In late March, I was sent a batch of design files ending in .fig — the file extension for Figma. As a graphic designer turned brand creative manager who was wedded to Adobe Creative Suite, I was scratching my head as to what do with these files. I was also a bit perturbed that someone would send me such odd file formats. I mean, isn’t there some sort of digital decorum we must all abide by when sharing files?
More than six months later and it’s abundantly clear that my confusion and vexation were misplaced and I’m a laggard.
Figma is perhaps now my favourite piece of software. Ever. And no, that’s not hyperbole. Figma is really that good.
But what exactly is Figma, why am I singing its praises and perhaps more importantly — why should you care?
To answer these questions, I’ve put together a short list of the joys and benefits of working with Figma.
It’s all about collaboration
Figma is not just for designers. Think of it as an open, and easily sharable platform where project managers, graphic designers, UX designers, marketers, website developers and even clients can meet and collaborate on design and prototyping projects in real-time. Anyone who edits or views a project is shown in the UI, with a live cursor indicating what they’re looking at or working on and has the ability to provide live feedback through in-built Slack functionality or on-screen mark-ups — something we at Kiandra put to good use on client and internal projects. As Tech Crunch put it “Figma wants to do for interface design what Google Docs did for text editing.”
Figma works on any platform and just about any computer
Gone are the days where designers need to rely on specced out Macbook Pros to get their work done. Figma works seamlessly on any machine that runs a web browser, be it a Mac, a Windows PC or a Chromebook. And, you can choose to run the browser version or download the desktop version — it’s up to you.
Better file management
As long as you’re online, your Figma file will automatically save. Gone are the days spending hours working on a design file only to have InDesign crash, taking with it all your hard work. Figma files all live in the one place — the cloud. This not only ensures your work will always be saved, it also helps avoid copy conflicts. You can even use version control to see who’s has made what changes and when and wind back the clock if you need to — pretty nifty.
It’s familiar but better
If you’re already skilled in common traditional digital design tools like Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator then chances are much of Figma will feel very familiar. In fact, it almost feels like a browser-based Photoshop, merged with the vector editing abilities of Illustrator, spliced with the layout and templating features of InDesign.
Alright, truth be told that there were originally going to be ‘Five reasons you should be using Figma’ but given there is a small caveat around this next one, it didn’t quite make the list. However, I’d be doing you a disservice to not mention that Figma is free. That’s right, it’s absolutely free. While this may only be for the starter pack you still get pretty good value with the ability to create three projects, unlimited free viewers and unlimited cloud storage.
If you’re finished reading this and you’re still not convinced, I’ll leave you with this… If you’re a creative professional or marketer that dabbles in traditional design software, Figma will fundamentally change your design process for the better — making life easier for not just you, but your colleagues and clients.
Don’t believe me? Why not try it for yourself and let me know how you go.