Figma — Should I Be Using It?

Figma is the solution to a common problem faced by designers. A common problem for those who have a passion for graphic design, art, and tools to make their lives easier is not finding the right interface for them. Amongst the many options, it is difficult to determine which one may be the right fit for you and all your designing needs.

Designers work for hours each day in typically painstaking and tedious ways in order to create new worlds. Things like drawing shapes, incorporating UI elements, and creating specific styles are the repetitive, annoying actions they must do to complete a project.

Whether it be for a small doodle or a long-term project, it is important to choose the right program to accommodate all your needs. Luckily, Figma is a design tool that many have embraced with open arms.

What is Figma?

Figma is a graphics web-based app that many consider revolutionary. It is slowly taking over the design world and for good reason. You have the ability to use it for all kinds of graphic design work whether that is wireframing websites, prototyping designs, designing mobile app interfaces, crafting social media posts, and more.

There is a clear distinction between Figma and other graphics editing tools. This main difference derives from where you access the app. Figma works directly on whatever browser you are using, which means that you get to access all your projects from any computer or platform. This allows you to start designing from anywhere without being forced to purchase multiple licenses or install different software.

One of the most attractive things about this new design app is that it is free! The free plan that Figma offers provides the ability to create and store up to three active projects at a time. A generous free plan like this one gives you the opportunity to experiment, learn, and work on smaller projects.

A few tools that Figma offers are vector tools that are capable of full-fledged illustration, code generation for hand-off, and prototyping capabilities. There is also an “always online” feature that brings forth the opportunity for real-time collaboration at all times. Since Figma runs online, all progress is saved online.

If you want to enter the realms of User Interface Design or User Experience Design, Figma is a great learning tool to use. Tools to hone skills that Figma provides and encourages are essential when you are trying to build a notable portfolio or prepare yourself for your own company’s demands.

There are a multitude of features that Figma provides for its users. These features may be familiar for experienced designers, but there are a few that have never been seen before in the design world.

Figma Features

Whether you are searching for a modern pen tool or flexible styles, Figma can provide exactly what you are looking for. It is the only platform that combines popular design features with a more efficient workflow to maximize your projects.

Firstly, there are a few exclusive features that only Figma provides for its users. With its more than modern pen tool, you are able to draw in any direction using Vector Networks. Long gone are the days of merging or having to connect to a path’s original point.

Figma also provides instant arc designs where you can dabble in designing clocks, pie charts, watch screens, and more. The Arc tool is a fan favorite along with OpenType. OpenType is a feature that allows you to utilize advanced font features that fully and effectively express your brand.

Designers who despise having to move things around will greatly appreciate the Auto Layout feature. It gives them the ability to minimize the need to manually resize their designs. Buttons resize with their particular text and lists rearrange themselves every time items are moved around.

Auto Layout components can also stretch in every direction for a responsive design. On top of all of these things, all of Auto Layout’s padding, spacing settings, and direction translate directly to code.

Repetition causes headaches, which is why Figma has the ability to automate and augment your projects with plugins. There are plugins for everything, which include flow diagrams, stock imagery, charts, icons, color accessibility, and more.

Not only is it easy to build a plugin for yourself, but Figma also allows organization customers to create and distribute private plugins in their company. Figma believes that if you have the ability to build a website, you should also be able to build a plugin.

Figma guarantees efficiency, consistency, and both at the same time. Everything involving your design system is accessible through the cloud. You are also able to create consistent, flexible styles to apply them to any object or text across any one of your projects. Edit and override are also available at your fingertips with Figma, providing all necessary information at your disposal.

Another feature of Figma is that you can invite as many teammates as you desire to view and comment on your projects. Any viewer is able to grab snippets of the code that is generated for iOS, Android, and CSS. Also, you guessed it, exporting the assets you need and in any format you need them in is easy too!

Pros and Cons

Figma’s features include innovation and creativity, which are two things that can cause a stir of opinion amongst the masses. It is important to consider every side of the app before proceeding in order to make the best decision possible for you and your business.

Real-time collaboration on Figma is one of the more beloved features of the app. The ability for a team to edit one design file together and at the same time is a plus. Many tedious hours are saved by this. A con to this feature, though, is that you must almost always be online to work this way.

Another pro is that Figma is considered an all-in-one tool when it comes to design, prototyping, and hand-offs to software developers. It is almost as if you have access to a bunch of great apps for your designing when, in reality, all of it is just focused in one place. That is the beauty of Figma.

Because Figma is cloud-based, you have the ability to open your files on different computers without having to download or copy the file manually. Since it can be operated on all major operating systems such as Mac OS, Windows, and other browsers, you have access to the app anytime and anywhere. The only catch is that there needs to be internet available to work on Figma.

One of the top nail-biters when it comes to downloading a new software is the pricing. Sometimes, if it is expensive enough, it can turn users off the app completely. This is why Figma ensured that there was a free plan starting off. If you want to upgrade, price tags begin making their appearance, but, otherwise, Figma is virtually free.

A con to the web-based app is that it requires 4GB of RAM and something similar to an Intel HD 3000 Graphic Card to work. A graphic designer probably has all the necessary precursors, but these things are difficult to acquire if you are a beginner or non-design person. When it comes to business people stepping foot into this world, they would most likely run into this issue.

One of the biggest pros of Figma is the endless plugins. A few fan favorites include Content Reel, Iconify, Unsplash, Component Replacer, Paste to Fill, Blobs Maker, and Remove BG. It is safe to say that Figma excels in the plugin department.

