Why You Should Consider Switching from Sketch to Figma
Oct 17th, 2017
When Sketch was founded in 2008, it slowly picked up momentum and eventually competed with Photoshop as the go-to tool for web and product designers. Since then, the market for design software has become even more competitive. We are now seeing specialist software from Adobe for product design in the form of Adobe XD. Other competitors such as Affinity Designer and Gravit Designer are also gaining a share of the market with their vector softwares. But there is one application which stands out in almost every category. That application is Figma, a collaboration-focused interface tool available for almost any desktop operating system.
In this article we are going to walk through the aspects of Figma which may make you consider switching from other vector softwares such as Sketch. These include features like collaboration, speed, cost, prototyping, workflow, and handoff. It’s an all-round extraordinary application with some very forward-thinking founders and product designers. As a result, it has a fair chance at eventually becoming the industry standard application for product and web design.
Collaboration is an integral part of any web or product design project. Whether you’re working with other designers, UX writers, marketers, or developers, it’s important to ensure the design process is as inclusive as possible. Unlike Sketch, Figma is built from the ground up to allow for this. Not only can you work on a file alongside other designers in real-time, you can also give text editing permissions to colleagues like UX writers. While you and another designer are finishing up some web or app screens, the writers can be finalising copy without any worry of disrupting design assets.
Another important aspect to allow for this functionality is the cross platform compatibility. Without this, people working on Windows or Linux – often developers and marketers – are instantly excluded from the process. This is the case with Sketch and it being a Mac-only software. By opening it up to other platforms including the Chrome browser, nobody is ruled out and it makes the entire process much more fluid.
The simple design performs everything a web and product designer needs to create the highest quality mocks and assets. Despite the minimalist interface, Figma offers extensive functionality throughout. It’s extremely well thought through and includes some very nifty shortcuts and tricks.
Quick and lightweight
Figma’s web-based architecture is fundamentally different to that of Photoshop, Sketch, or Adobe XD. For one, it allows for near-identical functionality when opened within the Chrome browser. But more importantly, it’s incredibly fast. So fast in fact, that I’ve personally been able to begin using a 2016 base model 12-inch MacBook as my primary computer. I’m still handling files of enormous complexity as I was with Sketch. However, there’s no noticeable lag or beachballing. The only process to sometimes take longer is exporting of large artboards. However, it’s something that rarely needs to be done any longer given Figma’s integrated collaboration and feedback features.
Free for individuals
For personal-use and freelancing, Figma is entirely free. This is almost unheard of in the design software industry. Only when upgrading to a team plan do any charges come into effect. Not only does this lessen the impact of software on a freelancer’s outgoings, it also enables easier collaboration with others. It’s no good asking a copywriter or developer to spend $99 on Sketch when they are only going to use it once or twice every few months.
Offering a free plan also surpasses Sketch’s 50% discount for students. $50 is still a fair amount for a school-kid thinking of trying their hand at design for the first time.
Figma allows you to invite others to feedback directly onto the designs. This eliminates the need for a third-party product such as InVision or Marvel. No more exporting assets, syncing with InVision, or opening a slow-loading website to view the comments on your designs one-by-one. It makes the entire process much simpler and fluid, and saves money on paying for another subscription service.
Prototyping is made super-easy in Figma. A simple toggle switches you to prototyping mode where you can quickly drag arrows from one element to another artboard. It’s incredibly intuitive and doesn’t require you to leave the application or export assets to a third-party service like InVision.
While Sketch offers cloud integration with iCloud, Figma is entirely cloud-based. This means your files are accessible from anywhere with a simple login. It also means it doesn’t take up a massive amount of storage on your computer. Sketch has been notorious in the past for producing large backup files in the background, and generating files with gigantuous file sizes.
It eliminates the need to sync assets with colleagues over a cloud service like Dropbox. It also gives greater peace of mind given that wiping or damaging your computer would not lose even 5 minutes of design work. There is also a complete version history should something go awry or need revising to a previous version.
Code export for iOS + Android
The code export in Figma allows for instant copy-and-paste code snippets for web, Android, and iOS. This makes it super easy for developers to replicate exact styling and layouts as they appear in the Figma. This reduces the typical back-and-forth that often applies when attempting to match a developed version of a design with the source file. In turn it speeds up workflow and also simplifies the process of making any style changes down the line.
It’s always important to consider your use-case. For some designers, Sketch will still be a better choice given its slightly different featureset and familiar design. Similarly, some of these features may not be necessary for your line of design work. Perhaps you’d be better exploring some other great options like Affinity Designer or Adobe Experience Design. But for designers in the web and product industry, I’d highly recommend giving Figma a try-out. It’s a well-rounded and capable product which only looks set to get better and better into the future.