Design, UI, UX, Insights

Figma vs Sketch Review: Which is the Right Tool for You?

A Web-Based Multi-Platform System vs A Truly Native App

Sketch has been around for designers since day one setting the gold standard for what a UI design tool should look like. However, as the industry involved, other powerful tools entered the scene offering to handle wireframing, prototyping, mockups, developing, and ultimately creating complete high-fidelity designs. One of these tools is the multi-platform collaborative platform of Figma. In this Figma vs Sketch review, we’ll compare the two popular UI design tools to help you decide which one is a better match for you.

On one hand, we have the web-based multi-platform collaborative system Figma, while on the other, the truly native app Sketch. As usual, the purpose of this review isn’t to announce a winner. It’s an objective comparison between the two tools so you could easily discover which one suits your specific needs, workflow, budget, and preferences.

So which one is the right tool for you?

 

Quick Summaries

Let’s start with the basics of what you can expect from both Figma and Sketch, the highlights, and the drawbacks of each tool.

What is Figma?

Figma is a collaborative cloud-based interface design tool that works on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS, making it extremely versatile for a broader range of UI designers. Its collaborative nature allows users to share their work with team members to work alongside them in real-time.

It helps users create dynamic designs easily with the use of Autolayout which is great when you need to add new layers or maintain alignment as your designs evolve. In addition, the Smart Animate grants the ability to create complex animations.

Highlights:
  • Platforms: Browser-based
  • Features: FIGJAM whiteboard, Component states variants, Auto layout, Smart Animate, Real-time collab, Sharable prototype links
  • Imports: Sketch, Fig; FigJam; PNG, JPG, HEIC, GIF; SVG
  • Device Preview: iOS, Android
  • Plugins: Yes
  • App Integrations: Yes

One of the most favorite features amongst UI/UX designers is the online whiteboard FIGJAM for brainstorming, online presentations, creating diagrams, sitemaps, and team collab.

Figma Disadvantages:
  • Figma depends entirely on an internet connection, so you can’t use it offline.
  • The tool doesn’t have global colors in its module, which can make it difficult to customize a file.
  • Figma runs only a RAM system above 4GB with a high-quality graphics card.
  • Figma is free for individual designers but costs money for teams with more than two designers (editors).

 

What is Sketch?

Sketch is a gold standard in what a UI design tool should look like. Released in 2010, it was the first powerful tool specifically made for digital rather than print design. The tool is native and requires an installation and works only on macOS.

Highlights:
  • Platforms: macOS only
  • Features: Vector editing; Artboard Presets; Infinite Canvas; Detailed pixel alignment; smart guides; shared libraries, version history; drag-and-drop interface;
  • Imports: PNG, JPG, TIFF, WebP; FIG (Figma files); SVG, EPS; SVG code; PDF; AI and PSD.
  • Device Preview: iOS
  • Plugins: Yes
  • App Integrations: Yes

Sketch is also a highly customizable platform thanks to its huge selection of third-party plugins for translations, prototyping, animations, and handoff. It allows you to inspect and export individual assets and even create independent styles with colors, text, and a library of effects.

Sketch Disadvantages:
  • Only available on a Mac. Whether you need it for personal uses or for teamwork, everyone in your team needs a Mac; or else the PC users in your team will take the role of spectators in the project.
  • The real-time collaboration web app is still new with limited functionality.
  • You need the software installed locally on your device.
  • You might need to use InVision, Abstract, or Zeplin in addition to Sketch.

 

What are the Key Differences Between Figma and Sketch?

The main differences between the two prototyping tools concern their compatibility, pricing, and features.

Differences in Compatibility

In regards to compatibility, Figma is compatible with any operating system that runs a web browser. However, as in any browser-based tool, it may get very inconvenient for designers who need to work offline. Not all Figma functionalities are available in offline mode, not to mention designers need to save their files manually since the autosave doesn’t work when there’s no internet connection.

There’s also an option for mobile devices if you feel like installing additional apps. Figma Mirror allows you to view your designs from the Figma desktop app live across all of your devices running iOS and Android. However, you will only access the View Only version of your files.

Sketch, on the other hand, works only on macOS. There are ways to interpret Sketch files on Windows, such as a dedicated Windows app and importing Sketch files in Adobe XD. However, this is not a safe option and you will inherently need a Mac device to work and edit Sketch files properly.

