The context of prototyping has never been as high profile, thanks to a whole range of tools available now that give you varying abilities to realize your designs beyond the static UIs and into a real working usable thing that you can use. It is fair to say that prototyping within tools has been a bit of a battle, with some UI tools offering basic prototyping on top of their existing drawing features, while others offer an advanced but specialized set of prototyping features to enable designers to create more realistic experiences based on their existing drawing features.
Figma is a fully-fledged design creation tool that has some prototyping capabilities. Its prototyping features allow you to do basic clickthroughs with some nice simple motion design capabilities. It is a great tool for prototyping UX/UI designs. It allows you to create interactive flows directly in the design file with advanced, yet easy-to-use features. In just a few minutes, you can turn your static designs into a realistic version of your website or product. Creating prototypes is important for many reasons. You can explore how new user flows will work, communicate interactions to your team, test and get feedback from your users, and pitch designs to stakeholders for buy-in.
What is Figma
Figma is a web-based graphics editing and user interface design app. You can use it to do all kinds of graphic design work from wireframing websites, designing mobile app interfaces, prototyping designs, crafting social media posts, and everything in between. It is different from other graphics editing tools because it works directly on your browser, which means that you get to access your projects and start designing from any computer or platform without having to buy multiple licenses or install the software.
Another reason why designers love this app is that Figma offers a generous free plan where you can create and store three active projects at a time. It is more than enough for you to learn, experiment, and work on small projects.
Figma has a very beginner-friendly editor where you can create designs from scratch or use pre-made templates. There are plenty of resources for learning how to use Figma. The website works on any operating system that runs a web browser. Macs, Windows PCs, Linux machines, and even Chromebooks can be used with Figma. It is the only design tool of its type that does this, and in shops that use hardware running different operating systems, everyone can still share, open, and edit its files.
By using Figma, a design lead can check in to see what the team is designing in real time by simply opening a shared file. If a designer somehow misinterprets the brief or user story, this feature allows the design lead to intervene, correct course, and save countless hours that would have otherwise been wasted.
Prototyping in Figma
In this section, we will go over some of the basics of prototyping before we get into Figma prototyping.
Prototyping is an experimental process where design teams implement ideas into tangible forms from paper to digital. Teams build prototypes of varying degrees of fidelity to capture design concepts and test them on users. With prototypes, you can refine and validate your designs so your brand can release the right products.
The advantages of prototyping are that you have a solid foundation from which to ideate towards improvements, by giving all stakeholders a clear picture of the potential benefits, risks, and costs associated with where a prototype might lead. Also, it can adapt changes early, thereby avoiding commitment to a single, falsely-ideal version, getting stuck on local maxima of UX, and later incurring heavy costs due to oversights. Lastly, it lets you show the prototype to your users so they can give you their feedback to help pinpoint which elements or variants work best and whether an overhaul is required.
Insight on Figma Prototyping
Here, we will present some things that you need to do to make great prototypes with Figma.
To prototype in Figma, you have to select the Prototype tab located in the right-hand contextual panel. Prototyping mode reveals little circular nodes on each frame and nested frame. These nodes are what you use to connect structures together to allow you to create the interactions in between.
Figma has a special After Delay interaction which allows you to trigger animations automatically when the frame loads rather than by a user-generated interaction such as a button tap. This is useful as it allows me to ‘daisy-chain’ many frames together to achieve a seamless animation. To connect two frames you can click and drag the frame node from the first frame to the second or choose the destination frame in the Interaction sub-panel within the Prototype.
Each page in your Figma file can have one or many prototypes flows. Each one needs to have its starting point and unique name. Select the first frame you wish to appear in your flow and click the "Add" icon next to "Flow Starting Point". Once it is added, rename the flow by clicking on the name input. Add a description by clicking the "Edit" icon next to the flow name. To remove the starting point click the "Delete" icon next to "Flow Starting Point"
Moreover, interactions are the primary feature used when building a prototype. Use them to show different behaviors, effects, and navigational patterns. They work by connecting two layers, then determining how those layers will interact with each other by adding a trigger, action, and animation. Interactions can be simple with instate animations. Or they can be more complex with animated elements that move or change properties. A trigger is an event that causes a change. Action is the change that is happening. In the last place, an animation is known as the behavior of the change.
If you want to start prototyping, then Figma is undoubtedly one of the best tools to do it. If you follow these guidelines, you will learn what to do about it and in a near future, you will become a better designer than you are today.