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Head of Design Joined almost 2 years ago
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If it's working with the Apple Pencil I'm in.
"go die on a hill" haha. Not from my side. That' not helping either of us.
We know the problem with the stakeholders early in the process as well. What we did is specifically talking a language that fits the stage. We do not allow our team to use the UI Library elements for early discussions. We just do it Wireframes or even more abstract. As soon as a design "seems" finished (but it's nowhere near to that) by using library components, the discussions get heated up. Like you said with pixels etc. The more abstract we are, the more we discuss problems not visuals.
Figma helps also with that. All relevant people in the same file, gray squares, descriptions and cursors pointing where something is missing. "Here we're missing the VAT information". (I love missing VAT information btw.)
But once you've got that solved, it's extremely valuable to get stakeholders knowledge as early as possible. And as visuals are consumed much faster than confluence pages, we have a lot of visual discussions. Even with accountant and or sysarchitecture guys.
for example: we've solved the whole unexpected errors flow visually in figma. It was way easier for all the architects and devs to see what should happen. A pimped flow chart so to say.
To not include stakeholders out of fear from that discussions is in my opinion the wrong approach. I agree it's a challenge to adapt visuals and discussion style to the production stage. But it's harder to adapt "finished" designs when problems are not fully solved yet.
And one side-note. In our company I introduced the Design-Process in a totally Dev-Driven Company two years ago. Everybody thought of Design as a "make things beautiful". Therefore I had to include our CEO in early stage discussions. So he saw the value of solving problems, making better products and being faster in development. Being visual with Figma helped a lot. We're now heading towards fully design driven.
I know your situation just too good. As I mentioned above it's not really the single feature that made the change for us. It was the combination of cloud based file handling, versioning and prototyping (with animation).
I totally would also not to switch for the switch's sake. That would be a terrible idea, specially because it's not only about the tool. It's also about the learning curve to relevant people (business, devs, etc.) which costs a lot of money. In our case: we had to consider that elderly POs needed to learn something else than InVision.
We decided to risk the switch after discovering SmartAnimate. It was just the last bit for us. After the switch Prototypes got better, communication through the whole company got better and never did we have problems with file management or library synchronization anymore.
As you might have recognized, I'm a huge Figma believer. But not because it does something fancy. It simply saves us a s***t load of time. Not while designing, but while the discussion and decision phase with our stakeholders.
And for us designers, we are now able to talk "visually" (high quality realtime wireframing) with our stakeholders in front of their eyes - no matter where they are.
It's a game changer. It's the combination. It's the workflow. It's not the feature. (Shit that sounds like a really bad commercial hahah)
As I mentioned above, that's all we need. Yes it's limited, but if you use multiple pages with redirects you can do almost everything. As I also said it's not perfect, but for the time it consumes the results are awesome. For more complex stuff, we can still use framer or something similar.
Just it to be mentioned: Figma's SmartAnimate is similar to XD AutoAnimate. So if one would work with XD or Figma (which I recommend) one would not have to export stuff. Specially if designs change after you've done all the work animating it this is a huge pain.
I also tried a lot of tools for Sketch. Never with a satisfying result - or as you said super expensive.. In my early days, when something needed to be fancy and totally unrealistic in terms of realization i used AE. Which was totally off the table as soon as we started to scale and stuff had to be developed.
After several years with Sketch we changed to Figma which has a pretty neat prototype animation tool "SmartAnimate". SmartAnimate was our last reason to switch from Sketch to Figma - besides kicking the InVision license, the Versioning stuff and being limited to MacOS (Our Devs don't use MacOS).
SmartAnimate totally does the job and my devs understand what the final product should behave like. For sure it's not as smooth as a tool using a keyframe - approach but for the time you invest you get something you can work with.
And as far as I know Adobe XD has a similar way of animation.
I misspelled the german word "einfach" as "eifnach" in 1m high letters, printed over an exhibition stand.
The company I worked for then never had more visitors at an exhibition.
Can you give me some insights, where Sketch is way better than Figma? I worked for a long time with Sketch and after 8 months in Figma I just didn't find any let down (Only Runner is awesome). The extensions are built up since they've launched the Figma API.
Abstract is nice - I just don't want to use another tool to do the handoffs. The Design-Development coordination is difficult enough. My fellow designers used Abstract in their former company, I heard no complaints.
