May 27, 2020
Until last year, I was a loyal Adobe software user. First with Photoshop, a long time ago, and Adobe Xd over the last few years. I never really used Sketch, apart from small personal tests.
Why did I switch to Figma?
I started to try Figma 3 years ago for a personal project and I carried on using it sometimes on small projects. A few months ago, I had to use it with a client for the first time. I didn’t have to, but the client already used Figma and I took this opportunity to improve my knowledge on this tool.
For small projects, I couldn't tell the real difference between Xd and Figma. Their basic tools and philosophy remain the same. Yet when I joined the design system team at Accor Hotel a few months ago, I was a bit confused due to the totally different organisation and powerful collaboration tools. It came as a small revelation for me. Figma clearly stands out when it comes to collaborating within a large team.
Figma’s great strength is being able to collaborate in real-time and directly within the design files. Several designers can work on wireframes at the same time, and you can edit a google doc. Really handy for brainstorming and carrying out team reviews. I saw more recently than Xd implemented the same feature, but I don’t know if it’s as powerful.
You can also leave comments and tag members from your team, so no longer need to export and push designs on another tool. No need to worry about team members who are not designers, because Figma offers free access to viewer accounts. You can add all your developers and product owners for free. Real-time feedback without wasting time!
2. No file sharing and storage
Figma is a cloud-based tool. No more file sharing or endlessly renaming finale versions, or using Abstract. Yay! Because of that, Figma is accessible via your browser, and that’s another argument if within your team you are using different operating systems.
3. Design system spirit
If you are a design system addict, you probably often read Figma’s posts or documentation. They built a quality community around their design system spirit. They created the designsystems.com website where you can find different publications and good practices about design systems.
Concerning the features inside the tool, you can more or less find the same flexibility as Xd in terms of master and instance components, styles, auto-layout, etc. Unfortunately, Figma doesn’t have the powerful repeat-grid feature, like Xd does.
Figma provides a flexible organisation by team and project. You can create several teams inside an organisation, and create as many projects as you want (when you are using the paid version).
Making links inside Figma is a bonus. You can add references between your pages and projects, or even external guidelines.
5. All in one place
Like Xd, you can create prototypes directly inside the tool. This is a huge benefit, and the main reason why I’m sticking Xd. Figma also has the handoff feature, therefore you have everything you need within the same tool.
I know what you are saying, you think I’m totally devoted to Figma, and the idea is justified. However, there are also some frustrations, here is some personal feedback about that:
The search feature is maybe the most frustrating when you are looking for a specific component or wireframe amidst a large project.
Figma includes pages and frames to components libraries access. You can sometimes face duplicated element names when you are looking through the left assets panel or the instance dropdown. This is a bit confusing.
Migrating a design from another tool. Tip: use the online application XDtoSketch, it saved me a lot of time. It isn't magical however, you have to reconstruct components and styles.
Migrating from Sketch to Figma:
Best UI tools comparison:
Note: this post is not sponsored by Figma — this tool fits my needs, but maybe not yours, just try it!