RECAP: Figma Africa Cape Town Roadshow

On May 26th, some of Cape Town’s most curious minds gathered at Woodstock Exchange MEST incubator to hear more about what it truly means to be a designer in modern times and also discuss more on what it takes to become a World-Class Designer in a time where users are so focused on the design of products, so many product options to choose from and there are so many new trends that it is difficult to keep up with as a web designer.

It was on this day that Figma Africa launched it’s Global Design Community in Cape Town with an intriguing and gorgeous audience of about 40 guests, a panel made up of 5 design influencers well-versed in their various careers and the Figma Africa Lead Designer Advocate Namnso Ukpanah.

Yup! Vuyo started off the event with some fire.

Vuyolwethu Dubese kicked off the meetup with a quick introduction to design and gave a brief preview into the Cape Town design scene as well as what the event participants should expect from the event before inviting Namnso Ukpanah to give his talk.

The Figma Africa Lead Designer Advocate, Namnso spoke on what it means to be a designer in 2018 using Design Education and the African Tech Ecosystem as a case study. He talked about how design roles are constantly evolving, how much it is going to change in the immediate near future and the many job descriptions designers have to constantly take on to perfect innovation.

Namnso placing some more emphasis on design education and making it accessible

He also spoke about why it is important for designers to balance the satisfaction of their users with business goals and how this will prompt companies to invest more in design. Namnso spoke on the effects caused by the lack of a clearly defined learning structure to help those aspiring to learn design get started and what Figma Africa is currently doing to address this in Africa through their Learn Design Program which teaches people how to design using a standardized, self-paced curriculum.

The Figma Learn Design Program

Namnso also touched on the various activities which the Figma Africa Community members engage in to help each other grow and advance their careers starting from the AMA sessions with Design leaders in various fields to the weekly design challenges which help them build their portfolios and connect with other designers.

A tweet from Rob — #FigmaCommunitySA trended in Cape Town

At the end of the talk, he took some questions from the audience before kicking off a round of Kahoot game in which the guests were more than eager to take part in. The Kahoot game was made up of 10 design-related questions and it was so much fun seeing the near misses and the joyful cheers of realizing who got the questions right. At the end of the game, the winners won some extra Figma swag for themselves.

Oh! and we didn’t just talk about perfect pixels alone but had fun too

Next up, Vuyolwethu introduced Evans Manyonga, Co-Founder, and COO at Reignmakers was the anchor of the panel session and being well articulated, kept the conversations flowing at an interactive and engaging pace. The panel session started off with self-introduction of the panelists — Nicole Bergstedt who is a Senior UX Designer at Thomson Reuters in Cape Town, Najma Toefy a Creative Communications Specialist who works with PwC, Marwaan Sasman Founder & Creative Director at Pigeon Pie, Dane Perring, a UX Designer with 99c and the ever amazing Mark McChlery who is the CEO at Passmarked.

The Panel Session presented a very enlightening discussion on what it takes to become a world-class designer

The conversation was centered around the journey to becoming a designer, based on the design experiences of the panelists, their understanding of design from the challenges they have encountered and their everyday career lives. Nicole started off by saying her design career started taking form when she realized web design isn’t art and how much of an eye opener it was for her.

Najma said “at some point in her life she started being concerned with the design of everyday things than what they were actually meant for, starting from restaurant menus to everything that she thought could be designed differently”
Nicole and Marwaan discussing what influences their design decisions

On what motivates them as designers Mark said that he likes to see how things work by breaking them down. He likes to see how things can be brought together to create something meaningful and new and that from his perspective everything is by design.

Dane was of an independent opinion and said “On my motivation for design I’d say is that I thrive off other quality designers in the world. If you follow websites that win awards, for instance, it keeps you motivated. The psychological side of users motivates you. I focus on UX.”
Figma Global Design Community Cape Town Panelists

The panelists also stated that Designers need to start thinking in a much broader sense as problem solvers more than just making visual things. The most valuable designers are the ones that understand people, political/social issues and how to make a social impact. They also discussed on which conventional design rules or trends they have had to abandon out of personal preference, Marwaan said he’s always hated Comic Sans fonts and never used them even when they were everywhere especially since he sees design as a strategic and problem-solving pursuit.

Evans who anchored the panel discussion also involved the audience by taking questions from them, which were directed at the panelists. The questions were rotated around the panelists and whoever was with the mic had to answer the question which made it even more fun and the audience could also contribute to answers or explain the questions, the panel quickly became pretty engaging.

Thabang and Johann from the audience with questions for the panelists.

After the panel discussions, another game of Kahoot was played and almost like the audience was anticipating the next round as they went all out to get the right questions especially those that didn’t win the first one like Vuyolwethu who commandeered the kahoot game round wanted to come out as winners. After the game, the winners were presented with some more Figma swag (Figmarized).

The second round of the Kahoot game with everybody trying to win

The design session happened next and was a live demo of Figma. This was handled by Namnso who started off by creating a Figma file, sharing the file link and getting the audience to join in so as to demonstrate it’s collaborative feature which they did.

He then started showcasing its features, explaining how they can be used in different scenarios while highlighting the many ways which Figma actually helps improve the workflow of its users. From clearly defined dimensions of some of the most popular screen sizes to how components make it easy to reuse UI assets, how concised it’s vector tools are and how users can comment on designs and get real-time notifications in projects.

And there was swag for all too.

After the design session, the event quickly came to an end with Vuyolwethu thanking everyone for making out time to attend the event despite possibilities of it messing with their weekend plans. After the event, there was snacks and drinks to go round along with some more Figma swag.


If you have ever attended any of our Figma Meetups and got to experience or learnt something insightful or wonderful or simply just feel like sharing your experience? Please do write about it or send us a DM on twitter or Slack, let’s share our experiences and motivate others. Yay!!!!!

You can join us on Slack at https://figma-africa.slack.com, follow us on twitter at https://twitter.com/figma_africa