The world of creative technology has been buzzing ever since the recent news that industry giant Adobe has acquired Figma.
But, what exactly is Figma, what has the road to success been like for the famous company, and what might this purchase mean for Figma and its users?
Let’s take a look!
What is Figma?
Figma is a web-based graphics editing and user interface design app. With it, users can collaborate seamlessly on all sorts of important tasks.
This includes things like wireframing websites, designing mobile app interfaces, creating social media posts, prototyping designs, and more.
What separates Figma from many of the other graphics editing tools available is that it works directly on your browser. This means that users can access projects and start working from any computer or platform without needing to buy numerous licenses or install software.
As its own company, Figma offered a very generous free plan, which also set it apart from many other apps. Users can create and store 3 active projects at once.
This gave users more than enough space to learn, experiment, and work on small projects entirely for free.
A Brief Company History of Figma
Figma is widely considered to be a huge underdog story and a massive success. Even before the news broke that Adobe is buying the company, Figma was widely used and respected. We have even been using it here at Chop Dawg for quite some time!
Figma was founded by Dylan Field in 2016 with the mission of making digital design accessible to everyone through its API.
In 2016, one of Figma’s main innovations was that it empowered collaborative work. Even today, there are many graphics editors available, but many still only allow one person access only.
As most design is worked on collaboratively in a team environment, this is simply not that useful. According to Figma founder, Dylan Field:
“We saw that even though the design is inherently collaborative, popular design tools were single-player and offline at the time.”
Over the years, Figma has grown rapidly. It has had over a thousand updates and is currently used by over 4 million people and 13,000 businesses including ours. It is also used by large tech industry companies like Slack, Rakuten, and Dropbox.
Over the past few years, Dylan Field went from a computer science apprentice to the CEO of a company that was acquired by Adobe for $20 Billion.
Figma Was One of Adobe’s Biggest Rivals
Some are of the opinion that Adobe bought Figma simply to take it out of the running as one of its biggest rivals in the market.
Figma was one of the strongest competitors out there when it came to Adobe XD, Adobe’s own UX and UI design application. Figma offers premium features for free, like real-time collaboration and browser-based accessibility.
Essentially, Figma has innovated seamless teamwork via almost any device for free and Adobe has not really been able to keep up.
Also, as with any large company, Adobe has its share of fans and detractors. Some longtime Figma fans are less than thrilled by the Adobe acquisition.
Will Adobe Kill Figma?
Designers are incredibly concerned that Adobe will either leave Figma active, but degrade the quality and usability, or get rid of it entirely. Jared Spool, an analyst who studies user experience design strategy at Center Centre told The Verge:
“There’s a lot of concern here that they’ll harvest Figma for some cool ideas, integrate those into their existing products in a half-assed way, then bury Figma to gain back the subscriptions they lost when it was free.”
Also, many feel that Figma is simply a better company that produces products that function at a higher level than Adobe, so they don’t have much faith in Adobe to maintain the quality of Figma.
According to Juan Buis, an independent UX designer who has previously worked with Spotify and Minecraft:
“Every time I need to dive into Photoshop I’m blown away by how bloated and slow Creative Cloud is. Figma loads quickly, is incredibly easy to use, and has character to boot — in a lot of ways the opposite of many Adobe tools.”
The Disintegration of the Adobe XD Community
Originally, Adobe XD had competitive features and an active community. In the beginning, users could vote on which improvements should be implemented in UserVoice forums. In these forums, the XD product team would directly interact with and listen to users.
This has long since vanished. And, combined with lackluster updates and useful updates locked behind paywalls, many users decided to opt for Figma instead. According to Greg Lewis, and ex-fan and user of Adobe XD:
“Up until 2020 I would still be able to make a confident argument that XD was on par. But by 2021 it had just fallen too far behind. Having built design systems in Sketch and then Figma I could not see XD catching up with them anytime soon.”
Figma had actually captured the market so successfully that when Microsoft had to make the choice between Adobe XD and Figma, it chose Figma.
Jon Friedman, corporate vice president of design and research at Microsoft, told CNBC:
“Figma’s become, I would say, sort of the No. 1 common tool we use to collaborate across all of the design community in the community and beyond.”
Why Did So Many People And Companies Choose Figma Over Adobe XD?
What it ultimately boils down to is this: Figma is less expensive and users can do more with it.
Figma simply has a more attractive pricing model. While its paid subscription tier starts at $12 a month, and Adobe XD’s starts at $9.99, Figma offers a much more expansive free tier.
Figma offers a free-to-use membership that includes many of its best features and enables real-time teamwork.
The free tier of Adobe XD has the same problem that Figma innovated in response to years ago: it is basically useless for collaboration. In an industry built on teamwork, this is simply not attractive to professionals.
What Will Happen to Figma?
Many users are concerned that, under Adobe, Figma will slowly lose its free tier or its ability to innovate independently of Adobe entirely.
One big criticism of Adobe is that it drowns users in constant messages trying to get them to buy more expensive tiers of their products. Many are afraid that Figma will become like this.
However, both Adobe and Figma are trying to assuage these concerns. In a blog post on the Figma site, Dylan Field wrote:
Adobe is deeply committed to keeping Figma operating autonomously and I will continue to serve as CEO, reporting to David Wadhwani. David is someone I’ve known for a few years now and we have a strong relationship of mutual respect; I’m very excited for us to collaborate with him on how to continue growing Figma’s business. The entire Figma team will report to me. We plan to continue to run Figma the way we have always run Figma — continuing to do what we believe is best for our community, our culture and our business.
Also, despite all of the criticism, it cannot be denied that a number of other companies have flourished after being purchased by Adobe. This includes companies like TypeKit and Magneto, which it has continued to nurture as an open-source community.
Final Thoughts on the Adobe Acquisition of Figma
Ultimately, what will happen with Figma remains to be seen.
Despite the fear from the community, Adobe does have a track record of working well with the companies it acquires and respecting their existing communities.
What do you think? Comment below.
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