At Mäd, we are all about solving problems, and delivering great design while doing it. To do this well we need intelligent tools capable of allowing us to execute all of our ideas concisely.
For a long time, our favored design software was Sketch on macOS. There was nothing inherently wrong with Sketch, yet as we promote continuous learning we constantly scour new software to spot improvements and opportunities. Sketch managed to impress against other available solutions we trialled, standing the test of time (until now).
Let's talk Figma.
The key difference from Sketch, is that Figma is web-based.
Previously, we required each macOS machine to have the latest Sketch client app installed. Since Figma is on the web, we can access the tool remotely to continue our work with any device operating a desktop browser.
Whilst we love Apple’s ecosystem working seamlessly with all our office computers, Figma opens up cross-system accessibility which will undoubtedly be key for many companies.
However, this difference is, by far, not the only reason why we evolved to using Figma.
1. Culture Fit.
We have an outcome-driven culture, everyone takes ownership over their time management and delivers great work from their own direction. This culture allows us the freedom to work from anywhere as long as the work meets Mäd's high standard. We can draw some parallels to Valve’s innovative approach, whereby each team member is seen as a decision maker for the business rather than operating from a traditional office hierarchy. The emphasis on responsibility and possibility encourages our team to take pride in their work and Make It Happen™.
Figma aids our ability to work remotely, individually or as a team, whenever we want.
In the past, if files were saved to a certain office computer, it’d be a strain to organize remote working. The process of compressing and emailing/transporting files could get cumbersome and lead to multiple copies of the same work existing - problematic for potential overwriting and updating errors. Furthermore, endless phone calls or video conferencing woes may still not effectively handle a joint project if only one team member could access the file at a time.
With Figma, we know that the software and our design files are there safely on the cloud and ready to go. We can use any Windows or Mac computer and continue where we left off. Instant, easy access.
2. Plugin and Personalization.
Previously with Sketch, we found ourselves having to install a heap of plugins for each computer in the office. With Figma, everything is linked to our account - whenever we log on to a new computer, all the plugins are automatically included and updated. This is key because on average our team members are using around 20 plugins. Knowing that our project is ready to load, with everything included, at any time - is invaluable to productivity and using our time constructively.
There are plentiful features within Figma that we love, in particular the useful ‘nudge amount [shift + direction]’ speeds up intelligent movement on the canvas while a simple direction key allows for meticulous positioning.
Organizing our work is extremely important, and Figma offers multiple options to do this effectively. Whilst in a project, we can create a document with multiple art-boards and multiple pages. Each page can be given a different background colour to help us view our work against desired tones.
3. Better Collaboration.
Continuing with the organizational benefits, the ‘projects’ feature allows us to create clear groupings per project/client/area of work. All of our projects can be shared between key team members to work on and critique. We can invite clients to view our projects in real-time in ‘read-only’ mode, to protect our IP or as an extra security measure to ensure work isn’t altered or removed without permission.
While working in Figma, multiple team members can access the same file within a project and work collaboratively. Named colored cursors indicate who is active on the file, as the real-time progress is shown to everyone currently viewing or editing the document. Previously if we wanted to work on the same file, we’d share a file, and work independently on it. Then, we’d need to send the updated file back to the other team member - and be extremely careful that we hadn’t missed any edits as it’s common for team members to work on a task at the same time. It could be extremely problematic to end up with a list of tediously named documents that potentially clash with missing updates:
For example, two team members may have accessed version 1.2 at the same time, and their updates could clash- leading to missing or incorrect work later down the line. Figma solves this potential issue by keeping everything in one place, within a single file.
There is still merit in keeping older versions of a project, and Figma allows for this too. At any point, we can save the current project state as a named version with supporting description added if desired. Team members are able to reference back to previous works with ease, and can find a detailed breakdown of every change to a file. The breakdown includes usernames and timestamps, along with an ‘autosave’ feature consistently backing up work.
4. Prototype & Presentation.
Previously, we would hand-pick a software for each task. We’d select the best design tool to create assets, the best prototyping tools to make our projects, and the best animation software to showcase the progress to clients.
Figma can be used to do everything.
The prototype feature allows us to make elements clickable, showing how web pages or applications would function. The multiple artboards and pages allow us to lay out information in an easily digestible flow, whilst the various editing tools enable us to create our work internally within Figma from scratch. However, it’d be remiss not to highlight that the design aspect is geared towards UX content and, as such, there are limitations on graphic design. We still use other powerful tools such as illustrator or photoshop when required.
When we first made the switch to Figma, we thought we were merely upgrading from Sketch. The intuitive interface offered by Figma made this switch seamless, whilst beginners could also master the functionality of the software fairly quickly. We ended up with streamlining multiple software, no longer needing to process via Sketch, InVision and Google Drive as Figma could handle all operations we needed internally.
As always, we’re keeping an eye on software development to ensure we stay at the forefront of creative agencies - whilst we’re excited to watch Figma develop, we know the importance of flexibility. Knowing when to make the switch to a new tool can vastly improve productivity but likewise, a rushed decision can dampen progress. Fortunately, we believe Figma have got their software right - and have benefited greatly from the powerful tools.
Request a Proposal.
If you would like to #workwithmad then send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's Make It Happen.™