Why we choose Figma over Sketch: Collaboration!

by: | Sep 22, 2020

I recently posted a question on our app design team’s Slack channel asking about the advantages of using Figma vs. Sketch. The thread went on for a while — our team members were pretty passionate in their support of Figma’s increasingly popular app UI design tool. As the thread was growing, I was thinking it might be great source material for a useful blog post. Initially, I imagined the title of the post could be something like, “12 reasons we use Figma over Sketch.”

But as I looked more closely at our design team members’ responses, there was really one constant theme: Collaboration.

Figma was designed for the cloud — meaning that every file, feature, comment, and change lives online. As we wrote recently (“Our top app design tools”), Figma “changed the game for us by moving real-time design into the cloud — and enabling true collaboration. Figma has done for UX and UI design what Google Docs did for general business productivity.”.

So, why is collaboration such an important part of app design? (Glad you asked! ?) In our 12 year history of building lovable apps, we’ve learned that building truly great products requires regular collaboration. Here are seven ways, in the words of our app designers, that Figma has helped us become more collaborative in our app design work:

1. Easy sharing

“Figma is the best choice because we can share links with a client and change things in real-time.” — Beatriz Beltrame

The days of emailing large files — and compressing those files so they don’t blow up inboxes — is mostly over. Figma makes it super simple to share links to a project’s stakeholders. That’s important in any kind of client work, but also crucial in the age of COVID-19, as many people are working remotely.

2. Collaborate across platforms

“Sketch is not even an option when clients use Windows or Chromebooks and we need to collaborate with them.”Vinicius Ramos

There is no Figma software to install; it works in browsers. That means our design team can share files with clients regardless of the platform they use. And they can view, comment, edit, and more from virtually any device and operating system.

3. Co-editing

“Using Sketch + Abstract is good for versioning, but it’s a pain if two people are working on the same file. Figma makes this simple.”Fabio Castro

Being able to work on the same file at the same time is fundamental to true collaboration. Without it, working as a team on a big project can be cumbersome and slow. As Fabio mentions, a tool called Abstract helps bring Sketch files into the cloud — but it fails when multiple people are accessing the same file at the same time.

4. Problem-solving

“We also use Figma for some design jam sessions where three or four designers work together on a file to solve one problem.”Heloisa Munaretto

One of the biggest benefits of working on a team is having multiple brains available to solve a problem. Being able to work together, in real-time, on files that live in the cloud helps us get past thorny challenges quickly — and accelerate projects.

5. Version control

“With Sketch, we used to have a lot of version control issues with syncing files with multiple users. It’s much better with Figma.”Eduardo Zmievski

In app design, version control is key. It gets more complex when you have big project teams with clients all collaborating in the design process. We need a source file that lives in the cloud, in a single place, and is the only version that is ever seen, reviewed, and updated. Figma excels at this.

6. Capturing and consolidating feedback

“Everyone can jump in and leave comments in one place.”Heloisa Munaretto

Getting feedback is an important part of our design process — followed by, of course, acting on that feedback. Sometimes, though, synthesizing feedback is challenging — especially when feedback is coming from multiple places. Figma allows us to capture all feedback in one single place. It also allows reviewers to respond to each other, and the feedback itself evolves, which can further help designers determine how to act on it.

7. Crash-proof

“Figma is a major advantage for distracted designers who start working and forget to save their files. If Figma crashes, your work will be there when you reopen it. If Sketch crashes, you lose all unsaved work.”Ricardo Machado

We all get distracted. Sometimes, we forget to save our work when we step away from our computers. With Figma, you don’t need to worry about that, as the cloud files are updated just as soon as you make changes.

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But what about all those Sketch plugins?

If you’ve read this far, you now understand more about why we use Figma for most of our app design projects these days, instead of Sketch.

There is, however, one good reason many designers still use Sketch. Sketch has a universe of plug-ins available that extend its capabilities. It’s been around for 10 years, and external developers have added some nifty features.

Launched in 2016, Figma is behind in this area, but catching up in two different ways. First, the growing Figma community has now created hundreds of plugins. Also, Figma has some native features that Sketch has left for the community to build. E.g. We mentioned that Abstract is a way to bring Sketch to the cloud and help with version control. Figma, of course, is natively cloud-based.

Another example is prototyping. Sketch has recently added lightweight prototyping but historically relied on plug-ins like InVision’s Craft and Mockplus to deliver prototype capabilities.

Figma has built-in prototyping, including one of our favorite tools, Smart Animate. This feature allows you to create transitions between screens and build an actual prototype that feels like the final product.

A couple of other useful built-in Figma features we love:

  • Presentations: We created some presentations for a client meeting recently using Figma. We were able to use the exact same assets we were designing for the app within the presentation — no exporting files or copying/pasting. There’s also a nice zoom feature in presentation mode, something other slideware applications are missing.
  • Screen mirroring: Figma Mirror (for iOS and Android) allows you to mirror the screens you’re working on in another device — all via Wi-Fi.

All that said, we’re not (totally) done with Sketch

So why not do everything in Figma? If we were working on our own, completely independently of the design ecosystem around us, we would. But as we mentioned in our post about our app design stack, some of our clients prefer Sketch. However, we’ve seen that more of our clients are converting to Figma for the same we have: collaboration.

Need help with app design?

If you need advice about choosing between Figma or Sketch, or help with app UX/UI design, contact us. Our world-class app designers and developers have been delivering mobile experiences for some of the world’s most influential companies since the dawn of the app store.