Figma vs Sketch: Deciding the Best Design Tool for Your Creative Project

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December 3, 2023

Figma offers cross-platform, collaborative design; Sketch optimizes for Mac users.

Both provide robust tools for smooth, professional UI/UX design.

Figma vs Sketch: Deciding the Best Design Tool for Your Creative Project

Figma and Sketch are both powerful design tools that have gained significant popularity in the world of user interface and user experience design. They provide unique features and capabilities, catering to the needs of designers and developers alike. But which tool should you choose for your next project?

When it comes to selecting the right design tool, understanding the key differences between Figma and Sketch is crucial. By exploring their features, functionalities, and pricing models, you'll be better equipped to make an informed decision. So, how do these two tools differ, and which one will suit your needs better?

Key Takeaways

  • Figma and Sketch are popular UI/UX apps with unique features and capabilities.
  • Comparing their interface design, functionality, and collaboration options can help in decision-making.
  • Both tools have strengths and weaknesses; personal preference plays a significant role in the choice.

Discovering Figma and Sketch

Both apps are popular UI design tools used by professionals and companies to create seamless and impressive design projects. Each tool has its own set of features and strengths, catering to different user needs and preferences.

This section aims to provide a brief comparison of these design tools, highlighting their core functionalities.

Figma is a web app that runs in-browser, making it platform-independent. This means that designers can work on their projects using various operating systems, such as Windows, macOS, and Linux.

The advantage of being a web app is that it allows for real-time collaboration between team members, fostering a more inclusive design workflow. Figma offers a free plan for individual designers and paid plans for teams, starting at $12 per editor/month.

Key features of Figma:

  • Platform-independent, works in-browser
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Vector networks
  • Pricing: Free for individual designers, paid plans for teams

On the other hand, Sketch is an app designed exclusively for Mac, targeting Apple users. Although this specificity might be seen as limiting, it does provide a smooth and optimized experience for Mac users. Sketch requires a one-time payment of $99 for per-user licensing.

Key features of Sketch:

  • Mac-only desktop app
  • Group resizing options
  • Pricing: Flat $99 per user

While both tools have unique strengths, the choice between software comes down to the individual or team's preferences and needs.

For those looking for cross-platform compatibility and real-time collaboration, Figma offers a powerful and flexible solution. Meanwhile, Mac users who prefer a desktop app may find Sketch as the perfect fit for their design projects.

Exploring the User Interface Design

When it comes to the UI design process, both tools offer compelling features and a professional environment for UI designers to create and manage design systems. However, there are some key differences that might influence a designer's decision to choose one over the other.

Figma's primary advantage is its platform and performance - as it operates in-browser, making it universally accessible and platform-agnostic. It allows seamless collaboration among teams, and its real-time editing feature enables team members to make changes simultaneously.

In contrast, Sketch is an app exclusive to Apple computers, which can limit cross-platform collaboration.

In terms of design system management, both tools have powerful features to organize, customize, and share design components. Figma uses Components and Styles as its core building blocks, while Sketch uses Symbols and Shared Styles to achieve a similar outcome. They both support:

  • Reusable components
  • Layer and text styles
  • Organizing components in libraries

Figma excels in prototyping capabilities, offering interactive prototyping without the need for additional plugins. It allows designers to create complex interactions and transitions, making it a powerful tool in the design process.

Sketch, on the other hand, has relatively basic prototyping features and often requires the use of third-party plugins to enhance its functionality. This provides flexibility and customization, but can also create dependency issues when updating the software.

When analyzing the overall user experience, Figma has a more intuitive interface with easy access to tools and panels, while Sketch tends to have a steeper learning curve for newcomers. To help visualize the differences, here's a comparison chart:

In summary, both tools provide powerful tools for UI design and design system management, but their accessibility, collaboration, and prototyping capabilities differ.

A Look at Figma

Figma is a web-based tool designed to cater to the needs of web designers. As a versatile all-in-one platform, it allows users to design, prototype, and collaborate on projects all within a single application. Operating as a web app puts Figma ahead of desktop-based tools, making it easily accessible on any device with an internet connection.

