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When we first started Figma in 2012, we made the difficult decision to focus on digital design. Back then other tools were bloated with artifacts from the print era that made interface design needlessly complicated. We wanted Figma to be the opposite — easy, intuitive, and fast.
We had to make sacrifices to keep that laser-focus. We couldn’t put all of Figma’s powerful features on the surface level, because it would clutter the screen. We also needed to break the mold of old user flows, by creating faster more effective functionality (see: Vector Networks). Since we do things a little differently than other design tools, people practiced in the samurai arts of other programs can get tripped up. While the learning curve is slight, we’re still curious what designers change in their workflow when switching over.
On a recent call, Virta Health UX Engineer Dian Xiao gave us the low down on which Figma functionalities she struggled to understand in her early days using the product. On the off-chance other designers have the same questions, we layed out exactly how to find these four features below.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in. ## Use the scale tool to resize all properties, yep, all of ‘em
Most of us were taught how to keep an image’s aspect ratio ship-shape: Hold shift down while resizing. Did you know shift only secures the ratio for height and width? In Figma it’s actually the Scale Tool that keeps all object properties, like corner radii and stroke weight, proportionate. If you’re used to other design tools, this distinction might not be immediately obvious. In other design tools holding shift does the job.
To use the Scale Tool, hit the shortcut “K” while manipulating shapes. Or you can find it under the Move Tool dropdown menu — Figma normally defaults to the Move Tool.
When Dian first started using Figma, she was stumped as to how to manipulate a shape’s corner radii. Since then we’ve pumped up the UI to make it more intuitive for designers. We even added the infamous squircle corner smoothing effect.
To fuss with those corners, just click the box next the corner radius (see image above). Then you can specify a different value for every corner to make interesting shapes. Hit the ellipses and then you can smooth corners gradually.
Here are a few use cases for rounding corners of a shape:
To guide or not to guide, that is the question. Or it could be if you’re working on a wily icon that needs some straightening up. The ruler functionality perplexed Dian at first because back then you couldn’t drag guides out — only a full ruler. Since then, we’ve updated the UI so you can pull out those guides.
Typically our designers use guides because objects can easily snap to them, making them perfect for icons, presentations and illustrations. With guides you can align text and objects — it’s a simple, minimalist approach, especially if you haven’t already set up a grid system.
To make one, you’ll need to hit shift + r (shortcut) or select “Rulers” via the main dropdown menu under the View tab. Then you can click on either the horizontal or vertical ruler and drag out as many guides as your persnickety heart desires.
Noticed changes to your workflow after switching to Figma from a different design tool? Curious about why we built Figma’s UI the way that we did? Hit us up in the comments!