5 Best Practices to Consider When Migrating to Figma
As the Figma ecosystem continues to grow and add features to its design (Figma) and whiteboarding (FigJam) tools, many organizations are making the switch to this leading platform.
From tool consolidation to multidisciplinary collaboration—and everything in between—Figma has much to offer product teams across design, development, strategy and product management functions.
That being said, migrating a design tool is both a technical and operational challenge. As a certified Figma Signature Service Partner, we’ve collaborated with many large, complex organizations to assist in the successful transition of their design tooling to Figma.
Initially, this endeavor may seem like a straightforward technical migration, where the primary focus is on moving over project files and assets. However, we have found that organizations eventually realize that unless they also account for the operational dimensions of training—i.e., establishing and documenting new workflows, planning for addressing design debt, and establishing rules around governance—adoption won’t magically happen.
Several themes have emerged across our experiences with a variety of organizations that may help your team as you make the leap to Figma. Here are the five things you should consider when migrating to Figma:
1. First, audit your design files.
You may find that some projects and files only need to be brought over to be archived, whereas current projects need to be more carefully migrated. If you’re migrating an entire design system, think through any desired changes to its organization and architecture. Doing these audits as the first phase of a Figma migration is more efficient than doing so afterward. Think of it in terms of a physical move. For example, when my family packed up our condo in Chicago to prep for a move to Atlanta, we did a pre-move purge. We figured out what we wanted to bring with us, what could be donated, and what we were OK to part ways with. This dramatically reduced the number of boxes we had to move and allowed us to have a fresh start in our new home. Following this same practice with your design files is no different and will make your design system stronger in the end.
2. Remember to plan for the operational dimensions of the migration.
Things like documentation, training, adoption, and governance are just as important as the technical migration of your files and will ensure your teams are ready to start leveraging the power of Figma sooner. Here is roughly how One North thinks about the optimal timeline of activities:
3. Consider all the users of your design system.
Figma is no longer just a design tool, so be sure to also keep your developers, product managers, and writers in mind. Their needs, challenges, and workflows should be addressed in the migration if you want them to use the new tool collaboratively. After all, one of the best parts about Figma is how it brings teams together!
4. Make sure you’re taking advantage of all Figma’s powerful features.
Our team was on the ground at Figma’s annual conference, Config, when this year’s new features—Variables, Dev Mode, and Advanced Prototyping—were announced. There’s a lot to learn and unpack here, but if you’re migrating this year, you should be leveraging these new features. One North’s own design and development teams have been integrating these new features into our workflows and are blown away by the efficiencies they’ve introduced—particularly for our distributed multidisciplinary teams. Once you get familiar with things like Dev Mode and FigJam, you will likely find that you can sunset other tools in your design and dev stack. Doing so will help you realize additional savings and efficiencies from the tool consolidation.
5. Consider the expertise and bandwidth of the team(s) that own your design system and digital products.
- Expertise: Do you have teams that manage your design tools, component libraries, and design ops? Are there internal resources that have experience with a large tool migration? Do your current resources have comfort and expertise with Figma, and are they aware of the new features?
- Bandwidth: What does the current team(s) workload look like, and what is your organization’s desired timeline for the migration?
- Consider your answers to both of the above questions and evaluate if and how an outside expert may be able to add value by providing technical and operational experience and additional bandwidth to accelerate your timeline.
While migrating to Figma does require an initial uplift, many organizations find that they quickly realize benefits, such as enhanced collaboration and increased productivity—often saving over 100 hours per week (which can then be allocated to more valuable efforts, like creative exploration, product advancement, and other innovations). The time and resources required to move your team to Figma will depend upon the complexity and maturity of your organization, and the capabilities of your team. But, from our perspective, the effort is absolutely worth the investment—and it’s most successful when you keep the five best practices discussed here in mind.
If you’re considering a migration to Figma, or are looking to get more out of the tool, we can help! Contact us to learn more about how we’ve partnered with leading organizations to realize more accurate, consistent and efficient workflows—and launch thoughtful digital products and experiences using Figma.
Photo Credit: Maxim Berg | Unsplash
As Managing Director of Design, Jessica leads One North’s Design and Front-End Development disciplines and helps facilitate the seamless collaboration between these teams. She partners with clients to deliver innovative solutions–including creative strategy, website design concepts and brand development–and provides unique perspective on the crossroads of design and technology.
If I were a vegetable: I would be a bhut jolokia (ghost pepper) because it’s the closest vegetable I could find to HOT SAUCE.
Favorite color: Maize. 2nd favorite color: Blue.