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Figma vs Sketch


Introduction

Sketch has been around for quite a while and has served as a popular tool for user interface designs in the design community. However, since the introduction of Figma, it has also received a lot of attention. Figma is the first comprehensive interface design tool based in the browser, making it easier for teams to design, prototype, and gather feedback all in one place.

These design tools offer extended abilities for the service they provide. However, when making important design decisions, it is often necessary to have a few factors under consideration. In this post, we’ll objectively do a technical comparison of this two fantastic tools to provide you some useful information when deciding which one to use in your project.

Collaboration

Collaboration is one of the most important aspects of consideration when comparing two similar tools given that in most modern companies, people work in teams and groups to maximize efficiency and productivity.

Figma

Figma has amazing collaborative features. This is one of its major selling points. As a browser based app, Figma allows full real-time collaboration on projects and files. With Figma, users can easily share project files with team members and have them directly edit, comment and even share with other members. This is an amazing functionality given the importance of remote collaboration in modern technology companies. Features like file sharing and collaboration are mostly important to designers working in remote teams as it gives them the ability to collaborate on project files.

Figma did not stop there; it has another feature called the multiplayer that allows users not only to edit a file at the same time as others but also to watch somebody else work in a design and communicate changes with the built-in commenting system.

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Sketch

With the help of plugins and libraries, Sketch allows for teams to collaborate on project files. Sometimes these plugins are proprietary and you might not want to pay some money just to have someone else work on your project with you.

That said, even with plugins, Sketch doesn’t have any feature that allows you watch and monitor the activities of another user as they work on your project in real-time. When collaboration matters most to you in choosing a design tool, Figma will be your best option.

Platform support

Platform support defines how much a particular tool can be accessed from other development systems. The number of users of a particular tool sometimes depends on how many platforms it supports.

Figma

Figma runs in the browser hence, it is platform independent. It runs on any device that can connect to the internet; Mac, Windows, Linux and even mobile devices alike. It can be used right in your web browser, on basically any device in the world.

With Figma, there’s no installation required. Just open a web browser, set up an account and start designing. Figma has standalone desktop apps for Windows and MacOS, but basically, they are really just wrappers of the browser version. While they give you better support for keyboard shortcuts, they still don’t save you from having to be online all the time.

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Sketch

Unlike Figma, Sketch is a Desktop app that is only accessible by Apple computers. This is actually the major difference between these two design tools. While Figma runs completely in the browser and is accessible by a wide range of devices, Sketch is limited to just Apple computers.

That said, technically, you could still get Sketch running on Windows, as Martijn Schoenmaker and Oscar Oto Mir described, but it might still not be worth the hassle for some. As a result, a few paid services have emerged that enable you to provide teammates with specifications of Sketch files, but that’s still an undesirable extra step.

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File type support

File types define the file extension types that these tools can export to and import from. Whenever you receive a new project, you’d first like to be certain that your design tool accepts the file type of the design after which you can then open the file and continue working on it or just rebuild afresh if it doesn’t.

Figma

Figma can open Sketch files in an impressively accurate way. However, it does not export files in formats that can easily be opened in other design tools which makes it somewhat restrictive.

Once you start designing in Figma, you are bound to it. It can’t export back to Sketch, nor is it capable of creating PDF files (or importing them). There is an option to export to SVG, but that’s not the ideal format in which to exchange complex files between design applications.

Figma exports files in the following formats:

  • PNG
  • JPG
  • SVG

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Sketch

Unlike Figma, Sketch supports exports in very diverse formats. With Sketch you can export files into other design tools and immediately get started working on them with ease.

Another win for Sketch is that Figma doesn’t allow users to set the desired file quality level during export. The latest version of Sketch allows for quality level setting during export and even improves the exporting options further as it allows you to set both a prefix and a suffix for file names.

Sketch exports files in the following formats:

  • PNG
  • JPG
  • TIFF
  • WebP
  • PDF
  • EPS
  • SVG

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Accessibility

Accessibility defines how easy it is to use these tools. Most times, it is difficult to navigate round some design tools and quickly get things done the right way. This also relates to item positions, keyboard shortcuts and the overall user experience.

Figma

Figma shares many keyboard shortcuts with Sketch. It has amazing view layouts and the important assets are right where you need them. With Figma you can speed up project time if you leverage all the available shortcuts and familiarize yourself with the content positioning on the app.

However, because Figma lives in the browser, customizing default system commands and shortcuts are not possible. Unlike sketch, you can’t configure an existing keyboard shortcut to a more comfortable key combination as is obtainable in Sketch. While the Figma Desktop app makes up for a few of this native features, certain functions simply can’t be assigned to the keyboard due to a lack of certain menu bar commands.

Sketch

In Sketch, almost everything can be achieved with a key press. Given that it is a Desktop application, it has a lot more native functionality than Figma. Moreso, Sketch allows users to alter the default system shortcuts and customize a more comfortable key combination to override the default shortcuts in the system preferences.

Sketch has amazing asset arrangements. All the tools you need are right where you want them to be. Since it shares a high similarity with Figma, it is quite easy for users coming from Figma to easily understand the Sketch layout and item positions.

Sketch also has loads of plugins that extends its abilities. With Sketch plugins, you can rename multiple layers at once, create dynamic buttons, save and load color palettes, easily insert images from Unsplash, enable Git functionality and create animations right in Sketch, just to name a few.

Pricing

Pricing defines the cost of using this tools and what services are available to you and at what cost. Most development tools offer basic services on a free plan and provide more extended features on paid plans.

Figma

Figma has a free plan that allows users to work with the tool for free. You don’t have to pay anything for as long as you want. However, your access to certain features are limited. There are also paid plans where you can choose to pay monthly or annually depending on the size of your team and on what features you need for your project.

