From Photoshop to Adobe XD: Michael Wong’s Journey into Freelance Design

Michael Wong, a full-time freelance designer, fell in love with web design at a young age. As his skill set and experience broadened, though, so did his need for more advanced and adaptable tools. This is the story of Michael’s relationship with Photoshop, Adobe XD, and the freedom and fulfillment of a freelance lifestyle.


On His Entry into the World of Design

Once an aspiring Kung Fu master, Michael Wong quickly shifted his sights to a career in design. After his first exposure to the World Wide Web, his eyes were opened to the limitless opportunity and creativity offered by web design. The real decisive moment for him, though, was receiving a six-figure paycheck at age 17 for affiliate marketing work in the design space.

Michael recalls, “I joined a very active web development and internet marketing community, where I continued to learn the tricks of the trade. Entrepreneurs began reaching out to me to help them design and build their sites and I realized I had a newfound love for web design (oh, that term sounds so dated), so I pursued it as a strong passion of mine.” A few Australian startup successes and digital corporate partnerships later, Michael is now a full-time freelance designer.


On Photoshop and Adobe XD

For a significant part of Michael’s design career, he exclusively used Photoshop for all photo editing and UX/UI design work. However, in UX design, files can contain hundreds, or even thousands of layers and folders, which became problematic when solely using Photoshop. Michael says, “I jumped on the Adobe XD bandwagon right after the Adobe MAX event last year. The launch of Adobe XD is a dream come true. As a designer, I can make appropriate edits to the photo or stock image I’d like to use in Photoshop and seamlessly bring it over to Adobe XD to finish off the interface design.”

Michael’s favorite Photoshop features include the Clone Tool, which allows him to touch up stock imagery or perfect his shots, and Actions, which allow him to utilize photo filter actions created by himself and others to quickly apply and gauge a new look for an image.

On Adobe XD, Michael remarks, “While it’s currently still in BETA, it has already positioned itself as the end-to-end platform for UI and UX designers.” His favorite features include:

  • Repeat Grid, or “the holy grail of UI design”, as Michael calls it. The feature addresses a critical and time-consuming task for UI designers: instead of duplicating and adjusting spacing for repeated elements (like a list of profiles,) a quick drag of the bounding box does the work for you.
  • Prototype, which allows for a birds-eye view for simplicity and ease in Adobe XD. On top of the quick-linking, you also have the ability to play around with transitions, easing, and durations.


On Freelance Design


When asked about his decision to remain a freelance designer, Michael believes that freedom is what brings richness to his life and his work. While he has worked for companies on larger teams, he finds he always returns to freelance work. On the subject, he says, “Ultimately, I can do what I love, where and whenever I want. And I’m not only a designer, but also a marketer, business owner, accountant and the list goes on. You never stop learning!”

That being said, Michael also values the power of the design community, particularly online. He writes a weekly UX Design newsletter with over 6,000+ readers and is hoping to launch a UX & Freelance course this year in order to strengthen and give back to this community.

While Michael understands better than anyone how challenging it is to take the leap and commit to full-time freelance work, he advises “Never underestimate how much further you can get with just a bit of guidance.” His goal is to continually share all his experiences and knowledge with the design community to guide and support other designers who want to take the leap in hopes that they will find the freedom and fulfillment that he has in a life of freelance design.

When he isn’t busy freelancing, you can find Michael at the gym, swinging around on the bars. He also loves writing his weekly newsletter and road-tripping out of Sydney along the coast of Australia with his friends, his surfboard, and his GoPro.

For more on Adobe XD, or to download the beta and test-drive it yourself, visit

Also, check out more of Michael’s work here: Portfolio | Twitter | LinkedIn | Dribbble


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