🎯 How Figma defined the modern designer

The user-centric product playbook

Read time: 2 minutes 46 seconds

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"Design is not just how something looks and feels, it's also how it works and how it fits into people's lives" — Tony Fadell, leader of Apple’s original iPod and iPhone divisions.

It’s common to continuously layer features to help users do their job better, faster, more accurately etc.

An opportunity to ponder: expanding functionality through features that serve your users before and after they have used your product.

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How Figma defined the modern designer

Chess Move

The what: A TLDR explanation of the strategy

It’s 2012, and Adobe’s trifecta (Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign) occupy ~99% mindshare in the world of design software.

Feature-packed and heavy-duty, they did their core job extremely well: Create designs.

The flipside — to use them, you had to:

  • Pay a multi-thousand-dollar fixed fee upfront

  • Install locally on a high-spec machine

  • Scale the steep learning curve

Enter: Figma.

A cloud-native app with an ambitious goal: Don't just serve the design, serve the modern designer.

💡 Strategy Playbook: Build a product that serves not just a user persona’s work, but the work around the work.

At it’s core, Figma isn’t about pixels. It’s about people.

Here’s 3x ways they do it.

Breakdown

The how: The strategic playbook boiled down to 3x key takeaways

1: Elevating ‘Designing’ to ‘DesignOps’

Figma makes it easy to create eye-popping visuals.

It also makes it easy to:

  • Get feedback on elements

  • Build workflows and automations

  • Prototype designs as clickable demos

  • Iterate through requirements and versions

  • Let multiple designers collaborate in real-time

  • Create shared resources, libraries, and templates

They isolated every possible friction point in a designer’s journey from ‘idea’ to ‘publish’, and made them easier.

2: Inclusive by Design

The old way:

  • Designs are only worked on by designers

  • No license key or fancy hardware? See you on launch day

The new way:

  • Got a browser? Here’s the project link.

  • Just here to view / comment? You’re a free ‘Viewer’ user type.

Figma built the Google Docs for Design - any stakeholder on any device can hop into a project with just a URL.

Zero barrier to entry. Tight feedback loops. Design becomes a team sport.

3: Culture of Continuous Improvement

Figma embeds an opinionated philosophy in its tools: designers should think critically, get feedback iteratively, and improve continuously.

Integrated resources, webinars, tutorials, tooltips, plugins, and community-driven content turn Figma into more than just a technical solution for organisations.

Buying Figma is buying a promise that your design craft will mature.

Rabbit Hole

The where: 3x high-signal resources to learn more

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