I’ve always been slow to adopt new design tools.
If I’m comfortable with a certain workflow or toolset, it’s difficult for me to rationalize shaking things up, especially when I have looming deadlines.
When I was in grad school, I was firmly rooted in Adobe products and refused to warm up to Sketch. When I began working at my first large tech company a short while later, they were just transitioning to Sketch and I didn’t have a choice, so I hopped on board. The switch was painless and I fell in love with Sketch—my previous complaints seemed silly.
Within two years, the design team was starting to chatter about a new tool called Figma. I was blown away—were we going to switch again?
Joining Design Systems
Before I had a chance to find out, I left to join the Design Systems team at Dropbox.
Our team’s mission is to empower product teams to create exceptional experiences effortlessly. In service of that, we spend a good portion of our time guiding designers and engineers toward tools that help them work smarter.
When I joined the company, Dropbox product design was rooted in Sketch, but a handful of new tools were gaining traction. The Design Systems team felt it was time to take a deeper look at our recommended toolset to make sure we were fulfilling our team mission. We decided to pilot a few tools (Figma included) for a couple months on isolated projects. Near the end of the pilot, Kyle Turman joined Design Systems as Design Manager and pushed us to make a final decision.
We all agreed that transitioning the product design team to Figma made sense for a handful of reasons.
- It's collaborative and transparent
- It’s cloud-based, like Dropbox
- It has better tools for administering complex design systems
- It’s built on web technologies, making it cross-platform and more extensible
Dropbox and Figma
Given the Dropbox mission to design a more enlightened way of working, the first two points above were particularly impactful to our decision making.
Workplaces and productivity tools are rapidly changing. The proliferation of cloud computing and a move towards decentralized and flexible ways of working have both enabled and necessitated more collaborative tools. If our docs, spreadsheets, slides, and other files are in the cloud and easily collaborated upon by teams, shouldn’t the same be true for our designs?
We hypothesized that if the company switched to Figma and our design files were accessible to all of our teammates, we would be able to streamline design process and spend time where it counts—making. Instead of creating manicured presentations, designers would be able to gather feedback via in-app comments and presentations would become less formal, as teammates could follow along in actual files.
If having your teammates in your files worries you, I assure there’s nothing to worry to about. There are plenty of privacy settings in Figma to keep your work from being shared until the timing is right.
However, if you want to have some fun, I recommend creating a fake Figma cursor with your CEO’s name to give your designer pals a scare.