figma vs sketch who’s the winner?

Figma vs Sketch

Daniel Scott


Hi, everyone!

In this post, we will focus our attention on two of the most powerful User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) tools known to the design industry: Figma and Sketch!

I will start by revealing that in competition between Figma vs Sketch, the winner is you, the user and designer who, alone or in a team, in a small studio or a large agency, has at your fingertips, two software tools that will accelerate your work and allow your imagination to flow without limits.

I won’t be handing out scores or telling you which is the best. Rather, I’ll provide an overview of both tools to help you make the right choice for your objectives. 

In this post, I’ll guide you through the platforms they run, their similarities and differences, online and offline cooperation, plugins, and other features that will clear your doubts and help determine the best tool for your needs. .

Could be Figma, could be Sketch – hey, could be both!

Are you ready? Let 's do this!

figma and sketch icons testing user experience on mobile phone

Figma and Sketch are two industry favorites in UX and UI design

Figma vs Sketch: Friends with (different) benefits

figma and sketch icons posing with crossed arms

More siblings than rivals, Figma and Sketch have many design features in common.

A bit of context before we dive into each of these tools: 

Sketch was launched in 2010 and has more than a million users. Many of its fans are Apple users who stay loyal to Apple products. Sketch fans love the exclusive ecosystem, intuitive design, usability, and powerful performance.

Figma was launched in 2013 and already has over four million users worldwide! Figma’s online model, wide accessibility on different platforms, and agile cooperative work features have won the hearts and minds of designers everywhere.

Let’s have a look at the features they have in common:

Figma and Sketch are design software tools that create interfaces, such as websites, applications, and dashboards for a wide variety of devices. Let’s look at the top use cases: 

  • Vector drawing editors, excellent for creating responsive and customizable elements like icons, buttons or UI Cards.

  • Prototype modes for quick and efficient testing of user flows and interactions.

  • A vast set of plugins that boost your productivity to Pro levels.

Now let’s see what sets these two tools apart:

  • Figma is an accessibility champion. It works in-browser, with cloud storage and sharing. This means that Figma is available on PC Windows, Apple iOS, or Linux, and projects can be edited and shared in real time by a team using different equipment and operating systems.

  • As an important detail to consider, Figma depends on an internet connection for maximum efficiency. There is a desktop application for Windows and Mac, but it works with cached information and depends on an internet connection to create new files, which can be a big “no-no” for those who need to work offline.

  • Sketch is a work-anywhere champion. As a desktop application, it’s available only for Apple computers, and this dependence on Apple’s ecosystem may be its greatest limitation.

  • On the bright side, it is excellent offline software, allowing for privacy and local storage, without needing an internet connection to create a UI project from scratch to prototype. Apple has managed to develop a widely used application for sharing and comments, but nevertheless, the design work is limited only to Macs.

Learning and Usability in Figma vs Sketch

figma and sketch icons wearing graduation hats learning new features online

Figma and sketch have a vast array of guides and tutorials online.

Figma and Sketch are very intuitive tools that are easy to learn and use. Migrating between the two is not complicated – after some time working with Sketch you won’t have too much difficulty adapting to Figma and vice versa.

Learning and Usability in Figma 

  • Figma’s simplified and logical interface, combined with its in-browser capability and excellent collaboration dynamics, allows any designer to start creating prototypes quickly. 

  • Integrated real-time collaboration makes it so teams can easily work together and benefit from a learning interaction.

  • Figma’s help center stands out for the quality and quantity of tutorials and comprehensive guides that cover all relevant processes, from the most basic, such as interpreting the interface’s different menu items to complex prototype settings.

  • Another strong positive is the Figma Community, where members share templates, plugins, and design systems.

Learning and Usability in Sketch

  • Sketch, a long-time star in UI design, has a clean and balanced layout and the robustness and safety of offline work.

  • For less experienced designers, Sketch’s learning curve is not as smooth as Figma’s, but the software’s longevity means there are a vast range of resources, courses, and online tutorials. 

  • The need to use plugins and integrations for teamwork or to increase Sketch’s functionalities can make learning the software a bit more complex, but on the other hand, it allows for a stronger adaptation to a project’s specific needs.

Figma is appealing to entry-level designers and multidisciplinary teams, while Sketch  is often preferred by more experienced designers who want precise control of the functionalities of their prototypes.

Pro tip: Whether you use Figma or Sketch, designers must stay up to date with new trends and technology, changes in user behavior, and market innovations to successfully adapt to the demands of each moment. A good designer is always learning. 


