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If you’ve been following the world of digital design over the past couple of years, you’ll know that there’ve been some major changes when it comes to software.

There's been a big shift towards lighter, leaner tools that offer a more restricted set of features, allowing designers to create interfaces much more quickly and intuitively. Gone are the days of building your own layout grid with rectangles in Photoshop.

One of the the coolest kids on the block today is Figma, a UX/UI design platform that runs in your web browser. Since it’s cloud based, you can pull up your files on just about any computer. No more hunting for tricky file names! 

The advantages of Figma

In terms of interface, Figma is pretty similar to Sketch, another industry favorite. But Figma has built up features that now give it quite an edge when it comes to meeting the needs of today’s digital designer:

  • Figma is platform neutral. It runs right in your browser, so you can use it on Windows PCs, Linux, Chromebooks, Macs, and more

  • Figma supports real-time collaboration. Because it’s web-based, clients and colleagues in different locations can access the same file simultaneously. There are granular permissions controls as well, just like in Google Docs, so individuals can be given read-only access if desired.

  • Figma features team libraries. It allows the creation of libraries of design components, helping design teams and wider companies to adhere to a consistent, coherent design system

  • Figma has superpowers. Some of Figma’s extra features will be familiar to Adobe users, like the “view outlines” function. The creators of Figma have also developed “vector networks”, a new and far more intuitive way of creating vector-based shapes.

  • Figma is free. Unlike Sketch and most Adobe products, you can use Figma without having to pay for a license or subscription.

Why we love Figma

At Designlab we’ve been closely following the development of Figma, because its collaborative functionality represents an opportunity to enhance the experience of students as they work with their mentors to learn design.

If you’re starting a course with Designlab soon, we’re big fans of recommending Figma. Not only will you be using a cutting-edge tool used by tons of professional designers, but it will also help you collaborate directly with your mentor. 

Rather than having to constantly export and upload images, Figma allows you to collaborate in real time during your 1-on-1 sessions. It’s as if you’re sitting right next to your mentor.

Learn Figma in just 7 days

To help you master this awesome tool, we’ve put together Figma 101, a free 7-day email course that covers all the basics. It also comes with a heap of bonuses, like keyboard shortcuts cheat sheets and Figma tips and tricks.

author avatar

Andrew Wilshere


Designer, Writer, and Mentor

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