FigJam for iPad: space to explore and ideate

Rob Bye
Product Manager, Figma

Available in Figma on the App Store, users across all FigJam plans can edit FigJam files on their iPad. Read on to learn why we built FigJam on iPad, the feedback that drove our approach, and how desktop and tablet go hand in hand.

Sometimes, no matter what you do, the desktop environment just isn’t conducive to a creative flow. With the constant stream of notifications and messages from other apps, it’s hard to stay absorbed in the work when you’re always a ping away from being pulled out of it.

The desktop demands this kind of endless context switching. Tablets, on the other hand, are optimized for focused engagement. A single app, filling the screen. They don’t ask you to constantly toggle between activities. They are built for actually doing just one thing, allowing you to unlock those increasingly elusive focus states. And since they’re as tactile and mobile as a notebook, you can jot down ideas and rough sketches wherever you go.

These qualities make the tablet, and iPad more specifically, conducive for iterating in FigJam, an online whiteboard to ideate solo or collaborate with your team. Together, they offer the space to sketch, explore, and iterate in a way that feels intuitive and natural.

Bringing Figma to tablet has always been something we’ve wanted to do—and something our users have asked for. Since the early days of Figma, we’ve seen designers using their pen pad to create more low fidelity sketches and annotations. But after introducing FigJam for the more exploratory phases of the design process, and seeing users gravitate to the marker, to the doodle, and to sketch, we understood that tablet is actually a great supplement to the FigJam experience on desktop.

When we looked at what people were using FigJam for and held that alongside what the tablet experience offers, we found that FigJam’s open space lends itself to the tactile nature of a tablet. As Jacques Krzepkowski, Staff Product Designer at Shopify, says, “I have this infinite canvas where I can draw early concepts and do freeform sketching.”

What has surprised us since launching the FigJam beta is just how fluidly users are moving between form factors and jamming on a variety of activities—both alone and together.

Embracing early ideas

Riffing on a new concept is nonlinear. Working in low fidelity allows you to tease out an idea, iterate, and go back to the drawing board, without focusing too much on the details or the end result. It also sets the right expectations when you share these ideas with others. A refined mockup can feel like an invitation to critique, while a rough sketch is more of a suggestion to build on together. As Bruno Figueiredo, Designer in Chief of OutSystems says, “I can pick up on my sketches and notes on my laptop later. It also lets me share my diagrams with others—I often encourage [people] to draw on top of my ideas.”

Making feedback more personal

Comments in a file shouldn’t be the only way to share feedback when you’re working async. Annotations allow you to circle, underline, and mark up words and sketches on the canvas. Ryan Dotson, Sr. Content Designer at 1Password, shares handwritten notes directly in the FigJam file, making feedback feel more like co-creation than critique. “It is a more personal way to approach feedback and brings a level of warmth to that process,” he says.

Running collaborative sessions

Using FigJam on your iPad doesn’t have to be limited to solo work—it can also be used to facilitate group working sessions. Huiwen Ji, Senior Product Designer at Shopify, likes to show a FigJam file on his large desktop display while using his iPad as a second screen for quick annotations, like circling a group of stickies or giving shout-outs in a meeting. “It just makes collaboration sessions feel more fluid and natural,” he says.

We are excited about this first foray into tablet editing, and are already thinking about how we can make low fidelity designing on tablet even richer and faster. While Figma on tablet is something we’re actively exploring, we think that FigJam on iPad will unlock even more opportunity to explore in the design workflow. If you have other ideas for how you’d like to use Figma and FigJam on tablet, please consider sharing your thoughts with us—we’d love to learn from you as we build what’s next.