Figma is Google Docs for App Designers

December 24, 2015 - 3 minutes read

Google Docs has been a part of the app developer toolbox for almost ten years now. The real-time editing, team collaboration, version control and commenting features all enabled by a cloud-based web app structure have revolutionized businesses from Mom-n-Pop storefronts to London mobile app development companies.

…So what’s holding up the cloud revolution for other critical app development areas like graphics, UI and UX design?

Enter Figma, the ambitious design collaboration tool on a course to compete with Adobe’s Creative Cloud system. Co-founded by Dylan Field, a young and ambitious developer who recently acquired $18 million in funding to take Figma to the next level and move beyond their current free preview program for interested teams (mostly in the web and app development industries).

While several other graphic collaboration tools have cropped up in the past couple years, Figma is unique in the breadth of their planned services. While tools like Wake and Zeplin facilitate sharing ideas and visuals, Figma’s goal is to ultimately have real-time cloud-based collaboration on graphics documents — essentially, Google Docs for app designers and app developers.

Adobe “doesn’t understand collaboration,” Field told reporters at TechCrunch, before going on to suggest that the Creative Cloud design industry standard is “cloud in name only.”

And Field has a great point. App developers are finicky about their workflows for a reason: a single efficiency like in-app communication can add up to hundreds of hours of saved time, which in the high-cost app development industry translates to tens of thousands in savings for both developers and their clients.

The current app development framework can feel a little clunky when it comes to design; most of the actual work happens on a designer’s hard drive, meaning that any changes and tweaks to app interfaces, icon sets and the like have to wait for several rounds of communication before any progress can be made: email chains, Slack chats, and piles of proofs to wade through.

Figma’s plan to solve this problem with real-time collaboration and version control for cloud-based editing is ambitious but inevitable. Will Figma be the David that knocks out Adobe’s goliath? App developers everywhere are certainly hoping so.

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