Ongoing debate over new Figma UI

3 years ago from Mattan Ingram,

  • Ryan MackRyan Mack, 3 years ago

    It appears they conducted several phases of user research and found no major issues. They were also anticipating backlash amongst the community, which isn’t new. Don't have to look back too far to remember how Jony gutted skeuomorphism which turned out to be a big step forward for the world.

    I wish we knew more of the nitty gritty in the challenges both the users and the Figma team were faced with and what led to the decisions that they made. We can only critique with what information we have, so hopefully we'll learn more soon. Personally, I haven’t had any usability issues.

    8 points
    • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, 3 years ago

      I don't have very much faith in user research these days. Not on principle, but more in practice. It's rare that companies have hired UX researchers as opposed to just having designers or customer support do it. Without details about the number of testers, accessibility needs of those testers, and how the testing was executed, we have no idea if it was good research or not.

      We have been developing accessibility guidelines and standards for years now, but Figma's UI refresh means we they can just ignore that because some testers liked it?

      The number of times I can think of where I have run new UI by users who were enthralled by the aesthetics and strongly assured me it was much better only to find out later in production that it didn't actually solve their problem, they only imagined it did.

      Considering there is very little structural change to where controls are in the new UI, I would be very surprised if reducing font sizes, lowering contrast, and removing input indications would improve a new user's ability to learn the tool compared to the old UI.

      6 points
      • Ryan MackRyan Mack, 3 years ago

        I guess we’ll have to see if/how Figma responds. For now, and particularly as designers, we can only be empathetic with the team until we know more about what went into the decisions. It's what we do.

        We can only hope that they—a team that has raised $83 million—would know how to filter bias in their research and conduct the tests on both existing users and new ones. But it's totally plausible and does happen that biased decisions are made.

        As technology adoption increases and interfaces permeate our daily lives, it’s only been shown that less is more when it comes to interfaces. We probably wouldn't get very far if no one ever pushed standards and guidelines to see where improvement lies. So, if anything, we can look at this as an experiment from figma and learn from it. Unfortunately, sometimes that comes at the expense of users and/or their business.

        1 point
        • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, 3 years ago

          Generally I agree, but it is frustrating that they essentially gave the UI a new coat of paint without actually addressing any of the major issues and missing features we have been asking for. So when that coat of paint doesn't seem to make much sense and isn't explained beyond "we needed to refresh and we tested it" it can be worrisome.

          I still can't search my layers panel for a specific element, and now the layers panel is lower contrast, smaller text, and deeper indentations than before so what was already difficult is even more difficult now.

          I can't recreate my web designs 1:1 with Figma because it does not have box-shadow spread, single edge borders, content that resizes elements, etc. I want to see that team effort and money going into things that will keep Figma competitive into the future. I switched from Sketch to Figma for some very good reasons, but I am already beginning to look at tools like Modulz or Hadron because they reflect a more modern view of design and they actually work the way the web does.

          1 point
          • Ryan MackRyan Mack, 3 years ago

            Yeah, the frustration is understandable. This could've been a low hanging fruit for them and something that's been on the roadmap for a while and still not inhibit progress on new features. The innovation and engineering mindset Figma brings is refreshing and don't foresee them slowing down on that front.

            1 point
            • Mattan IngramMattan Ingram, 3 years ago

              I think the Figma team is great and their hard work shows, but I am beginning to believe that at a core level attempting to recreate the environments you are designing for will always fall behind a tool that works in the environment you are designing for.

              I wouldn't be surprised if in the next few years there is a large switch for web designers from tools like Sketch/Figma to tools like Modulz, Hadron, Webflow, etc. and eventually the same thing will happen for native designers.

              Trying to recreate all these web features in Canvas means you will always be a step behind a tool built with HTML and CSS.

              1 point
              • Ryan MackRyan Mack, 3 years ago

                Yeah, agreed. That's the beauty of competition.

                The line between pseudo design [like mockups/comps] and actual implementation is slowing blurring for tools as we inch closer to creating and implementing in real time, re: no-code movement. Though, web standards had to reach a point for apps like you listed to become viable and as those standards improve, the apps will too, bringing in more users.

                2 points
                • David ThornDavid Thorn, 3 years ago

                  Nothing meaningful to add except I love seeing more of these discussions back on DN.

                  3 points