One of the key strengths of Figma is its real-time collaboration feature. Multiple team members can access, edit, and collaborate on a project simultaneously. This seamless collaboration eliminates bottlenecks and enhances the overall workflow of design teams.

Figma extends its capabilities through the use of Figma plugins. These plugins, developed by the Figma community, enable users to integrate additional functionalities, automate repetitive tasks, and customize the user experience to better suit their needs.

Some of the key features of Figma include:

  • Web-based access
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Prototyping functionality
  • An extensive library of plugins
  • Universal compatibility across devices and operating systems

A Glance at Sketch

Sketch is a native Mac app primarily designed for user interface and user experience (UI/UX) purposes. It provides a seamless experience to Mac users who prefer working with native applications. Sketch gained popularity for being one of the go-to design tools for web and mobile app designers for many years.

The strength of Sketch lies in its robust plugin ecosystem. There is an extensive collection of plugins available that can greatly extend the functionality of the software.

This allows users to tailor their experience and streamline their workflow, making Sketch a highly customizable option. Additionally, the Mac app offers a clean and intuitive interface, making it easy for new users to adapt and understand its features.

Another aspect of Sketch that attracts designers is its capabilities in collaboration. With Sketch subscriptions, users can access a shared Workspace, allowing for real-time design collaboration within native apps.

Designers can work together in the same space, share documents with detailed version histories, and access unique links for each version.

Overall, Sketch has consistently proven itself as a reliable and well-rounded design tool. While some areas such as collaboration and platform support may have room for improvement compared to Figma, Sketch remains popular and well-regarded among the Mac community and UI/UX designers alike.

Features Comparison

When comparing the two, it is essential to look at their key features to understand which tool might be better suited for specific design needs. This comparison will provide insights into their capabilities regarding files, elements, vector networks, flexible vector editing, and layout grids.

Figma is a cloud-based tool which means that design files can be easily accessed, shared, and edited in real-time by multiple team members, leading to better collaboration. On the other hand, Sketch is a desktop application, and while it supports collaboration through Sketch Cloud, it does not provide the same real-time editing experience as Figma.

Regarding design features, Figma uses components, while Sketch utilizes symbols. Although this is mainly a difference in terminology, the functionality is similar. Both tools allow designers to create reusable elements, improving workflow and maintaining design consistency.

When comparing the handling of vector networks, Figma offers a more advanced system. Its vector networks simplify the manipulation of complex shapes and paths, making it easier to create intricate designs. Sketch provides basic support for vector editing, but it may require additional plugins to achieve the same level of complexity as Figma.

In terms of flexible vector editing, Figma offers several features that make it a powerful choice. The pen tool, for example, provides anchor point and curve adjustments, as well as boolean operations for combining and cutting shapes. Sketch also provides these features, but some users may find Figma's implementation to be more streamlined and precise.

Both tools offer support for layout grids, which are essential in creating responsive designs for various screen sizes. Figma's auto layout feature enables designers to create dynamic layouts that automatically resize and reorganize elements based on constraints. Sketch has a similar feature called "smart layout", which adapts to content changes but requires more manual adjustments.

These two software offer robust features for designers, but they have distinct advantages in specific areas. Figma offers both a desktop and a web app and shines in collaboration, vector networks, and flexible vector editing, while Sketch remains a popular choice for designers who prefer a desktop application and require more manual control.

Functionality and Ease of Use

Design systems play a crucial role in streamlining workflows for designers. It is essential to analyze how these design tools handle design systems, including layout elements, files, and overall ease of use.

Figma has a robust design system that allows for advanced control of design features and components. Its approach to files is cloud-based, making it easy for designers to collaborate in real-time. Figma provides options to define basic text attributes such as weight, size, spacing, and line height. The tool makes it simple to create reusable components that can be easily updated across an entire design file. Additionally, variable fonts and auto-layout features in Figma offer better adaptability for different screen sizes and device types.