The most expensive Figma plan that gives access to all the available features is still cheaper than the Sketch personal plan.

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Sketch

Sketch also has a free plan where users are allowed to use the app without any initial financial commitments. However, you’re limited to just the basic features.

On the paid plan, you pay $99 for a license which lasts for one year, at which time you’ll automatically receive all updates made to the Sketch app. Upon the expiration of the yearly license, you will retain access to your current Sketch features indefinitely, however, you won’t be able to receive new updates until your license is renewed.

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To collaborate on a design file on first use, you will need to install a licensed copy of the Sketch app. However, Figma is free for any number of people, pending when you decide to create team projects, at which point you’ll be required to pay $12 a month per editor. Unlike Sketch, anyone can open a Figma file without installing an app; they can also review and distribute comments  for free.

Conclusion

Both Figma and Sketch offer amazing user interface design features. In this post we have compared a few factors to give you a head start on deciding which of them is best suited for the kind of project you’re working on. However, this is not all they offer. With a little more research you will find more resources and documentation to help you explore all the the features of this tool and further solidify your choice.

Figma vs Sketch: What are the differences?

Developers describe Figma as "The collaborative interface design tool". Figma is the first interface design tool with real-time collaboration. It keeps everyone on the same page. Focus on the work instead of fighting your tools. On the other hand, Sketch is detailed as "Professional Digital Design for Mac". Easily create complex shapes with our state-of-the-art vector boolean operations and take advantage of our extensive layer styles.

Figma and Sketch belong to "Graphic Design" category of the tech stack.

According to the StackShare community, Sketch has a broader approval, being mentioned in 333 company stacks & 108 developers stacks; compared to Figma, which is listed in 66 company stacks and 56 developer stacks.

Advice on Figma and Sketch
Needs advice
on
Zeplin
InVision
and
Figma

Hello, I want to start an unlimited graphic design service. (yes, yet another one, but bear with me)

It’s the second week that I’m working on this project, my goal is to test the market as soon as possible.

One element that is missing is the solution to handle communication between the clients and the designers.

• Mandatory: it needs to communicate instructions, progress/status, and design files (exported from Adobe Illustrator or similar). • Optionally it would also display the design inside the app so the files don’t need to be opened. • Optionally it would let the client easily mark the design where he wants revision.

• Mandatory: it needs to have unlimited clients and unlimited projects (I’ll have hundreds of clients and each will have at least one project) • Optionally it would auto-assign a new project to the first available designer, or let the designers choose themselves which project they want to work on • Optionally it would have groups (corresponding to a subscription plan) with different clients and different designers in each • Optionally it would communicate with other apps so that client and designer management tasks (access, payment, etc) can be automated

I’m open to all suggestions, not just the selection above. Ultimately I guess I’ll have a custom app developed on a no-code platform, but to begin with I need something simple and ready.

Reminder: it is only for graphic design, between my designers and my clients

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Replies (2)
Recommends
Sketch

Zeplin is great for Developer handoff and setting as source of truth for Design and Developemt. InViosion is the standard for communicating/testing design ideas and prototypes with stakeholders. Both applications offer unlimited projects. I use them on a daily basis at big enterprises and for small weekend projects.

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Mert Torun
Product designer at Mert Torun · | 3 upvotes · 49.9K views
Recommends
Basecamp

I have been using Basecamp since 2008 to handle my client communications. I have gone through all of its three iterations.

I'd recommend Basecamp above the others because:

  • It is a communication tool through and through. Looking at your description, that seems to be what you need. Zeplin is a developer handoff tool. It isn't designed to cover a more broad use case as you describe. Invision has some features that you want, but it is primarily a tool for building quick low-fidelity prototypes from website mockups. Figma is a great design tool. For the last two, communication is a secondary feature.
  • It was designed by a design agency (37 Signals) for their own needs, which were quite similar to yours. (They later closed the agency to focus on Basecamp as a product full-time)
  • It has flat pricing that doesn't count the number of projects, clients or team members you have. You don't have to think twice about opening another project or inviting another user. You always pay the same price.
  • It can separate team and client communications. The team can talk about something without the client ever seeing it, in the same context.
  • It can keep todo lists, which I think you will need anyway.
  • Access control is based on projects. Every team member or client will only see the projects they are invited to. They will not even know the existence of others. (Except admins. They can see and join all projects)
  • It is easy to understand and use. The design is free of clutter and easy on the eyes. Your clients (especially the tech-averse ones) will appreciate it.
  • It has mobile/desktop apps with the full functionality of the web app. You won't have to wait for someone to sit down to get a quick approval.

The only real downside for me was the lack of language support in the user interface. You will be fine if your users understand some very basic written English. Some of my clients did not, so I had to walk them through it.

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What are some alternatives to Figma and Sketch?
InVision
InVision lets you create stunningly realistic interactive wireframes and prototypes without compromising your creative vision.
Adobe XD
A vector-based tool developed and published by Adobe Inc for designing and prototyping user experience for web and mobile apps.
Zeplin
Collaboration app for designers & developers. Supports Sketch and Photoshop (on beta!).
ProtoPie
It is the easiest tool used to turn your UI/UX design ideas into highly interactive prototypes for mobile, desktop, web, all the way to IoT. ProtoPie runs on macOS & Windows and the player app is on iOS and Android.
Framer
Framer is a JavaScript framework that makes creating realistic prototypes a breeze – complete with filters, spring physics and full 3D effects. Framer Generator is a desktop app that imports the resources and folder hierarchy from Photoshop files (Sketch coming soon). Import your design and immediately start to add interaction and animation.
See all alternatives