Design and prototyping on a Windows computer
Both Figma and Adobe XD are newer, lightweight design/prototyping tools that claim to capture the needs of a full design process, from visual design →prototyping →handoff.
Let’s see how they compare:
Highlights of Figma
If the future of design tools is team based, Figma is leading the way with it’s collaboration features. I find that for more complex projects, there is a lot of handoff between different designers. Rather than saving over someone else’s file, it would be a lot more organized/efficient if we can just work on the same file, at the same time.
Here’s some things that work well:
- If a PM can check in on the progress of a doc as I’m working on something else, without one of us being kicked out of the file.
- Specs will be generated in the browser.
- Being browser based = faster critique with remote teams/designers.
- Automatic version control — Figma doesn’t need you to save constantly, and you can always go back to an older version of the file to do more explorations.
- Presentation mode is made possible with Figma Mirror.
Room for improvement:
When updating components, there isn’t a clear indication of who made the change.
There’s also no one to tag the version history, so it may be difficult to go back to a version of the design apart from going in to view each past file version.
It seems that the Prototyping mode only has basic screen linking…hopefully this will change in the future.
Highlights of XD
As XD is part of the Adobe family, it’s connected to other Adobe applications. So importing your files from illustrator/Photoshop is possible if you save the file as an SVG. There will be times you want to use image/photo editing in Photoshop, or icon creation in Illustrator and have a smooth workflow between your tools.
- XD feels clean and very fast. There’s not a lot of lag even in large files.
- Repeat grid is a time saver for creating multiple visual elements and adding adjustments for spacing and data from text files.
- Assets panel looks promising, to either allow saved styles or export the panel as a style guide.
Room for improvement:
Lacking grids/constraints — a basic resource for digital layouts.
Does not generate specs, something that would be useful for completing the design process loop.
XD has prioritized features out for the Mac version, so unfortunately it’s been fewer updates/features for Windows users.
Both are promising and have delivered a lot of updates in the last few months. I would like to see how each integrates with other plugins to enhance areas where they aren’t particularly strong in (such as prototyping or delivering design mocks for research).