Pricing Differences

Figma offers three pricing plans, including a Free Forever plan for 3 Figma and 3 FigJam files, unlimited cloud storage, unlimited collaborations, mobile app access, and the ability to use Figma plugins, widgets, and templates. The free plan is ideal for small teams allowing two users to edit a file at the same time and having an unlimited number of viewers.

However, for larger teams with more projects and the need to add custom user permissions and shareable team libraries, the premium plans are a better fit.

Professional $12 per editor per month: This plan includes unlimited Figma files; unlimited versions history; shared and private projects; team libraries; sharing permissions options and audio conversations.

Organizational $47 per editor per month: Offers everything in Professional plus design system analytics; branching and merging; centralized file management, unified admin and billing; private plugins and widgets, and more.

Figma also offers an Enterprise tier for $75 per editor per month with advanced security features and more control. And last, Figma Professional is free for students and educators to use, once they register themselves.

Sketch doesn’t offer a free version, however, they provide a one-time payment of $99 with the option for annual renewal which costs $79 per year. For team plans, the official Sketch website offers a pricing calculator where you can get the exact price per month based on how many editors will participate. The price for an editor per month is $9 for Standard; and $20 for Business. 

Standard offers unlimited free viewers forever; sharing, inspecting, and export options; real-life collab on Mac; versioning; offline design; annotations; and iPhone previews. The Business plan offers everything from Standard and adds  Single Sign-On; unlimited cloud storage; invoices; custom permissions; priority support and custom security reviews and terms.

User Experience Differences

Sketch, being the golden standard for prototyping tools has a very intuitive interface and it’s very easy to get used to. Figma looks pretty similar to Sketch in terms of interface, so switching between the two tools is an easy task.

However, you’ll find the terminology a bit different. For example, Figma uses Frames and Components, while Sketch uses Atrboiards and Symbols instead.

There are also a couple of features that these tools handle differently.

Components and Symbols: Both Figma and Sketch include symbol elements. Sketch offers users a Symbols Page where any changes made to a particular symbol apply to its respective element anywhere in the project. In Figma, there is no separate Component page, but original master components that you need to copy. You can still edit the master components and the instances where the element appears in the design will also get updated.

Vectors: Both tools feature basic vectoring tools such as a free-form vector tool, shapes, and booleans. In Sketch, users can make different types of points and draw vectors in more detail. In Figma, users can connect several lines at a single point (vector networks), as well as use the pen tool.

Different Approach to Styles

Design systems depend on using styles. Designers can save a set of design elements as styles and reuse them across boards to save time. Figma and Sketch both share this feature, however, they handle it differently.

Figma uses the cascade approach for styles which gives design elements independence from the style. This means designers can create and save styles for various types of design elements and match them with other sets of elements later on.

Sketch, on the other hand, offers two types of styles (layer or text). where the elements are established for each as follows: fonts, colors, and effects for text styles; and fills, borders, effects, and other layer elements for layers. Designers, however, can edit symbols for elements in a style, which gives them some flexibility.

 

Figma vs Sketch: Features Comparison

Both tools have many key features that make them stellar and popular options throughout the UI design industry, so let’s take a look at what they offer in terms of design, prototyping, and collaboration features.

Design Tools

Figma has flexible grids and constraints for responsive and resizable layouts. Sketch on the other hand, also offers a group resizing feature with four options: stretch; pin to corner; resize objects; and float in place.

Both tools feature basic vectoring tools such as a free-form vector tool, shapes, and booleans. Figma uses vector networks instead of paths which allows lines and curves between any two points. Sketch easily fights this with its vast collection of plugins. You can basically design everything you want if you find the right plugin.

Prototyping

Originally, neither Figma nor Sketch had any prototyping features out of the box, however, as the market became more demanding in that department, both tools made some serious updates.

In terms of prototyping, Figma lets you connect UI elements with ease and choose the related interactions and animations. It also supports overlays when you link objects to other artboards. In addition, the tool is perfectly optimized for mobile so you will be able to see how users will experience the prototypes. On the downside, Figma doesn’t allow prototype linking between pages, I need to have them all on the same page.

With Sketch, the prototyping starts as a series of linked Artboards and tools to mimic live behavior by adding animations. You can also add prototyping plugins such as Mockplus Cloud, InVision Craft, and Flinto to make your process even smoother.

