Posted on February 4, 2021
Before our agency team started using Figma, we would often find ourselves adapting to the tools used by our clients. This meant growing our aptitude for industry standards such as Sketch, InVision, Miro among others. Although we were "good" at many tools, we weren't able to go deep on any one tool. We knew we were missing out on some major efficiencies. With this in mind, we decided to change our process once we jumped on the Figma train. We not only used Figma when clients looked to us for best practice, we also began to advocate for the tool with clients who were still loyal to other tools.
When exploring different design tools out there, the stand-out feature of real-time collaboration that Figma boasts is undoubtedly what sets it apart. It doesn't disappoint.
Today, as we kick off a new year, we have written into our offering, that we are a Figma-only team. Thankfully, we're among great company with others who have fallen hard for the collaborative, user friendly, and even FUN tool.
Oh - and did I mention it's FREE (for up to 2 editors and 3 projects) 😎
As strong advocates, we thought we'd pause and reflect on what makes Figma our go-to tool at AMSD and share these insights with you all. We hope this list inspires you to discover Figma for yourself or, if you're a fellow advocate - join us in paying it forward by adding the reasons you love Figma and sharing this post with a design colleague.
1. Collaboration like 👏 no 👏 other 👏
As a remote design team we could relate with all of the design memes describing the hardship of final.doc, FINAL.doc, REALFINAL.doc and other frustrations of a system that wasn't as location and time agnostic as we were.
Figma has changed the game for us in this respect by allowing us to design as if we were side by side. The peace of mind that we are all working on the most recent version of our designs is enough to jump on board, but that's just the beginning.
Beyond the benefits for our design team itself, collaboration extends to our clients. With the ability to share direct links to design frames and discuss via comments pinned directly onto designs, our team and our clients found a new groove in Figma.
Here are a few tips for how we ensure smooth onboarding for clients into Figma:
- Using Loom, we share a how-to-Figma walkthrough with all new clients showing them how to browse designs and add their comments
- During our clients calls, we use Figma as the backdrop on our screen share. This way clients see us manipulating designs directly on the platform and can even follow along in real time
- When we kick off a new project, we share the benefits of everyone sharing their feedback on the same canvas. This gives us the chance to convince all teammates who may have varying communication preferences of the opportunity presented by an all-on -board approach
2. The Figma Community & Plugins 🌎
While we work to establish our own best practice at AMSD for how we use Figma to support our clients, we are not alone. The newly launched Figma Community is an outstanding resource for our team where we're continuously inspired to use the tool for all that it offers.
Think of the Figma Community as a curated collection of projects that designers from all over the world have shared to show off their skills and give back to the design community. A quick search in the community will give you instant access to projects that others are working on and resources that will save you and your team SO MUCH TIME.
Our go-to community resources include icon libraries, design systems, as well as Figma playground files and so much more. The best part of this community is that all resources are collaborative files themselves, so duplicating a copy for yourself gives you access to the assets in the format you're after. (While noting credit where it's due, of course)
The Figma Community is full of great assets, projects and ideas to help you and your team become more efficient and inspired. In addition, you can search through TONS of great plugins that will also help optimize your Figma experience. [More on our favorite plugins to come in a future article!]
Not sure where to start with your exploration of the Figma Community? Check out some of our favorites:
- Unicons - a beautiful set of 1500+ icons ready for you to use in your designs
- iOS & iPadOS 14 UI Kit - common iOS/iPadOS system-level interface elements all in one place
- 1100+ Vector Illustration Library - helping designers source high quality graphics
- Super Variant Bros - have fun exploring functionality with some familiar faces
3. Great for Designers & Developers 👩🏽🎨✌️👨🏻💻
With an ever-growing fanbase, Figma is taking rank as one of the most widely used tools in the industry. As such, we benefit greatly from its speedy evolution. The team is consistently pushing product updates that continue to change the design game. To see a library of these awesome features in action, check out the Figma YouTube page and tune into their Figma in Five* Series.
Over and above the intuitive user interface for creating designs, Figma also hosts features that make a hand-off to a Development team as seamless as possible. At AMSD, we invite the Developers that we are working with to our Figma files directly where they can export assets in various file formats and even inspect each element of the design for a smooth implementation. (See the Inspect panel in the example below)
*Bonus* - Figma is a browser based tool meaning that collaborators can all gain access to your designs regardless of their go-to operating system.
Another best practice that we have introduced at AMSD is the standardization of Dev Notes which helps us translate our designs and the interactions between them to our Development colleagues. We have introduced this new tool as assets available in our Team Library which makes them accessible across all projects at the agency. For the styling of our notes, we borrowed from Note This shared by Eduard Giménez (@eduard_io). This tool is a super convenient way to add notes to our file in a standardized way.
4. From User Flow to Prototype 🚧 📲
There are so many amazing tools out there for each step in the design process. From brainstorming, user flows, and wire framing to high fidelity designs, user testing, and prototyping. It can be daunting to create a roster of tools that helps you and your team achieve all that you're after, while ensuring that your design remains transferable across these platforms. That's why at AMSD we have adopted an all-Figma approach (with small exception).
So that we can make sure our design processes are standardized across projects, we have created an AMSD Asset Library. This Figma file is the home of all templates that we use for each step in the design process. While this file is a living, breathing resource, it acts as the first place our designers visit to grab the elements they need for a given step in a design process. This gives us more time to optimize our conversations with clients and ensure our time is best spent on deliverables rather than defining process with each engagement.
Here is a snapshot of our Asset Library:
It is human nature to want something tangible to manipulate when offering feedback. With that, we work to create prototypes of interactions and/or complete user flows for our clients whenever we can. This helps them experience their project as close to real as possible. Figma has great prototyping functionality built in which offers flexibility for us to illustrate broad navigation as well as finite interactions.
5. A Dash of Fun 🥳
Figma is really an open canvas of possibilities. You'll find yourself opening it for, yes all your design projects, but also team building exercises, project planning and as your go-to digital whiteboard for almost anything you can think of!
At AMSD, we are proud that our design team is comprised of Designers who are new to the industry through to others who are seasoned vets. In addition to this diversification of background, as we mentioned earlier, we are also 100% remote (even before it was cool😎).
Figma has helped us turn those two potential obstacles into opportunities. By creating moments of exploration and fun in Figma, we support one another in honing our skills of the tool while also sharing moments of virtual togetherness. Most recently, we enjoyed a game of Figtionary during a team happy hour which had us laughing and expanding our impression of what could be accomplished with this, the tool we use everyday.
We also discovered that our talents are better applied to product design than Figma freehand drawing... 😅
There is an ever-growing library of these great games to try out with your team. To get you started, create a new project and explore the "fun activities" tab of the templates selector. There is bound to be something that will spark joy in your team. And if you can't find it - why not try your hand at creating it and sharing it with the Figma Community!
For these 5 reasons, but so many more, we are all-in on Figma. We are continuously inspired to create beautiful, intuitive and user focused designs and Figma is our teammate as we do.
If we've convinced you to give Figma a try we hope you are as impressed as we are. If you're still on the fence and have a burning question you'd love to ask us, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reading and happy creating!