Leveling Up With Figma

Being on the cutting edge of technology is something that we at Geekbears pride ourselves on. Whether that means researching new frameworks, staying up to date with web design trends, or finding new tools to increase our efficiency we’re dedicated to constantly growing with our partners.

Recently we took a look back at our technical pipeline and began to evaluate if there were any new software we could bring in to make our lives easier and reduce the time it takes to bring our partner’s ideas to life.

For a long time we had been using a multitude of software for designing websites and apps and then handing those designs off to the technical team for development. For design we had used a combination of Sketch and Figma, with Sketch being dominant in the industry for a long time due to its robust toolkit and multitude of features and integrations. Figma, on the other hand, is a newer tool with many of the same functionalities, but for the longest time just wasn’t quite enough for full use on our team. We also used tools like InVision and Zeplin for prototyping and turning designs into dimensions and code, respectively.

While each of these tools is extremely powerful in isolation, it was not a pipeline that catered to rapid iteration and implementation of feedback from clients. Even one small change in a design would mean exporting in two different formats into two different software, then assigning tags in each and placing it in its correct place among the other screens. Needless to say it became quite hard for our team to be enthusiastic about new changes when it came time for implementation.

Luckily Figma has been pushing forward in the past years to become an extremely robust suite for design functionality, adding the ability to create prototypes within the app, and the ability to generate redlines and code for development handoff. Not only that but Sketch, the former leader of the industry, is a Mac only platform, whereas Figma is accessible web, Windows, or Mac. The icing on the cake, just when things couldn’t get any better, is that Figma is an extremely collaborative tool. Similar to the functionality of Google Docs wherein you can see where team members or others on the document are making edits, Figma allows for multiple team members to be editing and viewing on a single document with real time updates. This feature has saved our team hours of total time, whether that comes from collaborative designing, cutting out the pains of file versioning and file exchange, as well as technical clarifications wherein developers and designers can be on a call and discussing specific screens directly on the document.

Needless to say, the path forward was clear. For the past two months we have operated the majority of our design to development pipeline solely in Figma, cutting out external software like InVision and Zeplin. We do want to clarify, though, that these software are by no means invalid for many cases and companies. InVision, for example, is arguably one of the most powerful prototyping tool available on the market, containing a variety of features that can turn clickable prototypes into extremely believable mocks of the final product. However, the more external tools that you use within a pipeline, the more time it will take to export and integrate with each of those during the pipeline. At the end of the day we found that we could grow and improve our work by cutting down to just Figma, but we can’t express how important it is for each person or company to explore what is out there and find the tools that fit their work style. We’re in a renaissance of design and prototyping tools, so there has never been a better time to take a step back from your own workflow and ask, “is there a better way we can do this?”