How we use Figma to empower the whole company

We recently switched over to Figma. And it's massively improved our design processes and collaboration. Here's how we've done it.
By Team member, 01/14/20205 minutes read

Designers are spoiled for choice. We’re now able to choose from an array of incredible design tools and software that help us to do our job with ease and produce the best work possible.

If you remember the days of designing in Photoshop (or even Fireworks 🤦‍♂️) you’ll know that times aren’t as tough as they used to be. These days it’s like picking from a deck of cards. (There aren’t 52 tools to choose from just yet, but we’re almost there).

Like many other Design teams, at Cuvva we recently left Sketch behind and adopted Figma as our design tool of choice. This meant a transition for the whole company – it’s a big commitment to drop a tool, and move everyone and every thing over. But we’re glad we did. (When it comes to the Sketch vs. Figma debate, our minds are firmly made up.)

Here’s why.

Back in the early days of Cuvva, Design was a small team that made up part of the wider product team – where everyone worked together closely as one. As Cuvva has grown, we’ve added a few different product teams, and moved to a structure where a Designer is embedded within each one.

So now we’re spread across different products and teams, working in different areas of the office, occasionally remote and not always nearby. Collaboration is key, and Figma enables collaboration like no other tool does.

So what is Figma used for?

If you’re not familiar with Figma, it’s a cloud-based design tool. It’s similar to Sketch in terms of functionality, except it’s a web app that can run in the browser. Or on pretty much any operating system as a standalone app. It allows designers, engineers and content writers to work on the same file, at the same time.

Figma vs. Sketch

Now I know what you’re thinking. Is it worth the switch? When it comes to the Sketch vs. Figma debate, our minds are firmly made up. Sketch is a tool that has been around a couple more years and made a name for itself in the design world.

The first thing that comes to mind is collaboration – something we don’t always think about when we think of that infamous golden diamond. But with Figma, you get real-time collaboration for everyone – from designers to engineers. It’s so easy – multiple team members can work on the same file simultaneously with little to zero friction. You can see exactly what your team mates are working on. There’s even a feature that lets you follow their cursor and screen.

Sketch is, in some ways, one-dimensional. It’s file-based, with potentially multiple sources of truth, relying on a lot of user admin.

Another huge difference is the accessibility. Sketch was an Apple-only product. But with Figma, no MacBook is no problem. There’s no need to install any software, save and maintain files, or continuously upload and share. Everything is pretty much all in one place – and can be accessed on any device with just an internet connection.

So here’s why we took the leap.

Collaboration within the team…

At a glance, I can see what everyone else is working on, all before our weekly team update or show and tell. This means the time we spend in these meetings can be used more effectively – to give each other deep, actionable feedback on our work – not just to tell each other what we’re doing.

And because there’s very little admin required with Figma to synchronise with other designers, we save even more time that we can put to better use. Gone are the days of saving Sketch, syncing with Github or Abstract, pushing an update, and pulling the changes, all before seeing what a fellow designer has been working on. This also removes the need for additional prototyping tools such as InVision or Marvel.

… even as it grows

Figma makes life easier for our content team, too. Content designers are the wordsmiths of our product. With Figma, they can work with the designers at every stage, from wire-framing through to the final, signed-off design.

They can work in exactly the same place as the designer, at exactly the same time, creating the humanised copy that brings the app screes to life and helps guide our customers seamlessly through the insurance journey.

No more Google docs with blocks of content completely out of context, or Slack messages in a thread that eventually get lost. It’s now easier than ever before. The best part though; Content Designers can see live updates of designs as they happen, so they can start writing the copy before the Design work is even done.

Working seamlessly with engineers

How many times has an Engineer asked for a screenshot or the file of the screens you’re designing? Screenshots get buried in Slack threads. Files get lost in the downloads folder. It becomes harder and harder to keep up with the latest Design iteration as time goes on. All Engineers – Backend, iOS, and Android – have access to Figma including all up-to-date screens and projects, making it super easy for them to find the project they’re working on.

We’ve adopted this new method of collaboration, changing our habits along the way to improve the efficiency when working together. Thanks to Figma, thoughts and feedback is simply collected all within one space, through comments or notes.

Supporting our COps

To provide the best and quickest support, Customer Operations (or COps) must know the ins-and-outs of the product like the back of their hands. The chat tool we use, Intercom, shows us the most recent journey that the customer has taken in the app before reaching out. Our COps can see roughly what screen the customer is looking at, and then easily find these screens in Figma in our Screen Library – where we’ve create a home for all live screens in the app. Now, COps know almost exactly what screen the customer would’ve been looking at during the time, for added clarity and an even greater possibility for a more accurate solution.

TL;DR

Too long; didn’t read? Everyone at Cuvva is empowered to use Figma to do their job through collaborative transparency.

What the future holds in Figma is out of our hands, but we can try and contribute as users. In an ideal world, we’d like to see the Figma team explore ways to export SVGs in a tidy way for using on the web, and to support illustration work, and remove the need for additional software such as Illustrator. And even more-so, as we develop our Design System across the product, having a way to keep everyone updated with changes, with Tokens, and documenting versions to make sure the teams are aware of both pending and live changes to the system, so the whole organisation remains in sync.

While we wait on those, we can simply say that Figma has given Cuvva a clear and easy way for teams to work together, and a much more efficient way of working. We’re excited to see where it takes us next.

If you’re interested in this way of working, feel free to take a look at our open roles on our careers page. Help us build the future of insurance, and the way it should be!

Team member

Team member

Cuvva is authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. (#690273)