In terms of functionality and ease of use, it is important to consider their key features, tools, and compatibility with other software. Both design platforms offer a range of solutions for digital designers, including vector-based tools suitable for creating web and app interfaces.

Figma is a web-based design tool that allows seamless compatibility across different platforms. This enables designers to work on their projects from virtually anywhere without the need for a specific operating system. In contrast, Sketch is a desktop application available only for Apple computers, limiting its accessibility to only macOS users.

In addition to its cross-platform accessibility, Figma shines in the area of real-time collaboration. Its cloud-based storage and live collaboration features put it in a league of its own, similar to Google Docs. Sketch, on the other hand, offers limited collaboration facilities that require third-party plugins.

Vector-based tools and component libraries in both applications allow users to create and manipulate complex designs. Both resemble Adobe Illustrator in terms of design tools, but they take the user experience a step further with their focus on UI/UX design. Although Sketch has a reputation for being more user-friendly, Figma's consistent updates and quick learning curve have narrowed the gap in recent years.

As for integration with other Adobe products, both tools have the ability to import and export files in formats compatible with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe XD. However, they do not yet match the full-fledged functionalities found in Adobe XD or Photoshop, especially when it comes to advanced image manipulation or vector drawing capabilities.

Both offer tools to create interactive prototypes. These can be shared with stakeholders or test users, facilitating real-time feedback and iterations. This functionality is somewhat similar to what Adobe XD has to offer.

Thus, considering the functionality and ease of use, these two apps cater to a large audience within the design community. The choice between the two relies on individual preferences, work environment, and specific project requirements.

Analyzing Design Systems: Figma vs Sketch

Sketch, on the other hand, is a desktop application exclusive to macOS. This design software stores files locally or through third-party plugins like Abstract. Designers can create reusable design components, called Symbols, in Sketch, but with the limitation of creating a unique text/layer style for each case. This approach can end up consuming more time and effort when managing a design system. However, Sketch also offers powerful design tools and relies on plugins to extend its functionality.

Both have their pros and cons when it comes to handling design systems.

The choice between them will ultimately depend on an individual or team's specific needs, system compatibility, and design workflow preferences. Designers should thoroughly evaluate each platform in terms of design elements, files, and the overall management of their design system before making an informed decision.

Collaboration Features: Figma vs Sketch

Figma and Sketch are popular design tools, each with their own set of collaboration features. Understanding these features and how they apply to your specific needs is essential when choosing the right tool for your team.

Figma is a cloud-based design tool that allows for real-time collaboration, which makes it an attractive option for design teams working together on projects. One of the significant advantages of Figma is its "multiplayer" feature, enabling multiple designers to work on the same project simultaneously. As a synced web app, Figma requires an internet connection, allowing all team members to access and edit designs from any device with a web browser.

Benefits of Figma's Collaboration Features:

  • Real-time collaboration
  • Instant syncing across devices
  • No software installation required
  • Accessible through a web browser

On the other hand, Sketch is a desktop-based application, which means that its collaboration features are not as robust compared to a cloud-based platform like Figma. Sketch offers a shared Workspace feature for its subscribers, allowing design teams to work side-by-side and share documents with version histories. However, real-time collaboration is not as seamless as with Figma, and team members need to install the Sketch software on their devices.

Benefits of Sketch's Collaboration Features:

  • Shared Workspace for subscribers
  • Document version history
  • No need for an internet connection during individual work

When comparing the collaboration features between the tools, it is essential to consider your team's requirements and preferences.

If real-time collaboration and a synced web app accessible by the entire team are vital for your design process, Figma is an excellent choice with its robust collaboration features. Conversely, if an internet connection might be a constraint or you prefer native desktop applications, Sketch provides collaboration options that might better suit your needs.

Advanced Capabilities: Prototyping and Integration

When it comes to prototyping functionality, both have unique features and integration capabilities to offer. Designers and developers are equally interested in their respective capacities. In this section, we will explore their advanced capabilities, focusing on prototyping and integration aspects.

