History of UI applications at our shop
When we look back 12 years from now we can rely on 2 (3) applications that made a significant part in our design process.
There were Photoshop, Axure, and vector programs like Corel, Inkscape, and Illustrator.
We used Photoshop as the main application to combine all the design elements, for producing final design and for assets providing for frontend developers.
Axure was in charge of wireframes snd early clickable prototypes.
From time to time we had a need for some vector elements but not so much.
For the showing of the design, we used our internal system where we uploaded static images for every page or scenario…
Then Sketch came along. It was a great refresh in the web design community. The software that is specifically made for web-mobile interfaces. Sketch revolutionized and build the pathway for many software that will come after.
Pros: fast and native app, web and mobile design-centric, prototype, cloud, you can produce fast vector graphics.
Cons: it costs, only for Mac users with no intention to make Windows application, sometimes very buggy.
At that time some of our designers still used Photoshop, and Adobe published their first beta called Adobe XD (specific app for desktop and mobile apps/web design).
I think it gained a lot of popularity because it used a lot of good stuff from Sketch and you were able to install it and use it for free also on Windows. As I remembered the only thing that bothered us was that you will need to buy a license if you want more than one prototype active.
I played only at home for some hobby projects. The idea that I can just type figma.com and I am in a vector software application, blew my mind. The speed of the software that sits in your browser was amazing.
The most beautiful thing was that Figma worked on ANY operating system!
Team acceptance / transition
I tried from time to time, on small doors, to introduce Figma to my colleagues but with not so much success.
One designer was in love with Adobe products and the features like smart objects that are shared across the applications (Photoshop, XD, Illustrator). Another colleague liked to use native software only, not some joke in the browser… :)
But, in early 2020 something changed. We started to develop our own smart home application called Pierre.
Early after the beginning of the design, I transferred all the assets in Figma from Sketch. A little bit earlier Figma introduced the collaboration option similar to Google Documents. You were able to work in the same file, at the same time with a bunch of other persons.
My boss, (ex designer) was able to “play” with live design, to try some new approaches. The interface and commands were very intuitive for him so he also started to evangelize this new software.
Figma also replaced the Axure, and now, we practice drawing wireframes directly in it, together with project managers and clients.
Many people can work on the same file at the same time, you will see live changes immediately.
You can share very rich prototypes with the clients or stakeholders, almost like you are using a live app.
Awesome tools for creating components for faster changes in the design.
Design for many screen sizes on the fly.
A fast-growing community for shared templates, plugins, tools, resources. The database is inbuilt in the application.
The awesome plugin that will save you a lot of time, like embedding Google Maps, creating tables with live data from Google Sheets, auto-populating features for text data, or images….
You can choose who can edit, or comment on some design elements, you can resolve comments.
A mobile application that will help you see live changes on the phone as you draw it on the computer.
The people from Figma bet high on their product and I think they succeed. They built great software that is updated constantly, without any need to install or upgrade by the user.
The community is growing rapidly, the creation of plugin is very simple… I see the bright future and a lot more cases like us every day where teams will agree to start the transition process.
Some of the well-known companies are already on the Figma train.
I encourage you to visit Figma.com to begin your transition.
Ćuković Miloš, COO