So what happens now with Figma
The design news of the week or the year?
Adobe acquires Figma. Watch my take on it on YouTube:
This was the news that made so many designers disappointed & angry recently.
We, designers, are an opinionated bunch. Of course, most of us had something to say about it. Just take a look at design Twitter.
Figma has built something incredible in the last few years. An application that designers and developers love. It created delights.
But why did this news make many designers displeased (or even angry)?
If you’re a seasoned designer, then it’s likely that Figma is not the first or second design software you had to learn. You likely started designing using Adobe products, e.g., Fireworks or Photoshop. You felt the pain of learning the ins and outs of tools. Being proficient in an Adobe product took time, sweat and blood. You might have even given up learning at some point because it was such a pain.
Then other tools came along, such as Sketch, Affinity Designer, and Figma.
Figma was a delight to learn and use compared to Photoshop or Illustrator.
Figma provided a stripped-down version of Illustrator. Only the necessary features were in it.
You might think…well, we already had Sketch in 2016, so why didn’t Sketch reach the same success as Figma?
Sketch was a long-loved design tool by many designers, including me (I still love Sketch). Sketch was easy to use. Due to its small learning curve, you could have been proficient just in a couple of weeks.
However, there was one large issue with it…it was locked to Mac operation systems. It was a closed environment. Sketch still made designers work in somewhat of a silo. Because if we didn’t use a plugin (e.g. Craft) to upload our designs to InVision & to build a prototype, then no one could see what we’re working on.
When Figma came along, it filled numerous gaps and solved many issues we had with Sketch.
Figma made collaboration easy.
Suddenly, our work wasn’t locked away…we could invite colleagues, developers, PMs, BAs, clients, and any interested party to our files. They could leave a comment. We could reply.
Figma made async collaboration easy.
And most importantly, regardless of a designer’s preferred op system, everyone was able to use it. Because not all designers design on Macs… we could finally collaborate with our designer buddies who wanted to use Windows computers.
Let’s be fair, Adobe did have an attempt to accommodate designers wanting to use different operating systems. But somehow, Adobe XD just didn’t stick. At least not as much as Figma.
Figma created a community. It provided a playground for designers to publish their work for others to see and adapt.
Many Sketch users made the shift easily because Figma provided a pretty good file conversion with an easy drag-n-drop-n-convert feature. It was a breeze.
So yes, Figma was special.
Was it, really?
People are motivated by money. Even though the founders had the best intentions, they must have had an exit strategy.
I don’t know anyone personally at Figma, so I’m only guessing here. But as someone who had a business before and who’s also building a small design business, I do have an exit strategy involving money.
We don’t know what the founders wanted…so perhaps this was all part of the plan. Even if it wasn’t, things change. Perhaps their priorities have changed.
Hands on heart…What would you have done? Would you have said no to $20 billion?
For example, I could do so many good things for the planet and animals if I had $20 billion…
This news should serve as a reminder that designers shouldn’t rely on one tool.
We shouldn’t be complacent about our processes, tools, and software we use.
Let’s not put all of our eggs in one basket. Translation: let’s not put our whole design career into one design tool.
I understand designers always have emotions about their preferred toolset, but change is inevitable. Design tools come and go.
If you’ve been in the tech industry for a while, we have heard of many acquisitions…which turned out just fine. Or even great innovations have been introduced, e.g., Microsoft & GitHub, Salesforce & Slack. I know, I know the development tools are different than design tools. I can see some people rolling their eyes…yes, I am aware.
I find it’s better to be optimistic than pessimistic about the situation because it’ll still happen regardless of our attitude to the fact.
My hope for Figma under the Adobe umbrella is that the Figma team can keep working on the vision & execute the roadmap they had in mind.
Let’s hope this acquisition means Figma gets even more resources.
Let’s hope Adobe will listen to Figma users (us, designers), try to accommodate our feature requests, and innovate.
So, let’s not jump to a negative conclusion yet.
Let’s trust Adobe that they’ll do things right and won’t take our good thing away.
After all, Adobe is here to make even more money, so it’d be silly to kill Figma. It’s in Adobe’s best interest to make Figma good and try to keep its popularity.
But in the meantime, it never hurts to try out other design software…