Figma feature highlight: Observation Mode

Valerie Veteto

At Figma we suspect some of our small (but mighty!) power features go unnoticed. In fact, after prodding our Twitter community this week, several users were surprised to learn we have a little something called “Observation Mode.” We’re going to highlight more of these semi-secret use cases on the blog and figured Observation Mode was a good place to start.

This feature is 🔥 for doing design critiques, getting feedback from clients and running user tests.

Here’s the rundown: If more than one person is looking at a Figma file, then you can click on any face in the upper right hand corner. Similar to screen sharing, your screen will mirror everything they see on theirs. You’ll see each movement they make, from updating text in a frame to clicking their cursor on an object and expanding it. As you’d imagine, this feature is 🔥for doing design critiques, getting feedback from clients and running user tests.

Anyone can access observation mode in a Figma file as long as sharing for that particular file or project is enabled (even those with view only access). So, make sure you’re ok with being watched before you share a design URL.

If sharing is enabled for that design file, anyone can use observation mode (even those with view-only access).

There are many, many ways for a designer to wield this tool. Rather thanlisting them in all of their glory ourselves, we thought we’d “show” through our users’ tweets rather than “tell.”

Study user testing in real time

Instead of gathering anecdotal evidence after the fact, simply click on a user’s avatar while they’re moving through a prototype in Figma. This way you’ll be able to see exactly where their pain points and hesitations occur.

Bypass remote communication woes

As remote work grows in popularity, A/V issues become increasingly problematic. Our most common workaround, other than turning devices on/off, is to use Figma’s observation mode instead of screensharing on Google Hangouts. Call your co-worker via audio, observe their screen in Figma and voila! A near foolproof way to collaborate from afar.

Sync stakeholders on internal design critiques

Rather than gesturing at a projector while Larry from Amsterdam tries to decipher what the heck you’re pointing at, in Observation Mode you can calmly walk all stakeholders through a design in real-time, regardless of their time zone.

Learn the patterns of your students’ pitfalls

Did you know Figma is free for students? When we spoke to Shana Hu, a former TA for a UC Berkeley design class, she explained how Figma transformed her experience as an educator. “They could leave comments for students in context of the design, compared to previous tools, when they’d have to give feedback en masse over email or other applications.”

Assess a user’s experience by observing via a low-end monitor

What better way to quality check than to literally see what a user sees? Most people don’t work off the fancy $2000 Macs favored by Silicon Valley designers. To truly understand the user experience, you should see things through their (hardware) perspective.

Host your next presentation in Observation Mode

True to nature, we always present in Figma during our All Hands meetings. Whether going over OKR slides or learning about the latest team project, our remote employees can stay properly synced to the presentation slide by observing the local speaker.

Explore your voyeuristic side 🔭

Are you digging these extended Figma Tips? Which of Figma’s power features deserves the spotlight next? Let us know in the comments!