Figma: Our design tool of choice

As a UX team joining Napier we had to decide on a design tool that we were going to use for all of our projects and work going forward. Both myself and Tor had previous experience using Figma at other organisations so it wasn’t much of a challenge on settling on the tool we were going to proceed with. We knew we wanted a tool that would adapt and expand with us as the university’s digital services grow.

A bit about Figma and it’s history

Figma is a web application for interface design and user experience design with a huge emphasis on real-time collaboration. Before Figma there really was no tool that allowed designers to work on the same file at the same time in a Google Docs style working approach. Figma is used by leading product team from across the globe including Google, Uber and Netflix. Figma has become so popular it was recently acquired by Adobe in a $20 billion acquisition.

With Figma being purely web based everything is saved in the cloud. This is great as we don’t have to worry about storing design files locally and instead they are in the cloud accessible by all members of our team.

Figma VS Photoshop

Many may ask why we didn’t settle with Adobe Photoshop for designing screens and mockups. The main answer to this is the collaboration aspect. If we are working on a large time consuming file, having the ability for multiple team members to work on it simultaneously is going to cut our production time in half. Not only this, but we would have to deal with manual version control, ensuring all team members are on the most up to date version. With Figma, this is all handled automatically. Lastly, another major reason Figma is a winner for us is with it being a vector based application. This allows us to scale elements up to any size without a reduction in quality. For example, if we designed an interface for a smaller iPhone, the interface could easily be scaled up to a large tablet size with no loss of quality.

The future path to a Design System

We wanted a tool that allows us to have scope for building out a future design system for the university. Having this will allow us to ensure everything from Napier is consistent, and every application looks and feels familiar to the user. University of the Arts London adopted Figma and built a design system from the ground up for their new website and web applications. This is just one case study of Figma supporting the digital services of a higher education institute.

By Josh Longhurst

I'm a UX Designer at Edinburgh Napier University. I strive to create intuitive and enjoyable user experiences across the University's digital services.

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