6 Basic Figma Techniques Every Designer Should Master

By Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder
Published: Mar 15, 2024
Learn essential Figma techniques: Canvas navigation, Inspector insights, components, variants, auto layout, prototyping, and responsive design.
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Mastering Figma is crucial for designers aiming to enhance efficiency and creativity in their projects. This guide outlines six fundamental Figma techniques every designer should know:

Utilize smart selection, prototyping, design systems, components and variants, auto layout, and collaboration tools for streamlined and effective design processes. 

These features enhance efficiency, consistency, and collaboration in your projects, ensuring professional and cohesive results across the board.

With these techniques, you will not only streamline your design process but also ensure your projects are adaptable and collaborative.

Navigating the Canvas
  • You can zoom in and out on your work area by using the Zoom control or pressing Ctrl + = to zoom in and Ctrl + – to zoom out on your keyboard.
  • To move around your view, use the Hand tool by clicking and dragging around.
  • The Move tool (V) lets you shift things around on your screen.
  • The Pages panel at the top left lets you see all your different pages. Click on one to select it.
Inspector and Properties
  • The Inspector on the right side shows you the settings for whatever you’ve clicked on.
  • Here, you can change things like size, color, and text to make your design look just right.
  • There’s a lock icon you can click to keep certain settings the same, which helps keep your design consistent.
  • In the Fill and Stroke sections, you can play with colors and effects.

Getting to know your way around Figma means you can work faster and more efficiently. Keep the Inspector open so you can quickly change settings as you work. 

And remember, using keyboard shortcuts can help you move around and make changes quickly. With a bit of practice, you’ll find Figma’s design tools are really user-friendly, helping you turn your ideas into real designs smoothly.

Mastering Components and Variants With Basic Figma Techniques

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An Introduction to Components

Think of components in Figma like Lego blocks. You make one block (or component), and you can use it over and over again in different parts of your design.

If you decide to change the color of that block, every place you use it gets updated automatically. This is super handy because it means you don’t have to go through each spot you used it to make changes.

Here’s why components are great:

  • Consistency – They make sure everything looks the same where it’s supposed to.
  • Efficiency – You save time since you only need to update a component once, not everywhere it’s used.
  • Organization – It helps keep your designs neat by cutting down on repeated stuff.
  • Reusability – Once you make a component, you can use it in many projects, not just one.

It’s a good idea to turn things you use a lot, like buttons or icons, into components. This way, you build a collection of pieces you can easily grab and use whenever.

Creating and Managing Variants

Variants are like different flavors of the same component. Say you have a button, but it needs to look a bit different when someone clicks on it or when it can’t be clicked. Instead of making a whole new button each time, you make variants – which are just different versions of the same button.

To make a variant:

  1. Click on a component you’ve made and find “Create Variant” in the settings on the right.
  2. Change how the new version looks right there on your screen or in the settings.
  3. Give it a name like “Button – Clicked” so you know what it is.

Now, when you use that button in your design, you can pick which version (or variant) you want to use. This keeps everything about that button together in one spot.

Other cool things you can do with variants are changing up the colors or effects, switching pictures or words, and making it fit better on different screens, like phones or computers

Using variants means you don’t end up with a ton of almost-the-same components cluttering things up. Everything stays organized and easy to find.

Efficient Use of Auto Layout for Basic Figma Techniques

Understanding Auto Layout

Auto layout in Figma is a tool that helps your designs adjust to different screen sizes easily. It’s like telling your design to keep things like space and size consistent, no matter if it’s being viewed on a phone or a computer. This makes sure your design looks good everywhere.

Why auto layout is great:

  • Consistency – Keeps your design looking the same across different devices.
  • Responsiveness – Automatically adjusts your design for screens of any size.
  • Efficiency – Change one part, and auto layout updates everything for you. This saves a lot of time.
  • Reusability – Set up once, use everywhere. This makes your work faster and easier.
Applying Auto Layout

Here’s how to use auto layout in Figma:

  1. Pick a frame or a bunch of elements you want to use auto layout with.
  2. In the Properties panel, turn on “Auto Layout”. This opens up more options.
  3. Choose if you want things to line up side by side or on top of each other.
  4. Decide on the space inside your frame so things don’t touch the edges.
  5. Set how much space you want between each item.
  6. Pick where items should sit inside the frame.
  7. Decide if you want to stack or hide items for different screen sizes.
  8. Try changing the frame size or switch between screen sizes to see how it looks.
  9. Once you’re done setting it up, auto layout takes care of making sure everything adjusts when the frame size changes!

