The ultimate digital marketing graphic design program? Figma looks promising.
Photoshop and Illustrator have been the defacto standard for graphic design but new software tools specifically designed for the world inhabited within our devices have been appearing and one in particular is at a whole new level.
In 2016 I discovered Sketch, a vector graphics editor for macOS and it felt like a new beginning to finally leaving the behemoths Photoshop and Illustrator behind for a more fluid, easy and cost effective graphic design program.
First and foremost, it is waaaaay faster to load and work in because it’s designed specifically for digital screen interfaces. How everything is laid out and functions is simply more current to this space. Illustrator and Photoshop were never designed for web design.
To be fair, both Illustrator and Photoshop still have a lot of great features it’s just in this new space of digital marketing, and within a network of collaborators — which includes the folks within the client organization — Sketch has been designed from the ground up for today’s digital marketing design.
Figma is like Sketch on Steroids
Enter Figma — extremely similar to Sketch, only you don’t need to install any software — it runs directly in the browser and it’s free for two editors.
It’s crazy when you can simply run a program with no installation (though there is a desktop version) and then you can share that file with someone and they can open and begin editing it without needing to install or pay anything.
Design logos, icons, wireframes — pass this over to the client and provide full access that they can gain instantly.
Photoshop & Illustrator -> Sketch -> Figma
If you’ve yet to make the leap from Photoshop and/or Illustrator to one of the latest new graphic design tools or if you have but haven’t heard of Figma, this video covers aspects of all four of these tools and how they differ.
Figma as a small business digital marker’s graphic design program
How do you own your visual identity? High quality, consistent and easily editable.
That begins with our logo. Our mark. Do you know how many organizations struggle to find a vector version of their logo (.ai, .eps, .svg)? Your branding in it’s ultimate format should be instantly on hand for everyone.
Step beyond your brand and into your next round of visuals — your non-photographic. Any icons or illustrations. Think visuals that have solid colors and lines. These can often take the place of photographs, like image panels, diagrams, badges or visual quotes.
The key is you can find billions of vector stock images and then color them with your brand colors, effectively making them your own. This is super easy in Figma and can be performed by just about anyone. It’s quite literally, paint by number.
Small businesses can set up their brand style guide, locking in their mark and colors and then easily spread that branding out across a whole visual library and they can do that without any software. Any platform with a web browser can open a Figma file and anybody can be invited to access and even edit it collaboratively. And it’s free.
In 23 years of digital, I’ve never seen anything like this and it all makes sense the moment you experience it.
In just the last week of using Figma, I’ve created a substantial creative library of designs and branding but one other type of creative which I never imagined possible: contributed creative.
Because Figma is browser based — a graphic design program that runs in the browser, you can literally surf files which by their visual nature, feels almost like visiting graphically rich web pages which you can then just start changing — anything.
You can copy pieces out and move into another space. Your space. And then create new designs your self — and then share those with others who can just browse and then start editing.
Everyone is pushing cloud based sharing of assets and files, but it’s always an add-on. Secondary to the functionality of the program. With Figma, it’s where it starts. A collaborative design that in a single click is accessible and changeable. No downloading of software. No syncing with files. No separate log-in URL or collaborative destination. The program and the collaboration are symbiotic and intertwined. You comment against files or pieces of the file like it’s Slack, you see other peoples movements in realtime on a design like it’s a Google Doc, and you invite people and build teams around projects like its…well, Figma.
Vector Super Powers
I never imagined this kind of power ever occurring by simply visiting a page in a web browser.
I suspect because it’s more like Illustrator than Photoshop (vector vs bitmap manipulation), with a focus around design for the very devices we use in accessing this tool (think about that for a moment), that this type of new collaborative creative has evolved.
Summary: Why you should try Figma
Figma is free
Figma works directly from the browser – no software needed
Collaborating and sharing files with Figma is like Google Docs — Instant!
Figma is exceptionally good with vector based visuals which offers the highest visual fidelity.
Figma has closely matched Sketch’s evolution away from Photoshop and Illustrator and then made it better.
We can help you with your digital marketing visuals.
As part of our digital marketing platform setup, we can get you up and running quickly with a visual branding library that’s tied into your website, email campaigning and social media.