Figma stands out for its real-time collaboration feature, making it the go-to tool for teams that need to work on designs simultaneously. The in-browser performance of Figma allows users to access and edit files from various devices. Furthermore, Figma supports a wide range of prototyping features that make it versatile. This includes:

  • Smart animations, for creating smooth transitions between frames.
  • Interactive components, for designing reusable elements.
  • Real-time previews, for testing and iterating designs quickly.

On the other hand, Sketch is a powerful prototyping tool that gained popularity due to its easy-to-use interface for creating simple prototypes. Sketch's prototyping functionality primarily consists of:

  • Artboard linking, for connecting multiple artboards.
  • Hotspot layers, for defining interactive areas.
  • Basic animations, for creating a more engaging user experience.

Sketch's strength lies in its extensive library of third-party plugins available in its ecosystem. These plugins can enhance the tool's prototyping capabilities, as well as other aspects of design, such as collaboration and productivity. Developers can also create custom plugins, allowing teams to cater the tool to their unique needs.

In terms of integration, Figma offers compatibility with many project management, design, and development tools, such as Jira, Slack, and Zeplin. Sketch also provides a path model for integration with numerous tools used by developers and designers. However, Figma's cloud-based nature gives it an edge over Sketch in terms of accessibility and collaboration.

Both are powerful prototyping tools with unique features and integration options. While Figma excels in real-time collaboration and accessibility, Sketch shines in its plugin ecosystem and customization capabilities. Ultimately, the best choice will depend on the specific needs and preferences of the designers and developers using the tool.

Vector-Based Design Tool: Figma vs Sketch

A key aspect of vector-based tools is their approach to vector networks. These networks enable designers to create and manipulate complex shapes, essentially simplifying the overall vector drawing process.

Figma: Unique Approach

Figma offer a unique approach to vector drawing. Unlike traditional pen tools that draw paths in loops with a defined direction, Figma allow designers to connect multiple lines without the need to complete a loop.

This flexibility makes it easier to manipulate designs and adjust them seamlessly while maintaining the overall structure of the illustration. Figma's ability to create and edit vector networks is available for any user with "can edit" access to a file, making it a valuable feature for collaborative design projects.

Sketch App: For Traditional UI Designers?

In comparison, Sketch does not provide a specific feature called "vector networks."

Instead, it relies on its robust vector drawing tools that still enable designers to create intricate shapes and graphics. Sketch's vector editing capabilities include support for Bezier curves, corner radius, and boolean operations—allowing designers to achieve a high level of precision in their work.

While both have their respective strengths in vector drawing, Figma's stand out with some advantages:

  • Easier manipulation: Connecting multiple lines in Figma allows for seamless adjustments without disrupting the overall structure of the design.
  • Collaborative environment: Figma's web-based platform encourages collaboration, and the ability to edit vector networks is straightforward for users with "can edit" access.
  • Dynamic editing: The live editing feature in Figma enhances the process of creating complex vector shapes and reflects the changes automatically across all instances.

On the other hand, Sketch's strength in vector design lies in its traditional approach:

  • Precision: Sketch offers detailed control over vector points, curves, and paths, enabling designers to create intricate and precise designs.
  • Native application: As a macOS app, Sketch provides improved performance and an intuitive user interface for macOS users.

Figma's unique approach to offers increased flexibility and collaboration, Sketch's traditional vector drawing tools still provide an efficient method for designers looking for precision in their work.

Understanding Layout and Constraints: Figma vs Sketch

When it comes to layout design and constraints, both offer distinct features to address responsiveness, resizing, and aligning objects.

Figma - Flexible UI Design Tool

Figma provides a flexible system for grids and constraints, allowing designers to create responsive and resizable layouts. This flexibility is a significant advantage for designing interfaces that cater to multiple screen sizes and devices.

Figma's layout grid options include Grid, Rows, and Columns. These options enable designers to easily manage the alignment and placement of objects. Figma also employs vector networks, which improve path modeling compared to the traditional pen tool in Sketch.

Sketch App - Resizing Features w/ Presets

On the other hand, Sketch utilizes a group resizing feature with four preset options: Stretch, Pin to Corner, Resize Object and Float in Place. While this feature allows designers to maintain objects' relative positioning while resizing, it doesn't offer the same flexibility as Figma's constraint system.

