worry — you can still customize it with your own favorite tools with a Ctrl-click. You’ll also notice the toolbar (and the rest of the app) features some gorgeous new icons. More on them later.

With Big Sur moving the document title into the toolbar, it was the perfect opportunity for the team to redesign it — with all new icons.

Next, the team turned their attention to the Inspector. “Even though our app’s user interface feels at home on macOS, we rely a lot on custom controls and materials,” Marcelo explains. “It always comes down to whether we think we can give our customers a better experience.” Like the rest of the Mac app, the new Inspector will feel familiar, but every element has been painstakingly reworked to be as beautiful as it is functional.

The Inspector has been given a makeover, too — with the new orange highlight color taking centre stage.

You’ll also notice that the accent color across the app has changed — it’s now orange, to match our brand colors across the Sketch platform. Of

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