Our design team tried out Figma with a new activity inspired by the game Telephone.

How to try a new product out all together

Each month, our part remote, part in Raleigh, NC design crew comes together to discuss design. Each session is different, sometimes we discuss progress on individual projects, inspiring designs or tools, research a topic, or try out a new skill. We have a list of topics that everyone votes on; for August we decided to try out Figma.

Figma is touted as the “Google Docs of design tools” allowing multiple designers on a single design at the same time. Since it was our first time really trying this product out, everyone on the same file at the same time seemed like a chaotic way to start. So like any great design team, we decided to take it up a notch and play Telephone with a design prompt.

Ok, but what’s telephone?

Telephone is a kids game where everyone whispers a phrase to their neighbor until it reaches the last person. The last person says the word out loud so everyone can hear how much it has changed from the first whisper, and then everyone laughs.

Our Execution

Dana built out a design prompt for “Planted,” a mobile app that helps people keep track of plants in their garden. Before we began, to make this easier for everyone, we cheated a little and had Rafiqu create the logo.

To keep things organized, we each signed up for a day and time slot. Our plan was the first person was responsible for the planning with a user flow, and everyone else wouldn’t have a defined goal other working on the designs for about an hour.

Martín started us off, planning out what pages the app would need and a brief user flow. Brandon created the home and menu views. Rafiqu made the plant detail page. S made the add a plant views. Oz worked on the option elements on the plant detail page. Phil worked on the setting a reminder feature. Dana strung the views together in the prototype mode. On Friday, we all got back on the file at the same time to see how the experiment worked and to discuss our thoughts.

Experiment Conclusions

We thought that some people would drastically change someone else’s designs or the features wouldn’t match up. Surprisingly, everyone essentially kept to their own page or two that fit within the flow. There was a debate on whether we cheated a bit too much with having the first person create a user flow. It helped us accomplish a coherent string of pages in such a short amount of time. If we were able to spend more time on this, perhaps without the user flow would have been a funnier result.

Sure, we would of course never actually not discuss product ideas, goals, and deliverables. The experiment itself was enjoyable though, even if the parameters were unrealistic. It was a fun challenge to create something that should “speak for itself” through the design phase.

In the past, when we’ve tried out other design products, we all recreated the same file. This worked since we all got to try out the product and not worry about the design. Doing the telephone version made trying out a new product just more interesting. Everyone focusing on different pages also resulted in more variety of features sampled as a whole. We got to learn more from each other rather than learning about the same features on our own. We got to learn more from each other rather than learning about the same features on our own.

Ok, but what about Figma?

Right, the whole reason we did this - to try out Figma.

A few things that we really liked: 

  • - We’re able to try Figma for free
  • - The way to combine vector shapes
  • - Quick ways to apply common elements like drop shadows or background blurs
  • - That prototype mode is separated but still all together in one app
  • - The ability to have one or more people in the file designing (even though we didn’t get to try it out altogether at once yet)

A few things that we didn’t really like:

  • - A few of us had issues with images, bringing in icons from Adobe Illustrator, and resizing (but, we’re first timers)
  • - Code mode just has one file size export (other tools will solve this though)
  • - Some of our strong-willed macOS team members didn’t like the lack of native macOS look
  • - Although we were using the free version, we had some issues with transferring ownership of the project.

A few things that we’re excited about keeping our eye on in the future:

  • -We’re looking forward to figuring out components - we didn’t understand how they worked right away and would take a lot of trial and error to figure out the best way to use them and organize them.
  • - The newly available third-party plugins like Unsplash, iOS Export Settings, Figmotion, and Content Reel.

Conclusion

Since we are a partially remote team, our quickest adoption of using Figma will be in the ideation moments of new products or features. There are digital whiteboard tools, swapping images of sketches back and forth, or sharing screens with a file open, but we’ve yet to come across something we like enough to keep around long term. Figma allows us to have all the tools were used to as designers but with the real time sharing that we need to solve problems quickly together.

Currently we use Sketch for our design work (with some legacy projects still around in Photoshop) so, the big question is: are we making the leap from Sketch to Figma? Well, not yet. While nothing in particular would stop us from successfully starting a project in Figma, it's not enough of a win yet to make us shift over. We also need more time with Figma though. We just got started with it and are excited to watch Figma grow!

Curious on how we really did? Visit our Figma file here: https://www.figma.com/file/VrRZmCmdynxmE2oWW1IDKh/Webonise-Telephone-Planted-App-Design?node-id=0%3A1

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