Switching from Sketch to Figma: What to Consider

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posted by Tram Nguyen
on Jul 22, 2019

Though I was aware of Figma’s newly released features earlier this year, it was only recently when I started experiencing issues with the Sketch App (Sketch) that I started considering switching over. Working as a solo designer in Sketch is perfectly fine with me, but when it came to including the team, sharing files, and managing the design system, that was a whole other story. I’ve shared my experience with both apps below, hoping it may help you decide which UX/UI tool suits your needs best.

My SketchApp Complications and How Figma Solved Those Concerns

As a Mac-user, I have used Sketch as the primary tool for designing UI/UX and product layouts from the beginning. It provides unlimited plugin library, and productively symbols blow me off at all scale. However, when my design team has grown larger and we on-boarded some non-Mac users, I changed my mind completely of how Sketch performs.

1. Sketch plugins crash with different Mac operating systems

Problem:

  • Sketch has a massive library of plugins, all of which make generating guidelines and styles easier. However, it is hard to make use of all of them, and it can become difficult to even remember what all those plugins can do for you.
  • If you are working with the latest version of Sketch and you have applied third-party plugins, then those plugins could be gone with scattered text and unlinked symbols if other designers open the files without also installing or updating the same plugins used. Just like that, all your hard work can be lost.

Solution:

  • Figma uses cloud-based storage, so everyone can open the same file with the latest version. This helps my team concentrate on the task at hand since they aren’t having to waste their time with crashing issues
  • Figma has NO plugins at this time, but you can upload screens to Zeplin and Avocode, or you can share links directly
Sketch Plugins break with different versions of MacOS

2. Creating design guidelines

Problem:

  • Preparing a design system for products in Sketch consumes most of my time; duplicating the same styles with different colors, fonts, and alignments for each symbol and labeling each with a name is both time-consuming and boring
  • You have to use many plugins to manage and rename labels, and the task seems to never end at times. If you use a wrong character, for example, you will never see that label in the Symbol dropdown list
  • Sketch works by using a hierarchical organization method from the right toolbar, which causes me difficulty and costs me time when I override the real data
Design System in Sketch (left) and Figma (right)
Design System in Sketch (left) and Figma (right)

Solution:

  • Figma simplifies the process of creating a design system. With the newly updated features, you can change and switch between components in Figma just like with Symbols in Sketch.
  • Editing in real-layout now seems easier to me than it had before. You can pick exactly the text or layer and customize it with full options.
  • Updating components in Figma is less work than with Symbols in Sketch because Figma only allows you to create one master component and multiple branched components. Whenever you want to update the master one, you simply click on “To Edit” and you do not have to worry about duplicating the same components while navigating the layout.
Edit and replace content in Sketch (left) and Figma (right)
Edit and replace content in Sketch (left) and Figma (right)


3. Hand-off design to developers

Problem

  • Before we migrated to Figma, we used Zeplin to present designs to devs, PMs, and even to clients for review and comments. As part of the scope of work, designers had to upload the screens into Zeplin using the same names and tags as compared to the artboards on Sketch for updating purposes. Unfortunately, Zeplin currently doesn’t support deleted screens, so every client comment on a deleted screen is lost and cannot be restored.
Client's view in Sketch (left) and Figma (right)
Client’s view in Sketch (left) and Figma (right)

Solution:

  • Developers just need to log into the same file and check the CSS code. If they need an asset, they can simply click on that image or icon and export it directly.
  • In Figma, the client can be shown a Prototype view instead of a Designer view, which is helpful since the latter likely has distracting items and works-in-progress visible. The con for Figma’s Prototype view is its slow animation, which needs to be linked by a UI/UX designer before viewing. In my opinion, the Figma team should consider adding a Client view separate from the views used by designers and developers.


Comparison

For a transparent comparison of the two tools, check out the table below:

Sketch and Figma Comparison

Final result

When deciding what solution would be best for my team in the long-term, Figma was my ultimate choice. It is familiar to me since it is similar to Sketch, but it is far easier to navigate and therefore won me over. After introducing the team to Figma, I noticed the below improvements:

  • For creating and handling design system files, 10 hours in Sketch was reduced to 2 hours in Figma; 5x faster
  • Without having to move work from Sketch to Zeplin, I was 2x faster in providing work to project managers and clients
  • When considering what is on offer for designers, devs, and PMs, we now pay 50% less for UI/UX design tools per year

Figma is updating its features in the near future, and I believe they will surpass Sketch’s downloads in 2019 if Sketch doesn’t commit any significant changes.

I hope you found this article helpful and that you’ll consider Figma for your team’s UI/UX design tool.

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