Prototyping in Figma vs Sketch 

figma and sketch icons up to the knees in post-it notes

Figma and Sketch are valuable prototyping tools, but there is no true UX design without post-it notes!

After all the UX research and UI design work, it is necessary to simulate the user experience through prototype testing.

Designers must ensure that all user flows are complete, without errors or broken links, and that the principles of accessibility have been met.

Prototyping in Figma 

  • Figma has an integrated Prototyping mode, which allows for the creation of prototypes very similar to a final digital product, without any coding. With both Design and Prototype modes integrated into the same workspace, team members can easily transition between the two for quick previews and updates.

  • It is also easy to Share the prototype with users, developers, or stakeholders for feedback and usability testing.

  • Through the Smart Animate feature and interactive components, it is possible to develop animations and micro-interactions that will create a special dynamic in your prototypes.

  • For more advanced design and more complex applications, it is possible to use variables, conditional logic, and pure mathematics to add greater realism to each prototype.

In conclusion, Figma offers an all-in-one environment for creating, testing, and sharing prototypes, which favors collaborative work and efficient workflows.

Prototyping in Sketch

  • Sketch, unlike Figma, doesn’t feature Prototyping as an integrated tool. However, Sketch has a series of settings for designing interactions that give the prototypes a more authentic stimulating experience.

  • Designers can create hotspots, clickable points to advance or retreat in the user flow.

  • It is possible to define scroll areas within the Artboards to navigate content in multiple directions.

  • Sketch allows designers to configure layers visibility to control how and when each one appears in the prototype.

  • Designers can fix elements like navigation bars, call-to-action buttons, or toolbars while scrolling the prototype.

  • As for sharing and previewing, Apple has developed an app for Mac, web, and iOS devices that resolves Sketch’s native limitations in this aspect.

In summary, Sketch’s prototyping prioritizes intuitive use and desktop environment work. Users also feel protected from online interference and some prefer relying on their computer’s specifications rather than internet bandwidth. 

 Timeout #1

Check out this article on UI design principles. The better you understand how UX and UI work, the more efficiently you will be able to explore the full potential of both Figma and Sketch.

Responsive Design in Figma vs Sketch 

small figma icon amazed with at a larger sketch icon’s responsiveness

Figma and Sketch use different methods for responsive design.

Responsiveness is essential for building a prototype with high usability, utility, equity, and that ensures good emotional responses across multiple environments and devices.

Responsive design in Figma

  • Figma presents a set of solutions that allow all elements to smoothly adjust to various screen sizes.

  • Auto Layout is the crown jewel. With this tool, you can resize, reposition, or keep objects linked to a responsive parent frame.

  • Layout Grids are fantastic for drawing and organizing layouts, as they resize for different screen sizes.

  • Constraints allow you to define the behavior of objects during resizing in terms of size and location.

  • Combining Layout Grids and Constraints allows for the creation of highly responsive layouts.

Responsive Design in Sketch

  • Sketch, originally designed for individual work, can meet the needs for responsive design but is dependent on plugins and third-party integrations for high quality results.

  • Group Resize allows users to maintain the proportions of their elements when resizing for different devices, but has limitations regarding the available options.

  • There is a third-party Auto Layout plugin for Sketch, that responds efficiently to modifications and changes in the orientation of the artboards.

Figma has more focus on responsive design based on native solutions. Sketch uses the array of available plugins to compete with Figma in this field. Both offer excellent tools for multiple screen design.

Plugins and Integrations in Figma vs Sketch

figma and sketch icons standing in front of a pile of colorful boxes

Figma and Sketch offer a great number of plugins and integration for enhancing your UI toolbox

First, let’s understand the difference between plugins and integrations.

Plugins are software add-ons installed in applications like Figma or Sketch to expand the quantity of available tools and simplify specific design processes. Integrations are connections between different software through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). They allow for communication and data sharing and are excellent solutions for complex workflows that involve the simultaneous operation of several applications.

Figma’s web-based model allows for multiple plugins to enhance its response capabilities to the most diverse design needs. Here are some of the most common plugins:

  • Unsplash – allows the direct introduction of royalty-free images into different frames and components.

  • Palette – generates color palettes to assist with color management and the creation of styles for greater consistency and organization.

  • Content Reel – allows the direct import of text content, icons, and multiple images for quick creation of design elements.

  • Color Contrast Checker – checks all frames to ensure that color use respects the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). 

