Collaborating in Figma with my clients

Ben Issenmann
Sep 5 · 2 min read

Who needs emails, slacks or dropboxes when you can collaborate with clients right from Figma? Right? Forget sharing files, emails, links. Clients, (digitally) next to you, while you design! A dream! A beautiful dream!! 🙏

Hold on.

In my experience, there are a few reasons why only relying on Figma to collaborate does NOT work:

  • Communication: Figma’s commenting system is prone to simple chit-chat, not great for deeper thinking about design as a whole, and thus not sufficient by itself. Nothing beats a good video call or a thorough e-mail (yet).
  • Payment: Sending estimates, quotes or invoices also requires external tools.
  • File-sharing: Receiving files from clients (input) and sending finished designs (output)
  • Meta: Last reason, at least that I can think of, is that Figma destroys the notion of “feedback” rounds that is so dear to clients. When to say stop when your client is watching you design live? Do you count each comment as a revision request? Limits become increasingly hard to set, and that’s not a good thing for us designers.

As it is today, sharing a figma link with a client feels a bit of a suicide mission. In the future, I hope this will all be integrated in one tool. A tool where designers can spend all their time on what they love doing: design. Maybe this tool is Figma, maybe it’s something else. But the current mental models we have are not yet adjusted to instant and transparent collaboration that Figma brings.

This idea keeps me up at night. I’m trying to build something that builds on top of Figma’s paradigm shift, that would serve the best interests of both designers and clients. Simplicity yay! Transparency, yay! Productivity, yay! The current form of my solution is A bunch of figma plugins and slack bots all glued together in a nice interface. Check it out or not, I don’t care. I will not stop working on a solution as long as I don’t find or make one. If it takes 10 years, so be it.

Lol no, let’s not wait 10 years. Just tell me, fellow designer:

  • have you tried onboarding clients on Figma? Or do you restrain yourself from it?
  • What other tools do you use that complement your workflow? The new plugins by any chance?
  • Have your clients experienced “tools overload” and complained about it too?
  • Do you even care?

I hope I can open this to a calm, respectful and interesting conversation 😊

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