Every couple of months new tools or software come out to aid, improve or completely replace your current suite. I often feel like with new plugins and add ons it’s hard enough to stay up to date with your current tools, let alone completely shift. I know I am not the only one that feels a slight procrastination when it comes to shaking things up and completely changing your toolset and workflow. Figma, however, had me convinced within a couple of hours. Here’s why…
One to rule them all
At NONA we have been long-time users of Invision even before we moved to Sketch. Editing .jpegs or .pngs, saving them out and uploading them to Invision. This workflow was pretty tedious — we were wasting a lot of time exporting and uploading designs every time we were off by a pixel.
This improved slightly with Sketch — first being able to upload your designs to Invision through the craft plugin and eventually being able to wire up prototypes inside Sketch as opposed to once you had uploaded to Invision.
But this still left a big margin for error, because designs needed to be manually uploaded to Invision prototypes which often didn’t reflect the working file. This became even more difficult when collaborating with multiple project managers, product owners, development teams and stakeholders.
So the first thing that caught my eye was that you could design, prototype and present interactive prototypes all from one platform, and in doing so all prototypes were always up to date and represented the working file. This also meant we could drop Sketch and Invision for the significantly cheaper Figma.
With Figma being a cloud-based application you can simply log on anywhere, on any device and start editing your design files. Backups and storage are no longer a thing, because Figma gives you unlimited projects and cloud storage.
The fact that Figma is cloud-based has also resulted in it being a helluva lot faster than Sketch. Jumping between pages and files is seamless even on a Mid-2015 Macbook pro. Combine that with the notoriously slow Invision for both clients and designers, and the comparison is night and day.
Figma has been a game-changer in terms of collaboration for our team. With Figma you can give access to a working file to anyone who has signed up and has an account. Now designers, developers, product owners, managers and clients can all access the current, up to date, single source of the truth design file.
You can have multiple people accessing and working on the same file with various permissions. This means there is complete transparency throughout the design process; clients and teammates can check-in, comment, or watch progress live.
Another great feature Figma just seems to have solved in its stride is version control. Along with auto-saving functionality, Figma allows you to roll back your design to any unlimited auto-save of your design file.
Figma has been especially great in working with our remote teams. Tapping on a user’s icon at the top right of the screen allows you to follow their movements and makes presenting and showing people around a design file a breeze.
Because everyone in an organization can access open design files now, design resources, such as prototyping systems or templates can now be available to everyone in the company. Now small text or colour changes don’t have to go onto the bottom of a backlog to the designers. Simple copy changes or adjustments can be made by anyone requiring them.
Is it there yet?
A lot of the hesitation I initially had around moving to Figma was around available plugins, support, resources and integration. While Figma doesn’t have all the available plugins Sketch does it is catching up fairly rapidly. Resources and support are now readily available everywhere you look and are very much on a par with Photoshop and Sketch.
Overall the entire team is enjoying and benefiting from our move to Figma. Workflow is faster and more accessible, channels for collaboration have increased, and there is total transparency.