One of Sketch’s strengths is the vast array of plugins and integrations to increase its usability, sharing among teams, and communication with other applications. Some examples of the most used plugins:

  • Prism – facilitates the sharing of color palettes for greater design consistency.

  • Paddy – allows for automatic configuration of padding, spacing, and alignment values for layers and artboards.

  • Rename It – helps to better organize Sketch files by allowing batch renaming of different layers and artboards.

  • Anima – an animation creation tool to enrich different user flows and user experience.

In summary, plugins and integrations are key resources for both Figma and Sketch, allowing designers to adapt the software to the needs of each design and opening access to functionalities that enable the creation of more complex prototypes.

Libraries and Design Systems in Figma vs Sketch 

figma and sketch icons wearing artist berets, looking at color styles on a mobile phone

Libraries can be used to save different format styles across multiple projects.

Designers want to create quality prototypes that are user friendly and responsive. For this, they need to design efficiently, and consistently.

Libraries are repositories for design elements and styles that can be shared and applied to prevent inconsistencies. Design Systems are one of the foundations of a brand’s identity and ensure that all communication and applications follow omnichannel coherence and consistency standards.

Libraries in Figma 

  • Figma works with integrated and easily accessible libraries, where it is possible to organize components, variables, and multiple format, color, and paragraph styles. Stored in a single file, they are easily shared with other files and projects. As tools for cooperation and productivity, any modifications made to their elements are immediately reflected in all the files where the library was applied.

  • This optimized and versatile use of different libraries allows the use and creation of design systems that can be shared within a team, organization, or even with the entire Figma Community.

Libraries in Sketch

  • In Sketch, libraries can be used by different team members to ensure that everyone is on the same page. When an element of a library is modified, the documents where it has been implemented receive a notification so that designers can approve and apply the changes.

  • The management of design systems in Sketch is more traditional, based on files, suitable for those who prefer, as we have seen before, an offline approach. However, this also ensures continuity and coherence throughout the design process.

For students who may be reading this post as they enter the world of UX and UI design for the first time, I’m happy to tell you that Google’s Material Design, Apple’s Human Interface, or Microsoft’s Fluent are some of the most complete design systems that are available to you. Study and apply them to your designs. It’s a great way to learn and to observe how you can speed up your workflow.

Timeout #2

Here are some tips on how to improve communication between designers and developers. A strong connection is the key for UX and UI design success.  

Developer Handoff in Figma vs Sketch

figma and sketch icons walking together, holding packages for delivery

Developer handoff is a moment for celebration, your prototype is ready for development!

Finished your first fully functioning, highly tested, high-fidelity prototype? Time to translate all your work into code. Can Figma and Sketch deliver a smooth transition from design to development?

Developer handoff in Figma 

Figma makes developer handoff easy, as its features are integrated and make the best use of its online-based potential. Designers can inspect their designs, extract code, and export all assets directly to developers without ever leaving the workspace. Awesome! How does it work? Figma relies on handoff features like:

  • Dev Mode – Developers can use this view for inspection and design implementation.

  • Design Systems – Figma can align design system elements to tokens, simplifying language across shared design files and code.

  • Visual Studio Code Integration – A great integration that translates Figma design files into the VSC text editor for review and code suggestions.

Figma’s real-time collaboration features allows for everyone from designers to engineers to work with updated versions of the design in development.

Developer handoff in Sketch 

Designs in Sketch can be inspected and exported without using a Mac. This is big. We’ve already seen that Sketch is Mac exclusive, but Apple had to make sure that the developer handoff is flexible and stress free so Sketch relies on web-based handoff tools and features, accessible from any computer with an internet connection. 

  • Inspector Tool – Developers use this for design inspection on measurements, layer attributes and copy values.

  • Exporting Assets – Assets can be marked as exportable for developers to download.

  • Integration with platforms like Issue Tracking – this integration allows designers and developers to identify, prioritize, and solve problems that come up during the development stage.

Sketch’s intuitive and simplified use of these handoff tools helps developers make their magic without the need of a deep knowledge of how the design features work.

And there you have it! 

Now you know the difference between Sketch and Figma and can decide which is  the best option for your personal workflow, as well as your projects, users needs, and requirements.

What 's Next?

Now that you have bravely stepped into the world of UX and UI design, make sure to sign-up to BYOL and jump into my Figma Essentials and Advanced courses. When you become a BYOL member, you gain access to this course as well as my 30+ additional courses on After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, and more. As a BYOL member you will also enjoy personalized support, earn certificates, and tackle exciting community challenges. Head here to sign-up!

See you in class! – Dan

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