Inside Figma: tips from the team that builds Figma

A few weeks back, we asked ten Figmates across engineering, product, design, and research to share what they love most about Figma, including their favorite use cases and tricks. During a recent livestream, they walked through speed tips and keyboard shortcuts, brainstorming exercises, and their most-used templates — all in five minutes or less. You can check out the full video below, or read on for curated tips on the unexpected ways we use Figma:

One of the questions we get asked most is “How do Figmates use Figma?” The short answer is: for almost everything. Beyond product design, we all rely on Figma to do everything from team-building exercises to remote research.

As Aaron Tesfai, an engineer on the prototyping team, says, “My favorite thing about Figma the product is that it caters to a variety of skillsets.” While designer advocates Anthony DiSpezio and Miguel Cardona demystify blend modes and easing curves in the livestream, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite use cases that make Figma more approachable to everyone, regardless of skill level or design experience. 

Getting into a state of flow

Brand designer Remilla Ty shares brainstorming methods that the team uses to gather inspiration, explore different approaches, and collaborate together on creative work. 

Mind map sketchbook

The first method is the mind map sketchbook, a diagram used to visually organize information. The sketchbook is divided into three sections:

  • Prompt: the name of the project or a statement about the work
  • Image: a space for visuals that inspire you
  • Keywords: words or phrases related to the images you pulled, and how they map back to the prompt
The mind map sketchbook framework

This framework allows you to highlight themes, which then lead to creative concepts. The brand team at Figma used the framework when exploring directions for branding the Figma Community:

The mind map sketchbook in practice

As Remilla says, “There’s no yes or no, right or wrong.” It’s really about pulling inspiration and being open to exploring new directions.

Lists and mood boards

The second framework is lists and mood boards. The list (below) is divided into three sections:

  • Prompt: a literal explanation of what you’re working on
  • Beyond: a more abstract summary of the project
  • Look and feel: a description of what you want others to feel when they see it

Recently, the team explored a new direction for Maker Week:

The lists and mood boards framework in action

After completing the prompts, the team pulls themes and keywords onto a mood board. From there, they collect images and color palettes, which allows them to see how everything fits together. The final step is coming up with a concept statement that ultimately helps lead brand identity.

Mood board for Maker Week

With these methods, Remilla says, it’s not about worrying whether you’re on the right track, but about getting into a “state of flow,” where you can be your most creative. Plus, she says, it gives you insight into how your team is thinking about the project, and what’s top of mind for them. You can check out this file for the template that Remilla and the brand team use.

Making research more approachable

Researcher Nannearl Brown shares how her team runs exercises in Figma to make research feel a little less scary to participants. “We definitely want people who participate and share their information with us to feel comfortable,” she says. 

Figma trading cards

Before the research session begins, the team will often send out trading cards as pre-work that allows participants to share more about themselves and get them prepared for the research exercises. The fields ask about Figma — like their favorite feature and Figma use case — as well as more personal questions. Beyond helping the team learn more about research participants, trading cards also make the process feel a little less formal.

Trading cards that you can use for user research, or as a team-building exercise

Mad libs

During research, the team often wants to know how participants are using Figma, how often, and their feelings toward it. The mad libs exercise allows some structure, while also giving participants flexibility to talk about whatever is top of mind: 

Figma mad libs

In addition to how participants think about Figma — the words they use to fill in the blanks — the exercise allows the research team to observe them actually using Figma (and features like auto layout) live. In turn, researchers get valuable insight into participants’ experience and comfort level with Figma.

Beyond research, trading cards and mad libs can serve as team-building exercises as well, especially as so many of us continue to work remotely.

Sharing and presenting work

As a product manager at Figma, Emily Lin works quite cross-functionally and spends a lot of time synthesizing and sharing work with other teams. Whether it’s for team meetings or All Hands presentations, she — like many others at Figma — builds and shares presentations entirely in Figma. 

Slide decks

Slide decks are built using Figma’s prototyping functionality, starting with creating a frame. Each frame corresponds to a slide, and Figma reads the information left to right, top to bottom:

A look at how Emily structures slide decks in Figma

This layout allows you to see whether the colors, text, and spacing are all consistent, in addition to getting a sense for how things flow overall. “This is really helpful for just generally load-balancing the content and seeing if everything visually aligns,” Emily says.

Making avatars

If you’re presenting and want to give a shout-out to other teammates who worked on a project with you, you can create a circle avatar of your teammate’s photo to include on your slide. To create the avatar, adjust the corner radius — instead of calculating the exact corner radius, the value “999999” should make the picture snap to a circle.

Creating a circle avatar without calculating the corner radius

“I’m a very hacky Figma worker,” Emily says. It’s less about getting pixel perfect designs, and more about creating a framework for you to share work with your team. You can check out this file for more Figma tips for PMs (and a bonus slide template!).

For more tips and best practices from Figmates, check out the full video. You can see a list of all events and register for an upcoming livestream here .