My life shifted from advertising towards design and innovation while Figma shifted Adobe Illustrator off of my desktop dock. As a fully exhausted, beaten down ex-advertising creative, I arrived to Figma and took a breath of fresh air. I first downloaded it to design my portfolio website, but since then, I’ve used it to make alphabet collages, birthday posts for Instagram, a presentation about mass incarceration, and a dozen cover letters. On Figma’s About page, they say, “We look forward to a future where design is even more collaborative, borderless, transparent, community-driven, and open-sourced.” I already believe they have been a huge part in growing that future, but I wanted to talk to people and see how we could redesign Figma and make it even better for a multitude of people, skills, and industries.
This redesign was an answer to the KPCB Fellowship Application and their prompt: ‘Redesign a feature from any of the companies participating in the Fellows Program’.
I started this redesign with my favorite step: learning about people! Before I approached redesigning a feature, I needed to hear how and why people used, liked, or disliked Figma and what needed a solution to begin with. I created an interview guide to explore three things: use cases, user flows, and Figma features. You can see the interview guides here. I recruited three very different participants, Andrew, Vanessa, and Zain and got to talk to them one on one for 30 minutes and see how they were feeling about Figma.
Andrew manages a lot of people and started using Figma to design materials for his company. He “only designs when he has to” but uses Figma to oversee and collaborate with designers he manages and to create the company’s pitch decks and infographics.
Vanessa wouldn’t call herself a visual designer but loves to keep up with design blogs and the Figma community. She’s dabbled in Figma to design her website and some presentations but said it all still felt very new for her. Vanessa is both extremely excited and extremely overwhelmed about all that can be accomplished on Figma.
Zain is a product designer and has used Figma for most of his UX work and to teach design classes. He’s touched pretty much every feature, knows his way around design systems and auto-layout, and keeps up with Figma’s new updates and features regularly.
After gathering a plethora of thoughts, feelings, and quotes, I found several reoccurring themes despite their different backgrounds, industries, and uses.
Users come from everywhere.
The learning curve is different for everyone.
Different backgrounds result in different user journeys.
Users have different levels of motivation to explore Figma's possibilities.
They find extremely inventive and interesting ways to communicate with one another on Figma.
When looking back at the research and the comparisons between users, the biggest differences were in how they described themselves. Product designer, strategist, manager. One even went further to emphasize, “I am not a designer.”
There is a notion that being a designer means you know how to use Figma better or more properly, but designing is not only practiced by designers. Everyone designs, and design is everywhere. Habit and personality can greatly affect someone’s motivation to learn new skills, but I wanted to explore what could change about Figma’s interface that could help the learning curve flatten out a bit. After all, Figma’s main purpose is to make design more accessible for everyone. I focused in on one exciting question for this redesign: How might we welcome a variety of people to easily create projects for all of their different industries, teams, projects, and ideas?
Open up the interface to a multitude of projects, approaches, and skill levels and enable them to complete what they set out to.
Easily browse new lessons that Figma offers about specific tools, concepts, or principles. Find tutorials needed to start a project or just browse to gain some new skills.
Get a head start by browsing community templates for presentations, websites, resumes, and a multitude more. Use templates to start quick projects and see how others are doing things.
See what the community is up to before getting started on a project. Get some ideas and see what’s possible by seeing how Spotify does things or how users teach classes with Figma.
Change of Scenery allows users to pick different views of the workspace depending on the kind of project or goals they are trying to achieve. It utilizes the right-side panel to add in functionalities such as a chat box or a built-in community tab to give users access to everything they need while staying in their workspace. This feature focuses on the user flow once they are working on something, have a project going, and need some backup from their team, the community, or Figma tutorials.
While working on this redesign and learning more and more about why Figma was made, it became really clear that they strive to enable people to learn how to design and about design. One of the users said during their interview that, “People are learning it together, exploring it together.” And that cannot be said about all other design platforms; Figma has the right resources and community to make the platform usable for so many different industries: education, business, research, amongst many more. This redesign was just a matter of connecting users with those resources and letting them know they have all the backup they could need when tackling their objectives.
I will be honest, I was in a rush for this project. I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to dedicate to such an exciting product and company, but I genuinely enjoyed every moment of it. Figma has only come into my life in this past year, but it continues to be my trusted design friend and community. I can’t wait to see what it continues to help me accomplish and how other users will continue to surprise me.