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21 Mar /Sketch vs. Figma for Remote Teams

Posted by Amber Frank

Sketch has long been used for prototyping, but how does it stack up against it’s newest competition, Figma? We’ll take a look at which is the better tool for teams working remotely.

Desktop vs. Web

Sketch is a powerful desktop app, while Figma lives on the web. Figma also offers a desktop app, but being primarily web-based allows for features that just aren’t possible with Sketch, such as real-time collaboration and ease of sharing with other team members that don’t have the program installed on their desktop.

Collaboration

Because Sketch is desktop based, only one person can edit a file at a time. If you have a design team that consists of more than one person, this creates lots of issues when there are multiple team members on the same project. Figma lets you share design files and collaborate in real-time, similar to Google Docs, which means there’s no need to later compare files and find the source of truth for the latest version; there’s only one.

Version history

Sketch allows users to manually revert to a previously saved version, but if you forgot to save, you’re out of luck. In Figma, every change to a product is saved automatically to the cloud, and version control lets users rewind a project to previous states.

Plugins

Sketch has tons of third-party plugins on the web that can be installed to add new features and efficiency to your workflow. Figma allows users to search for and install plugins all within the app, and updates are automatic because everything is in the cloud.

Prototyping

Sketch’s tools for prototyping are relatively basic, with some simple animations. Sharing prototypes requires them to be uploaded to the cloud first, and any major changes require a new link. Figma’s prototyping is much more powerful with advanced animations. Plus, sharing a prototype is easy; just get a link from right within Figma.

Developer Handoff

In order to hand your Sketch designs over to your dev team, you must use a third party application like Zeplin. Figma has developer handoff built in, so no need to export your files for handoff.

Design Systems

Sketch allows users to create a library of symbols, text styles, and layer styles that can be shared with other team member with Sketch Cloud. However, it must be manually saved and updated by anyone who is using it (even when it’s linked to the cloud, you still must click the notification to implement the latest version). Figma creates a living design system made of components that is automatically updated and applied.

Here at T R I M, we’ve personally experienced the pain points of being a remote team using Sketch. Having even just two designers work on the same project still proved difficult when we were both working at the same time and later when it came time to combine our files and figure out who has the latest/most up-to-date version. Also, one slip up of forgetting to upload a file can throw off an entire week’s work when someone goes on vacation. Having everything based on the web and automatically upload to the cloud is a saving grace for a remote team to be able to work together efficiently.

BOTTOM LINE: Figma picks up the slack where Sketch falls short for collaboration for remote teams. 

No need to constantly upload files and no more wondering who has the latest version. While Sketch has Sketch Cloud, it still requires you to manually upload it the first time and only updates when you manually save. It doesn’t allow users to work on the same document and you must still download it to be able to edit it. 

Which tool does your team prefer?