Figma: Meet us in the browser

December 16, 2020

Dylan Field, co-founder of Figma, writing about the company’s five year anniversary of launching on the web:

We didn’t realize that launching Figma was heresy, a generational assault on top-down, siloed models of decision making and a challenge to the identity of many designers. While some immediately understood the potential of building design software in the browser, our vision elicited an immediate and negative reaction from others. Some even told us that if this was the future of design, they were changing careers.

I remember when I first heard about Figma. It was at a Layers conference a few years ago and I thought the concept was cool, but wasn’t going to go anywhere. First: shows what I know, Figma is incredibly popular right now. And second: good for them. This is an amazing feat. I love companies that push the web forward and dream big when it comes to how we can all use it.

Initially I didn’t understand the negative reactions to Figma’s closed beta launch. I only saw the obvious benefits: a single source of truth for files, cross platform support, and multiplayer editing. Now I understand that the power of the browser lies in the broader cultural change it delivers — and this change can be scary. The browser is natively multiplayer. It forces a mindset shift on access. It strips away the need for expensive hardware. And it pushes us to embrace working together, especially when we are blocked and our default might be to hide.

This is the key. Recently I switched my workflow from Sketch to Figma as well. It’s just easier to collaborate with other folks on a project, share prototypes, and get feedback in the form of comments. It’s not perfect, but it’s getting better all of the time.