Figma just dropped a ton of new features. I have been trying them out (building a new design system) and I am mostly impressed. However, they are very different, so every designer out there should set aside a few hours to become familiar with them. Here is a quick review, but I suggest finding videos about them.
Autolayout, Figma changed the most in this area. For a long time, there was confusion about when to use constraints and when to use autolayout. It seems more like a unified system now.
I love the new absolute positioning button. It’s actually making me use autolayout more often. The ability to put borders on only 2-3 sides of a rectangle is also greatly appreciated. There are some new animation options and I do like them, especially “Gentle”. I haven’t used the negative spacing for anything in particular. It seems like a feature meant solely for the avatar circles. I also haven’t tried the ellipses text, but I can imagine using it.
One exciting new feature is the properties on a component. They really do a nice job of letting the user configure a component for various uses. I made a new Tree component with all of these changes it it works pretty well.
Being a power user
Not everyone thinks being an advanced user of Figma is important. As I have mentioned numerous times in this blog, the details matter. You can dramatically improve your ability to convey your ideas to product management and engineering if you are designing quicker and showing your designs in prototypes, not the canvas. The ability to move faster means you can iterate more and improve your designs.
When I interview a designer, I often ask them to design with me in Figma. I am looking to see if they are taking it seriously and if they know their tool. I tried this with a designer I am mentoring to make a simple progress bar.
Design challenge: Progress Bar
The requirements were that you needed to have a single component that you can “easily” edit the length of the progress on the instance. I also made it so you can have right-left or left-right variants.
It’s really simple, three layers per variant. However, it is much more difficult than you might imagine. There are several ways to mess it up. I made it so the text in the last layer controls how much progress is displayed. Each character is about 10% of the whole. Try it yourself. Let me know if you have questions.