What's so good about Figma

Sketch vs. Figma

It's been a while since we wrote about the Sketch design tool. A lot has happened in that time. Adobe XD, Invision Studio and especially Figma have become serious competitors.

And even if we still think Sketch is great, we also gave Figma a chance and looked at what the competitor can do. So much in advance: we were pleasantly surprised.

What is Figma?

As already mentioned, Figma is a design tool for creating web designs as well as mobile and UI designs, but also vector graphics. Founded in 2013, Figma received Series A funding of $ 14 million two years later. According to co-founder Dylan Field, the idea behind Figma was to create a tool that works like Google Docs for word processing. Just for interface design.

collaboration

This brings us to - in our opinion - the most important aspect of Figma: the collaborations with other people. Real time. So really in real time. Most importantly: there is nothing to complain about about the performance. The tool runs smoothly and stably at all times.

platform

If you want to work with Sketch, you inevitably need a device with MacOS. That is not bad per se, after all, there are few points of criticism on Apple devices overall. And yet you are bound to a certain system. Not so with Figma. There is an app for Windows and MacOS, but Figma is primarily browser-based and works on all devices, including Linux. A real plus.

Sharing

If you wanted to share files in Sketch, you really had to send the file. The other person must have installed Sketch and reopened the file. That worked, but it was extremely cumbersome. Even when working in Google Drive, Dropbox, etc., since a file can quickly grow to a few hundred megabytes in size and with each storage process it would like to be uploaded again.

Figma took a different approach. Since the files are stored in a cloud, there is no need to split the file itself. It is enough if you - similar to Google Docs - shared a link. And also with Figma you can choose different access rights for the users. So the whole team can give feedback and leave comments and the developers can directly see all the necessary information such as colors, font sizes or spacing in Figma (for Sketch we use Invision or Zeplin).

In the meantime, Sketch also launched the beta version of the Cloud Inspector in January 2020, with which there is a free handoff function for developers.

Pricing

While you get an annual license for Sketch for $ 99, Figma relies on a subscription model with three price levels. The starter version includes two users and three projects and is free of charge. The professional version is available for $ 12 per user / month and includes an unlimited number of projects. The Organization version is available for $ 45 per user / month, which not only includes plug-in management but also analytics data.

Plugins

Plugins are something that make working in Sketch easier. Countless extensions can be found on the Sketch website and other platforms for Sketch, and can be installed in no time at all. Figma has not offered any plugins for a long time, but followed suit in August 2019. Since then, many new plugins have been added, but the total is still significantly fewer than with Sketch.

additional

Now there are also a few little things at Figma that are not necessarily world-shattering and innovative, but definitely make working in Figma more pleasant. First there are the integrated Google Fonts, with which a large number of fonts are directly available.

And then there is the import of sketch files, which should make switching from Sketch to Figma child's play. Of course, we tested it directly and only had to make a few adjustments to our icon font. Otherwise Figma is as intuitive as Sketch and if you compare the interface of the two programs, you can also see many similarities. This is of course intended by Figma, if the change should ultimately be made as easy as possible without the user having to get used to the new interface for a long time.

The functions included, which are elementary for design and layout, hardly differ from one another, except in terms of naming. This is the name of the Artboards from Sketch at Figma Frames and the popular symbols are called Components. But in the end, the names don't play a big role, once you've come to terms.

What is (still) bothering us?

A big advantage of Sketch is definitely the large community, which you can always ask for advice if you get stuck. Unfortunately, this is still missing at Figma. Although the community is growing fast, it still doesn't have as many active members as Sketch.

Another small drawback, as already mentioned, is the limited number of plugins. Extensions are not essential for the work, but they definitely simplify and accelerate the process.

Last but not least, we want to talk about the symbols and components. Every symbol that you create in Sketch is moved to its own symbol page, so that all symbols are collected centrally in one place. That actually makes a very big difference in terms of clarity and we miss this function a little in Figma.

Conclusion

So let's summarize: Not so long ago, Sketch was the undisputed number one modern design tool. But the tide has now turned. Many functions were added to Figma in a short period of time and is now a design tool that is really easy to work with. We were particularly impressed by the collaboration and sharing with the developer handoff.

We will continue to rely on Sketch for existing, large projects. We are familiar with there, behind the files there is a system, we can find our way around well and have all the functions we need. We have already migrated several small projects and we will rely on Figma with new projects in the future. Our developers are very pleased with this step.

About Lisa

Businesswoman in eCommerce and at SPACE SQUAD, among other things, responsible for looking after shopware systems, content marketing and UI design of web apps.