Figma offers more UI triggers: On Click, On Drag, While Hovering, Mouse Enter or Leave, and a few more. The only Sketch trigger is On Click.

When it comes to sharing prototypes, Figma is cloud-based which allows you to share your work with a single click. You can also do that in Sketch, however, you’ll need to upload your files into Sketch Cloud first.

Figma also has the popular Figma Smart Animate that seeks matching layers, recognizes the difference, and animates layers between frames in a prototype. With this feature, you can create loading sequences, parallax scrolling, touch gestures, expanding content, sliders, toggles, switches, and other advanced UX animations.

Live Collaboration

Both tools support collaboration, however, Figma was designed as a collaborative tool. It allows for a real-time live collaboration with instant synch on any platform, working together on the same project while making changes and leaving comments in real-time, similar to how Google Docs does it. Furthermore, you can even see the mouse movements of other users.

Another advantage for Figma in this category is FIGJAM. This collaborative whiteboard for brainstorming, planning, and everything else solves the need to use other tools for brainstorming.

With Sketch you can do a real-time collaboration and leave comments in a live chat, however, you first need to make sure everyone in your team uses a Mac; or else the PC users in your team will take the role of spectators in the project.

Plugins and Extensions

Plugins are a great way to expand the tool’s functionality by adding animations, prototyping tools, user data, and more customization options.

For those who prefer to customize their experience by adding extensions, Sketch offers a huge collection of third-party plugins such as Prism (for creating color palettes); Rename It (for changing multiple layers names at once based on name, number, height, and other factors); Content Generator (for generating realistic data for your design); InVision Craft (for creating prototypes between Sketch and Invision); and many many more.

Figma, on the other hand, has fewer plugins than Sketch, however, it has the Figma Plugins Show & Tell on the app’s release page. This includes a live stream where developers can share their homebrew plugins with live demos.

Amongst the most popular plugins for Figma, there are a few must-haves such as Autoflow (for creating a quick user flow); Batch Styler (for changing multiple fonts and colors at once); Chart (for generating real random data for charts); Content reel (for getting every single element you need from text strings and icons to avatars and images); and more.

 

Should You Learn Figma or Sketch?

Time for the final verdict. Based on the comparison review, let’s summarize what we’ve learned so far, so you could make a decision easily.

Let’s start with Figma.

✔️ You Should Learn Figma if:

  • You need to access it from everywhere on your browser: Figma is a cloud-based AIO solution for UI/UX design and prototyping built for the browser so it can be accessed on all major OS.
  • You need real-time collaboration with a big team: It’s built specifically for collaboration so you can edit your projects in real-time, see current changes, and embed comments and feedback directly in the design. Figma shares live-embed code snippets
  • You need permission-based sharing of files.: In addition, there are bug-tracking tools and community software for developers to share exactly what is needed.
  • It has Auto-Layout for dynamic designs and easy-to-use constraints.
  • FIGJAM creative space for brainstorming, team collab, user flows, and mapping.

Now let’s move to Sketch.

✔️ You Should Learn Sketch if:

  • You work on a Mac and prefer to work offline. There’s also no document size limit (via RAM usage limit)
  • You prefer to fully customize your workflow with third-party plugins. Sketch has extensions for everything.
  • You need user control over who sees your work.
  • Would like to speed up your work with artboard templates.
  • You wish to work with local documents.
  • Accurate colors are an absolute must. With Sketch, you can assign P3 or sRGB color profiles to all of your assets and documents.

 

To Sum Up

Both Figma and Sketch are splendid Ui design solutions that will help you design, wireframe, prototype, share, and export without the need for additional tools.

However, in order to make a decision on which tool is better for you, think about the specifics of your workflow and your priorities. Do you need to use your tool in a browser or do you need it to have an offline option? Do you work primarily on Mac or do you use a PC? How many people do you work with on the same project?

We hope this Figma VS Sketch comparison review helped you to sort it out.

Feeling motivated and inspired to roll up your sleeves? Awesome. In case you need a web development partner for your current and future projects, here at htmlBurger, we are more than glad to discuss your needs. Wanna talk?

In the meantime, why not have a look at some more inspirational and insightful articles on the topic of UI/UX design:

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