Get Started — Figma & Sketch For UI design

This second part focuses on how to start doing UI design and prototyping inside Figma and Sketch

Alex
Alex
Feb 24 · 9 min read
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Starting off

Before we get into anything specific, I highly suggest looking at Figma’s (or Sketch’s) keyboard shortcuts and trying to remember some of them. It will speed up your workflow a lot.

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You can access this by hitting Ctrl+Shift+? inside Figma or by clicking on the hamburger menu on the top left of your screen, then ‘’Help and account’’, and finally ‘’Keyboard Shortcuts’’.
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Frame tool in Figma
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The different frame size choices in Figma

The Grid

So, say you already have a couple of websites or interface designs you found for inspiration (I recommend having a minimum of 3 or 4 different sources of inspiration, otherwise chances are you are gonna end up with something that looks a little bit too much like one of the images you took for inspiration). What I personally do before I start putting things inside that frame is to set a grid. To do this, you can select your frame (click on the frame name), then go over to the design panel on the right and click the + next to Layout Grid. From there you’re gonna have a couple of options. What I like to use is columns. I don’t use the grid or rows. I recommend using 12 columns for desktop as 12 is easily dividable and thus will give you good flexibility for your layout. You should use the columns to align your elements like images, text, buttons, etc.

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This does not show the column settings I normally use. They’re just what Figma defaults to. See below for column settings I use.
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With Figma, I personally like to work with a grid of 12 columns with a margin of 120px on each side and a gutter of 16px between each column

Wireframing or low-fidelity mockups

After that, I like to create some sort of quick ‘’wireframe’’ to get a sense of where I should put every element I need. I simply do this with rectangles (hotkey for a rectangle is ‘’R’’). I won’t add any color yet. This step is just to set the base for the layout, if you will.

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A wireframe or low fidelity mockup using the 12 columns grid

Quick tip

In Figma, what I like to do particularly with buttons is use the Auto Layout feature in Figma (sketch has something similar with symbols). To do this, create a rectangle and add text on top of it. Select both the text and rectangle layer, then go over to the design panel on the right side and click the + next to Auto Layout. What this will do is resize the rectangle depending on the text or elements you put inside of that rectangle. This way, you keep consistent padding in your buttons very easily throughout your design. You can use this trick with other things too, such as paragraphs, cards, etc.

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Another quick tip

If you have an element that is going to repeat several times in the same page or over multiple pages, you can create a component (or symbol, in Sketch) for it. This will allow you to change all of the instances of that component while only having to edit the master component.

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Master component at the bottom, instance of that same component above.

Making things pretty(er)

Now we can start making things prettier. We can add colors, images, textures, etc. For stock images, I recommend looking at Unsplash or Pexels. They have a vast library of high quality images that are completely free for personal and commercial use.

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Adding a dark filter over an image will improve contrast with the text on top of it

More on buttons

Ideally, you want to make your buttons big enough to be seen, but not too big that it’s the only thing you see. A good standard is to use 14px or 16px sized text inside the button, and then have between 24px and 36px of padding on each side, and around 16px of padding above and underneath the text. If your button was made using auto-layout, you can quickly change the padding inside the button in the design panel on the right, in the auto-layout section.

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Rounding the corners of a button in Figma

End result

Before you consider your design finished, you need to make sure there’s good flow between each section and that there’s enough white space. I personally like to keep a distance of between 108 pixels and 180 pixels between each section of a page. I will also generally leave more white space on a dark background than on a light background.
You should also make sure that padding is consistent throughout your page. In my example, I used a space of 32 pixels between each title and body text. I also made sure that all of my titles and body text had the same font size, weight and line height.
Generally, 150% line height is good enough for body text. Too little or too much and it will be hard to read. In Figma you can simply put 150% in the line height field in the text settings in the design panel on the right.
I also turned down the opacity of the body text slightly. I generally like to keep my body text at around 75% opacity black. This usually helps with hierarchy, along with font size and weight.

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Thanks for reading!

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The Spot

We are a network that strive to offer younger creatives a…

Alex

Written by

Alex

UI / Visual Designer, digital artist & hobby guitarist

The Spot

The Spot

We are a network that strive to offer younger creatives a way to learn, get instant feedback and create contacts and a network.

Alex

Written by

Alex

UI / Visual Designer, digital artist & hobby guitarist

The Spot

The Spot

We are a network that strive to offer younger creatives a way to learn, get instant feedback and create contacts and a network.

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