With a little practice, auto layout can really speed up your work. It’s like having a smart assistant that makes sure your design always looks good, no matter where it’s being viewed.

Prototyping and Interactions

Building Prototypes

Prototyping in Figma lets you show how your design works by linking different screens together. Here’s how to make a prototype that makes sense:

  • First, organize your designs into frames that represent important screens or steps. Make sure to name them clearly.
  • To link frames, go to the Prototype tab, and hit “Create Prototype”.
  • Connect frames to show how users will move through your design.
  • Choose how screens change with transitions like fade or slide to make it smooth.
  • Add actions like taps or clicks to make your prototype interactive.
  • Share your prototype with others to get their thoughts and improve your design.

Prototyping is a great way to see if your design works well. It lets you and others understand the flow and fix any problems early on.

Adding Interactions

Making your prototype interactive with taps, triggers, and overrides makes it feel real in Figma:

  • Taps are when you make something happen by clicking or tapping an element.
  • Triggers let you add effects like hover without needing extra screens.
  • Overrides are for setting different states (like active or disabled) without having to copy everything.

Here are some ways to make your design interactive:

  • Link buttons to screens to show how users will navigate.
  • Add hover effects with triggers.
  • Show what happens when something is loading with overrides.
  • Change images or text with a tap.
  • Make elements move as you scroll for a cool effect.

Using these features wisely makes your prototype feel more like the real thing. Always test with users to make sure everything works as expected and tweak based on their feedback.

Leveraging Tools for Responsive Resizing

Responsive Design Basics

Responsive web design means making websites that look and work great on all kinds of devices, like phones and computers. The main ideas include:

  • Flexible layouts – Using sizes that can change (like percentages) instead of fixed sizes for things like pictures or column widths. This helps content adjust smoothly to different screen sizes.
  • Media queries – These are special rules that let you apply different styles based on things like how wide the screen is. It helps make sure your website looks good on any device.
  • Fluid media – This is about making images and videos fit their containers by changing size instead of being stuck at one size.
  • Responsive content – Changing content for smaller screens by doing things like simplifying menus or stacking items that are side by side on bigger screens.

Following these ideas is important because people use all kinds of devices to visit websites. Responsive design makes sure everyone has a good experience, no matter what device they’re using.

Using the Scale Tool

The Scale tool in Figma helps with resizing things easily while keeping everything looking right.

Here’s how to use it:

  • Pick a group, frame, or objects you want to resize.
  • Press K on your keyboard to start using the Scale tool.
  • Click and drag to resize. If you hold Shift while dragging, you’ll resize from the center.
  • You can also type in a specific size if you need to be really precise.
  • Right-click and hold to resize things in just one direction.

The Scale tool is great because it makes sure everything adjusts correctly when you’re changing sizes. This is super helpful for making sure your designs work on all kinds of screens, from phones to big monitors. Plus, it keeps everything looking sharp and in proportion.

Collaboration and Feedback

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Live Multi-Editor

Figma lets many designers work on the same project at the same time. This means you can see changes as they happen, without waiting for someone to send you an update. Here’s why it’s helpful:

  • You don’t have to worry about messing up someone else’s work.
  • It’s easy to see who’s doing what.
  • Less need to send messages back and forth.
  • Quicker to review and make changes.

This is great for teams in different places. Everyone can work together, no matter where they are.

Comments and Revisions

Comments

  • You can leave notes right on the design for others to see.
  • This starts conversations about specific parts of the project.
  • You get an email when there’s a new comment, so you’re always up to date.

Revisions

  • You can keep updating your design and save each update as a new version.
  • Look at old versions to compare.
  • If needed, you can go back to an earlier design with just a click.

These tools make it easy to get and keep track of feedback. Comments help everyone stay on the same page, and saving revisions means you can change things without losing any work. For teams working from different places, this makes sure everyone knows what’s going on and what’s expected at each step. All the talking and updating happens in Figma, so nothing gets lost, even if you’re in different time zones.

Continued Learning

Figma keeps getting new updates, so it’s a good idea to keep learning. Check out their blog and community to stay in the loop. They’re always adding cool stuff like the calculator and new ways to make prototypes.

If you want to get good, think about getting Figma’s Certification. This shows companies that you’re serious about your skills on the platform.

The main thing is to keep learning all you can about Figma and how to use it best. This makes sure you can offer a lot of value to companies looking for top-notch design help. Being a pro at Figma means you can do great work more quickly.

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Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder

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