#config2021 Figma conference

Impressions from participation in the conference # Config2021 organized by Figma.
28 April 2021

Few days ago, April 21-22nd, the #Config2021 conference by Figma had place. A virtual event where Figma users come together to learn from each other. Here are some thoughts right after the confrence Config2021. I’ve listed all the talks that I was attending with my takeaways on them.

Right in the beginning, Dylan Field, (CEO of Figma) started with what’s new on the Figmaverse (I made up this word right now). There were several big announcements: 

  • branching & merging for org teams 
  • new Figma mobile app 
  • new product: FigJam (this one right here is the most exciting part for me) 
  • Audio calls in Figma 

FigJam is an online whiteboard for team collaboration and I’m excited for this for several reasons: 

  • I can use my Figma designs inside FigJam for extended possibilities that Figma gives 
  • I don’t have to switch between Miro and Figma from now on 
  • I love that FigJam reinvented and introduced some new ideas (emojis, comments on cursor and so on) 
     

The journey to interactive components

This presentation was great on two levels, one that it was technical so I can grasp the idea on how interactive components was possible to build by Figma developers. Secondly, I was astonished at how usable interactive components can be in my daily work.

For example, there were situations where I needed several radio buttons in one place. Anyone who tried to make radio buttons work in a prototype knows that it was a lot of work.

Prototyping in Figma

This simple example is just the tip of the iceberg of how complex checkboxes need several views to prototype it well.

Now everything is changed with interactive components, because from now on it’s possible to make connections to different component variants inside them!

Interactive components

After the talk, I’ve registered for closed beta and I encourage you to do the same (link for registration form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSctELo9clvK0uP-0zDAxMqrgtCNyK0OB2hff6O7SnK9y4jo5g/viewform)

Pushing Figma to its limits

This presentation went above my wildest expectations. It was stacked with tips & tricks from four different people that have approx. 5min for each presentation. 

Here are some hacks that I was able to capture:

  • 0px hack and how it can be used
  • auto layout for advanced use 

Everything was presented at a fast pace so it was hard to capture everything, I will be waiting when this talk will be published on youtube to deep dive into these hacks in the future. 

Everything is not fine (and that’s okay) 

The last Wednesday talk I was attending was about mental health. This topic is really important for me because I’m trying to be more aware of burnout symptoms. 

Nannearl Brown, speaker of this talk were making great points and I was able to write down some quotes: 

  • we don’t have to be okay all the time and it’s fine
  • do breaks often, to refresh energy and focus
  • listen with the intent to understand, not to respond

Those words made an impact on me and inspired me to think about this more often than I usually do. So here it is, my takeaways on first day of the #config2021 conference by Figma and for those who are yet interested there is more to know from the next day. 

Confessions of a flawed designer 

Pablo was sharing a story that at the beginning of his design journey he had a hard time describing what he’s really doing as a job. At first, he was defending his work and taking feedback seriously because he thought it was competition. He thought that approval from stakeholders in the meeting room was more important than resolving real user problems. 

He later understood that giving to the community and sharing his knowledge with people is the key to overcome his ego. 

This talk reminded me of two things: 

  • that not everyone needs to understand what you do as a designer and that’s okay, you don’t have to be defensive and mad every time someone is generalizing your profession 
  • don’t compare yourself with other designers, collaborate with them 
     

Low fidelity design - a guide to making your design process inclusive 

So the talk started about the type of developer that feels disempowered. Design is his source of truth and all he can do is to make it look just like in the mocks. 

But there are some ways to pull developers into the design process so they have an impact on the product. 

It turns out that low fidelity concepts and designs are really good at getting people to design without realizing that they’re designing. They can see that you’re early in the process so they are more likely to give feedback because it’s clear that the low fidelity concept is ready to be changed. 

The one thing that designers can do to check if feedback from others is genuine is to present good and not-so-good ideas. This way other people (like developers) can acknowledge that even they are able to give feedback that is helpful. 

Takeaway: 

  • working with low-fidelity designs makes room for unfiltered feedback that is the most valuable thing that researcher and designer can get from people (all kind of people, from stakeholders to developers and end customers) 
     

Building Sticker Sheets to scale design systems 

This talk was a mix between presentation and working with files. In the beginning, Angela and Santiago were talking about some of the most common problems that can occur while creating and managing a design system: naming convention, no rules, external libraries, project scope, no personality of sticker sheets. 

The second part of the talk was in the Figma file where the sticker sheet and design system was presented. 

My thoughts on this talk: 

  • Santiago made a great point at the end of the talk that in the near future there will be professions like “Design System Consultant” because of the quick expansion 

Also, it was nice to look at the more complex design systems that I’m using every day, I duplicated some pages to look at them closed later.  

Conclusions from the conference 

In this way, the #config2021 conference by Figma came to a close. Those two days were great, I learned a lot from talks that I participated in. I can’t wait for the next conferences/meetups that I will be part of and  genuinely recommend taking part to anyone looking to grow as a Designer. 


Author

Damian Małek, UX Designer/Web developer, Ideo.

https://damianmalek.medium.com/

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