Nevertheless, Sketch is renowned for its customizable artboards and responsive design capabilities, enabling users to efficiently design for multiple screen resolutions.

Both tools offer layout constraints to ensure proper scaling and maintain the hierarchy of design elements.

Both tools come with their advantages and limitations when dealing with layout and constraints. The ideal choice depends on a designer's preference, needs, and the specific requirements of the project.

In general, Figma's robust vector networks and more flexible layout constraints make it a popular choice for designing responsive and resizable layouts. However, Sketch's group resizing feature and customizable artboard capabilities are valuable for managing object resizing and maintaining consistency throughout the design process.

Focus on Developer Handoff

The design-to-developer handoff plays a significant role in software development, and having efficient developer handoff capabilities in a design tool can save both time and effort. Two popular apps in the market are Figma and Sketch. Let's compare their offerings in terms of developer handoff.

Figma has built-in prototyping and developer handoff features, which eliminates the need for external integrations or additional tools.

Its robust collaboration features enable designers, developers, and project managers to work synchronously, inspect, and even export code snippets directly from the platform. This seamless design handoff greatly benefits the development process by reducing miscommunication and promoting efficiency.

Some key Figma features for developer handoff include:

  • Inspect mode: Allows developers to view design properties like dimensions, colors, and typography.
  • Code export: Provides ready-to-use CSS, iOS, or Android code snippets.
  • Version history: Keeps track of file changes and allows easy access to previous versions.

On the other hand, Sketch does not have built-in developer handoff capabilities. It relies on integrations with third-party tools such as Zeplin for this purpose.

Although Sketch's core functionality is powerful, the absence of native handoff features may cause friction in the workflow, making it less appealing to teams that prioritize seamless handoffs.

Figma's integrated developer handoff capabilities make it an excellent choice for teams that aim for a smooth and efficient design-developer workflow. Sketch's reliance on external integrations may require additional setup and maintenance, making it potentially less efficient compared to Figma in terms of developer handoff.

Preference Factors: Figma or Sketch?

Let's take a look at some of the key aspects that may lead someone to prefer one tool over the other.

Platform and Performance

Figma operates in-browser, making it universally accessible and platform agnostic. On the other hand, Sketch is a desktop app and exclusive to Apple computers. This might make Figma the preferred choice for designers working on a variety of devices, while Sketch would be suitable for those primarily using macOS.

Collaboration and Real-time Editing

Figma stands out in the area of collaboration, offering real-time editing and support for multiple users working simultaneously on a single project. Sketch, in comparison, offers limited collaboration features and requires additional plugins or tools like Abstract or InVision to facilitate team-based work.

Pricing Structure

Figma offers a free version for individual designers, with paid options for teams starting from $12 per editor/month. Sketch, on the other hand, has a one-time fee of $99 for a license, with the yearly cost for updates. Depending on budget constraints and team size, one tool's pricing structure might be more favorable than the other.

Integration and Plugins

Sketch is well known for its plugin ecosystem, which allows users to extend the functionality of the tool. Although Figma doesn't have as vast a selection of plugins, it offers native integrations with popular services like Zeplin and InVision. The tool with better integration and plugin options will ultimately depend on a designer's workflow and preferred software environment.

Whether designers prefer Figma or Sketch depends on factors like their device ecosystem, collaboration needs, budget, and desired integrations. By taking these aspects into consideration, individual designers and teams can make a well-informed decision that suits their unique requirements.

Conclusion

Figma excels in real-time collaboration, platform compatibility, and ease of use, making it an excellent choice for design teams working on web development and UX design.

On the other hand, Sketch's native application for macOS offers a robust design environment and an extensive plugin ecosystem.

While both Figma and Sketch allow you to edit projects, Figma's browser-based approach lets team members stay on the same page more efficiently. Ultimately, the best choice depends on your specific needs and workflow. Try both Figma and Sketch in your design process and find out which tool suits you the best.