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Why Limit the Tool of Design?

I bet you’re all familiar with some of the things like — “It’s the company standard to use tool X for design.” So standard that it becomes the last gate to decide whether a designer candidate could ever make it there to work with the other stellar people in the company. “I’m sorry, it’s the standard here. We have decided to use it because the engineers think it’s easiest to collaborate with it.” Okay, I’d say it out loud — Adobe Photoshop.

It baffles me that in this age of problem-solving, we are still limited by tools. I understand where it comes from, though: workflow. People want stress-free workflow, so they make a consensus together. What tools are easiest to work with with everyone. However, this alienates good candidates. In my past experience giving job interviews, I ask what tools the candidates use to design, but I never specifically say they must use one tool or another to succeed in this company. I focus, instead, on their problem-solving skills. Their actual design skills. You know, the skills that really give value.

I also understand that Adobe Photoshop is the standard of the industry — but to be honest, it’s not the best. It’s made for digital imaging. Photo retouching. Image enhancements. It’s not made for user interface design, it’s not made for product design. It’s not even made for agile process. It’s cumbersome, slow and nerve-wracking. Every single thing needs a plugin. It’s a duct-tape kind of design tool.

Now, I understand if Photoshop is really the best — I’d die learning for it, and I’d die learning to use it just to land that dream job of mine. But no. It’s hard for me to learn something that is actually not something I believe in, and that more and more people are not believing in anymore.

It’s also a shame that a company would force its designers to use a failing (albeit not dying) tool.

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