Design, Technology

July 06, 2023

The Downside of Figma's Dev Mode: A Cautionary Tale

Figma’s Dev Mode has taken the design world by storm, but it’s important to explore both sides of the story. In this blog post, we delve into the events that led to Figma’s latest release at the Config23 Conference, shedding light on the potential drawbacks. Keep reading until the end to gain a comprehensive understanding.

Engaging in Dialogue

Designers are constantly on a quest to infuse meaning into the objects that shape their lives. They strive to create experiences that evoke beauty, wonder, and emotions, ultimately aiming to enhance the lives of others and make a meaningful impact on the world. In the minds of designers, they see possibilities that others may overlook. They seek out like-minded individuals who share their mindset and approach. Inspiration can manifest in various forms, including humans, objects, the environment, and the tools they use. Amidst a plethora of ideas, designers carefully select the ingredients, equipment, and environment that will best serve their creative process. Their search continues until they find the perfect companion tool that fulfills their needs.

Embracing the Digital Shift

In the past, designers had numerous options to choose from, but as the digital user experience (UX/UI) field began to flourish, those who ventured into the digital realm were at the forefront of this wave. This marked the transition from skeuomorphic design to flat design, an approach that combined pragmatism with tasteful aesthetics, offering a fresh perspective on digital product design. During this exciting time, designers explored how this new design language could thrive in the digital world. Collaboration was abundant, with platforms like InVision, Axure, Balsamiq, Sketch, Zeplin, Abstract, UXPin, and Framer, to name a few.

Enter Figma

Figma emerged as a significant player in this landscape. As designers embarked on their journey to expand their skills in digital product design, the race was on to stay up to date with the latest features and become early adopters of cutting-edge technologies. Tool providers faced the challenge of meeting designers’ demands while simultaneously responding to their competitors. InVision, for example, developed their own screen design tool following the success of their prototyping platform, while Sketch transitioned to the cloud to keep pace with other industry tools. The culture shifted, with the tech world embracing Agile and continuous delivery. Corporations learned from one another, timing product launches strategically to maximize shareholder value. Apple, under the leadership of Tim Cook, exemplified this anticipation-driven market rhythm.

The Passage of Time

As Figma entered the scene as a relatively new player, it operated within the same framework as other tool providers. However, like any startup, it had two sides: one focused on delighting its users and the other driven by the need to survive as a business. Figma’s original objective was to create free, simple, and creative tools in a browser, empowering anyone to be creative. This vision evolved to include collaboration, transparency, and community. Figma’s accessibility, coupled with features like a single source of truth for files, cross-platform support, and multiplayer editing, contributed to its success and resonated with designers’ pain points.

Yet, every coin has two sides. The darker side faced downward, highlighting the pressures and fiduciary duties associated with utilizing investors’ money. Founders of any startup are accountable to their initial backers, who expect returns on their investment. Figma, having raised a total of $333.4 million across seven funding rounds, reached a valuation of over $10 billion by May 2021. This valuation was indeed impressive, but every idea must have an end in mind. The typical paths for a company like Figma are to continue growing and eventually go public

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