Introducing: Design Dictionary from Figma

Much like cultures and countries, professional industries have their own unique languages. Specialized terminology gives experts a way to define and discuss their work, but it can also intimidate and confuse new entrants to the field.

Design has a particularly dense vocabulary, forged through a long history of art, printmaking, and publishing. As in other areas, designers are hyper focused on the details, resulting in an array of terms for everything from usability to typography.

Today, we’re excited to share a new resource for learning all this design-related jargon—our Design Dictionary. Whether you’re just getting started as a designer or you work alongside them, we hope you can use this glossary to master the basics.

In the golden era of digital interfaces, everyone across an organization touches design. Engineers turn designs into production ready code, copy editors add language to frames, stakeholders approve designs, product managers conduct the whole shebang. It’s difficult for people in these roles to work cross-functionally if they aren’t speaking the same language.

We saw this first hand at Figma after hiring staff from a wide range of specialties — business, analytics, support, engineering and more — who didn’t necessarily have backgrounds in design.

To strengthen communication, we built this dictionary. It’s a work in progress — we’re launching with 70 terms — but we decided to open source it for the community in case others find it useful. We plan to expand it as time goes on (and the industry evolves).

To build a truly comprehensive resource, we need your help: What terms have made design collaboration challenging on your team? Are there certain words (like White Space, Stroke, or Lorem Ipsum) that contribute to extra confusion? When do people use design vocabulary incorrectly?

Click the link at the bottom of the dictionary to suggest new ideas and additions and help us flesh out the site.