Sketch interview: Sagi Shrieber from HackingUI

Photo of Christian Krammer

by Christian Krammer on

For our next round of interviews about people who have integrated Sketch into their daily workflow we are joined by Sagi Shrieber. Sagi is one half of the popular website HackingUI, which is an interaction design and front end development magazine. He is also the Head of Product Design at SimilarWeb and a UX Mentor at Google Campus.


Portrait photo of Sagi Shrieber

sketchtips.info: Please introduce yourself and how it came about that you started HackingUI?
Sagi Shrieber: Well, In 2011 I opened a local Israeli design blog called Pixel Perfect Magazine. I started small and with no expectations, but I really wanted to push forward the awareness to worldwide UI trends and UX patterns here in Israel.
Besides publishing articles in the blog, I also launched the blog’s weekly newsletter in which I shared the articles that I’ve been reading each week plus resources and tools I came across. The blog soon became very popular and I was getting amazing emails from people who benefited from the newsletter and magazine. That was the point in which I realized that I had something that can work on a larger scale.

The second part to the birth of HackingUI is my partner David. In mid 2012 I joined a small startup called Moolta as a co-founder. One day David dropped by our office to visit his friend – our marketing intern at the time – and had to wait for him to finish up some work. He opened his laptop and I couldn’t help but noticing an open Sublime Text window on his mac. The rest is history.

About a year and a Beta later, we got accepted to Upwest Labs – a startup accelerator in Palo Alto.

On our way to Palo Alto, as Moolta
On our way to Palo Alto, as Moolta.

We all flew out there and it was very exciting. About a week into the accelerator we came up with a new startup idea, and after a week of concept validation we decided to change our product entirely.

We named our new product Tapdog, and it was eventually acquired by SimilarWeb in early 2014.

The tapdog website
The Tapdog team – David, Ohad, Alon, Noam and myself
The Tapdog team – David Ohad, Alon, Noam and myself.

When we were in San Fran, we all felt a strong connection to the design community, and when we came back to Israel we felt the need to keep in touch with that community. So a couple weeks before we signed in SimilarWeb, David and I decided it was time to launch a design and front end magazine.

The naming part was hard. :) We first decided on the name “Round Pixel Magazine” (actually bought the domain roundpixel.com and roundpixelmag.com), and then when we weren’t happy with that we went back to the drawing board and a few days later came up with HackingUI.

How does Sketch fit into your work at Hacking UI?
I use Sketch for my everyday work at SimilarWeb. But in HackingUI, I also use Sketch to create the featured images for each post using one file with one page and multiple artbords. It’s so easy to upload the image, then to the wp admin by grabbing the artboard with the mouse, cmd + tab to switch to Chrome, and dropping the image into the post page (I use the wp plugin faster-image-insert that allows you to drag and drop images to a box right below the wysiwyg).

I also used Sketch to design and iterate on the designs of HackingUI. It’s easy for me to see the pages of the site artboard next to an artboard.

HUI Design Sketch File
HUI Design Sketch File.

Since it’s likely that you used Photoshop before, why did you change to Sketch?
When Sketch 3 came out, I read some Sketch articles by Meng To and watched a couple of Sketchcasts by Rafael Conde, and then decided to give it a go. I had 14 days trial so I really wanted to give it a good shot and decide if its relevant or not for me. The result is known. But I also think that I had a need to use a different tool than photoshop for UI design and the fact that Sketch was made just for that really struck me as intriguing to try and use it.

I wrote all about this and the pros and cons of the transitioning to Sketch from PS as a main design tool.

How & why I moved to Sketch
How & why I moved to Sketch.

Do you use Sketch for everything related to design or are still Adobe apps involved?
Sketch does not come instead of Photoshop, InDesign and sometimes even Illustrator. At the beginning I hoped a bit that it would. But with time I came to understand that its just another great tool in my design toolbox. I use Sketch for UI design, Photoshop for presentation designs (of my Sketch designs), animations and photo editing, InDesign for print materials, After Effects for some animations, and Illustrator sometimes for logo work.

Which other tools do you use?

  • One tool I can’t see my life without is Alfred. I created a ton of great workflow scripts that really sped up my work and made it more enjoyable.
  • TextExpander is also something I can’t live without. I have all sorts of shortcuts including full emails.
  • I use PHPStorm for coding (it’s just super robust, although I really love Brackets by Adobe).
  • I use Yoink which is a great app: Super useful for dragging images around from Sketch or web pages or your mac into one another.
  • I use a lot of Chrome extensions which I also wrote about.
  • Recently tried Boom which is amazing for boosting up music and sound in my mac.
  • Licecap for animated GIFs.
  • Recordit for recording some stuff to quickly explain something to people and send them the link via IM or mail.
  • InVision to manage all of my designs and create rough-prototypes to get a feel of flows I design.
  • Fantastical 2 on my iPhone.
TextExpander at work
TextExpander at work.

These are just some stuff I enjoy using in my everyday life.

What is your favorite part of Sketch?
I think the Artboards and Pages. But also some of the small stuff that make the magic of Sketch like the color picker/magnifying glass. So simple yet amazingly useful!

Color Picker in Sketch
Color Picker in Sketch.

Where does Sketch excel, and where does it totally fail?
It excels in so many things, but we went through that already. Lets talk about where Sketch fails. Sketch fails mostly in their bugs. There are some performance bugs that are so annoying, and were not fixed since the first Sketch 3 version, so it’s disappointing to not have them fixed. On the other hand it still feels that it performs faster than Photoshop.

The other problem (in which I know the Bohemian Coding team are making an effort to solve in 2015) is collaborative work. As I wrote before, one of the best features in Sketch are Artboards and Pages. The ability to keep a large project in one file. In Sketch there is no way to have 2 or more people work on the same Sketch file and it’s a big issue. Now we’re forced to split Sketch files for our project, but unlike Photoshop – that has the synced Smart Objects feature – Sketch lacks the syncing of symbols between documents. I really hope this issue will be adressed because it makes it super hard to work with Sketch in a team.

Are you satisfied with the release cycle of Sketch?
As I wrote before – not really. But it’s not just their problem. It’s all of our problems in startups these days. The mentallity of Lean/agile development has gone too far imo. A couple years ago products used to ship full, and when a release was out, if it had bugs it would really be unacceptable. But these days every possible startup wants to ship fast, and for good reasons, but that ruins our own lives a lot of the times. So Sketch did kind of the same thing. They released Sketch 3 for $79, but it was full with bugs. Then the bugs never got solved so on one hand we got an amazing product, but on the other hand there seems to be a legitimacy on their side not to fix all of the bugs. Instead priorities go to the future of product development and new features. I can’t blame them. The human nature is one which tends not to look back. But it’s a problem the we all feel these days as consumers and even designers in our own companies.

If there was one thing you could immediately change in Sketch, what would it be?
Fix the rendering bugs (and cmd + Z functionality while at it).


Thank you Sagi for the worthwhile and lengthy interview. We really enjoyed it. Sagi can be found on Twitter, Dribbble, LinkedIn, and of course read his stuff on HackingUI.com.

Recently we also interviewed Rafael Conde from sketchcasts.net about everything Sketch.

oOo