Realtime collaboration is nowhere near overhyped. We have designers in multiple countries. We're visual people. We set a problem on one "file" and everybody shows their solution visually. We discuss, we iterate we solve. Visually in realtime. It's a game changer. Try that with a Skype call and Sketch ;). As long as you work alone, sure, realtime collaboration is not that necessary. You design, you create prototypes, you get feedback and you continue designing. But if you're working with multiple designers this one is gold.
And also not only Designers are on board because realtime collaboration is not limited to designing: we're doing mood-boards, flow-charts, user-journeys, wireframes, specification etc. all online and visible/accessible for all the stakeholders. It did not only change how we design. It changed how our company communicates. This isn't possible with local files.
I really like to compare it to Microsoft Word and Confluence. It's cool to have your local files. But if the right person does not have access to it at the right time the value is zero. If I work late hours, I don't have time to wait for the next day and another person to send me their documentation in a file. I want realtime access to all the necessary information, from whatever device I use, from wherever I am. I think that's why Sketch is also jumping on that train.
Ah I forgot about that. A medium prototype (32 - 50 artboards) tried to kill my Macs fans several times.
Figma also likes to use my machine, but it is way faster than Sketch ever was. After working with Figma for about 5 months, maintaining an old prototype in Sketch was a nightmare.
Collaboration, Component Structure, Component Overrides and Prototyping is just better in Figma.
And when Sketch changed to the new Symbol Selector I knew the switch to Figma was right. They can't be serious about that control. I get the «stay in workflow» scenario, but it's just a pain.
Moving from Sketch to Figma was exactly like moving from Photoshop to Sketch. Give it a shot, you might be surprised. The approach of how they solve problems is pretty well thought through.
Ah and about the future potential:
Sketch raised 20 Mio USD in a series A funding to put Sketch into the Browser
Figma raised 40 Mio USD in a Series C pitch and is already in the browser.
So even if they're now similar design tools. Figma is going to overtake Sketch in the next 1 or 2 years.
Don't get me wrong - not everything is gold about Figma. But compared to Sketch it's pretty shiny ;).
When I first wanted to answer your comment, I thought about pointing out features where Figma does a way better job than Sketch. But that's not helping either of us. You'll disagree and I'd stand my ground. I don't see any outcome in such a discussion.
So let's put it this way. After 3 years of sketching, we've had several issues with collaboration. We had issues with library synchronization with plant, we had issues with our cloud drive and file organization. We were a small team and already being able to produce tons of files that needed to be synchronized archived and being taken care of. For the prototyping we had InVision where we uploaded static yet clickable versions of our designs via the Craft Plugin.
So when I to uploaded a new prototype I needed to:
-> Use Plant to synchronize the Library File, open the Sketch file to check everything out, Figure out how some stacks were destroyed, fix them, use craft to upload to InVision, figure out that i forgot some prototype hotspots, upload it again, then invite all of the stakeholders to a static prototype, where they don't see any progression until I do all the above again.
It sucked so hard. Due to all these individual components in our workflow there were so many possibilities for error. And boy did these errors happen.
We use our prototypes also for sales and user testing. Therefore it was really annoying that there was an issue with InVisions iOS App: all prototypes were shown in portrait mode - device orientation ignored. The issue was there for over a year. That was the last decision driver to move to Figma.
It was relieving.
No struggles with file organization anymore. No multiple price plans from multiple products for one job (creating prototypes). No synchronization problems anymore between Mac A and Mac B (omg that still hurts my brain). Just working.
I could point out how brilliant Figma solves stuff. Like the shortcuts for aligning content using the gamer-pattern on the keyboard Option + WASD or the best renaming function I've ever seen. But it's as you say: doing similar things a bit better, some worse.
Here are the main things that make Figma a different compared to Sketch:
-> In Figma our design-file is our prototype. It's always live.
-> No need to organize our files on a cloud system
-> One solution from Lo-Fi to Hi-Fi to interactive prototype
-> One priceplan
-> Browserbased -> no MacOs restriction (important for our devs)
And the most valuable for fast paced iterations: -> Realtime collaboration
We can design while our business people (all over the world) watch and give us feedback right away. No screen sharing needed. They enter the file and see what we do.
So if you compare the two just as design tools, you might be right. But If you watch the whole workflow, Figma is a different story. It simplifies so many things. We're way faster than before. We don't lose time anymore on stuff like sync issues. As most of us, we don't have time for that.
enough elaboration for you?
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