To self-check, Figma provides an app to assist the designer. This is so you can analyze how the design appears and interacts correctly on a phone. This app is called Figma Mirror. Unfortunately, you are not able to share a Figma link and expect it to open on Figma Mirror if you want another person to check your work. This is because it is necessary that you interact with both your computer and the smartphone.

How to Use Figma

Before diving into using the web-based app, it is important to establish how to use every available feature. Below is a comprehensive guide to getting started on the app and identifying all the features.

1.Sign Up!

To get started in Figma, all you have to do is go to www.figma.com. Click “Sign up” and put in your details. From here, Figma will open, and your screen will look like this. Click “New File” to get started.

To navigate to the menu, you can click the hamburger button in the top-left of your screen. Here, you can browse just to see what all is included on this page. If you want to use a specific command, you can also just search it.

Tools is where you can quickly access the tools that you most often use such as shapes, text, frames, etc.

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Options is the area that shows extra options for the tools you have selected.

Layers is where you create and review every piece of your work, which are organized into Frames and Groups.

Inspector shows contextual settings and information for the object that is selected.

2.Design

With designing, you are free to set up artboards, organize grid and layout columns, access layers and groups, and use vectors, shapes, and images.

3.Styles

Styles is where you can change colors, text, and the effects applied to different objects. You also have the ability to reimagine the appearance and form of pattern grids.

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4.Components

Components refers to the elements that you can reuse across each of your designs. They add consistency across projects as well as allow for easy scaling and updating when necessary.

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The two aspects of Components are the main component, which defines the different properties of the component, and a copy of the components that you can reuse called Instances.

5.Auto Layout

Auto Layout provides multiple properties and features that allow you to add, edit, and create to your heart’s desire. Here, you have the ability to change direction, spacing, padding, alignment, distribution, and sizing.

Some of the main ways people utilize Auto Layout is to create buttons that can grow or shrink as you edit their text label, combine different frames into complete interfaces, and build lists that adapt to items being added, hidden, or removed.

6.Prototyping

Prototyping in Figma allows for interactive flows that create connections, create interactions and animations, and adjust the prototype. Prototypes are a great way to test interactions with users, share and iterate on ideas, preview interactions and user flows, get feedback from collaborators, and present your designs to stakeholders.

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7.Sharing and collaborating

Every single file and prototype on the app has a unique link that members of an organization have access to copy, edit, and share with other organization members. Based on the file’s sharing permissions, members can interact and collaborate on a file.

To invite people, all you have to do is click on the blue Share button, which should lead you to a list of people that have access to it already. From there, you can type in the email address of the person with whom you wish to share the file, creating easy and seamless collaboration.

Figma License Cost

The pricing of Figma ranges depending on exactly what you are hoping to get out of the web-based app. To start off, it is completely free. The free plan lasts forever and includes three Figma and three FigJam files, unlimited collaborators, unlimited personal files, and multiple plugins and templates. This is perfect for beginners and those who want to just get their feet wet with the web-based app.

Figma Professional is the next available package. You have to pay $12 per editor/month and are billed annually, which means $15 month-to-month. With this package, you have unlimited files and projects, team libraries, audio conversations, sharing permissions, private projects, and unlimited version history. This is typically used by students and educators.

Lastly, Figma Organization requires annual billing only at $45 per editor/month. This package is used by organizations, companies, and teams of designers. You get everything included in the professional package as well as organization-wide libraries, centralized content management, private plugins, SSO + advanced security, design system analytics, branching and merging, unified admin and billing, and auto-provisioning via SCIM.

Depending on what you are looking for and for whom, each package provides an opportunity to make your job easier and more enjoyable. The features included in Figma are unique to the app, which is why so many people are rushing to download their preferred package.

Figma vs Adobe XD

Just like Samsung vs. Apple is a war that’s been going on for ages, in the design world, it’s Figma vs Adobe XD. Adobe XD is oftentimes considered the main competitor to Figma, a newer, fresher version of the app. One of the most noticeable differences between the two apps is the collaboration tools. People have claimed that, when using both platforms, there is a fairly significant difference between the two.

Similar to the pros list, there are a few things that Figma provides that Adobe XD is hurriedly trying to catch up to. For one, if you use Figma, your files and projects are always saved to the cloud. This means that anyone who is invited to do so can view, edit, and collaborate on the file. With Adobe XD, you can only create files either offline or online and not interchangeably. You can imagine the inconvenience of this.

The collaboration feature on Adobe XD does not fit the standard that Figma does. If two people are working on a file simultaneously, each time that one person saves it, the other user is prompted to sync. This entails that the second user’s work may get lost at that point.

The fragmentation of Adobe XD’s features is also a well-known issue in the community. Design, commenting, and sharing all occur in different places, which is not as efficient as the one-stop Figma interface.

Unlike Figma, Adobe XD does not provide a contextual menu to include colors and character styles easily. In this way, XD is also lacking in the color and character style department. There is not a wide variety of options and the ability to customize your work like with Figma.

There are multiple keyboard shortcuts that Adobe XD does not have and Figma excels in. This allows for more efficient, faster work to be done. Adjusting dimensions is also a feature that XD does not take the cake in. You have to do the action completely manually, which is different from the Alt + or middle mouse button features that Figma provides.

Users of both have also complained of the lack of screen space of Adobe XD compared to Figma along with the inability to use animated GIFs in projects. Each of these small but significant features places Figma way ahead of the curve when it comes to the best design apps.

Figma is a great way to explore your talents and experiment with a new, reliable interface that can provide you with the best possible tools. The process is not a lengthy one, and you get all your needs met at a reasonable price. Figma is undeniably a useful and valuable tool for any graphic designer.

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