A key component of any program or website is the user interface. Having the right tools can make UI design easier, letting you rapidly prototype and implement graphical designs and get high-quality results.
While Adobe still rules the roost regarding design tools, it may not be the ideal solution for every business. That’s why we’ve compiled this Figma vs. Adobe XD guide to help you find the best opinion that matches your design process, budget, and team needs.
What Is Figma?
Figma is a graphics editing and user interface design app. Unlike other desktop apps, Figma works in any browser, making it convenient for designers working from several computers and locations, as they won’t need to install any software or buy multiple licenses to access their projects.
Uses of Figma
While Figma is primarily a user interface design tool, it is flexible enough for all types of design work, including:
- Wireframing websites
- Designing mobile app interfaces
- Prototyping designs
- Crafting social media posts
- Complete website design
What Is Adobe XD?
Adobe XD is a vector-based design tool that lets you rapidly prototype, test, and deploy designs. While originally a prototyping tool, designers have leveraged the platform’s powerful features at every stage of the design project.
Uses of Adobe XD
Adobe XD is a UI design app but can handle many other use cases, including:
- Whiteboarding and user flows
- Animation and interaction design
- UX design
- Developer handoff
- Team collaboration
- Managing design systems
Figma vs. Adobe XD
While Figma and Adobe XD offer similar digital design features, they have enough differences that one will be a better fit for your productivity than the other. While we can’t name a clear winner in the Figma vs. Adobe XD debate, we can provide you with enough information to help you decide on a better product for your needs.
One of the biggest differences between Figma and Adobe XD is how users access them. Figma is a browser-based application, meaning that as long as a device has a browser, it can run Figma. Adobe XD is a desktop-based app, which means it’s only accessible through a computer on which you have installed the app. If you want to work from multiple locations with Adobe XD, you’ll need a separate installation for each device.
The web-based nature of Figma means you can work on any platform, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. The platform also offers a downloadable desktop app that runs on Windows, macOS, Linux, and the Figma Mirror app emulates iOS and Android devices.
Adobe XD’s desktop app runs on Windows and macOS, and the platform also has a mobile app for live previews. Unfortunately, Adobe XD does not offer support for Linux unless you’re willing to install a Windows or macOS emulator.
Winner: Figma has slightly more flexibility by offering a Linux-compatible desktop app and in-browser support. However, both platforms require an internet connection to access their full feature sets.
Prototyping and Design Process
Figma and Adobe XD are prototyping tools first, and they must have features to facilitate realistic conditions for testing prototypes of UI designs.
Figma allows for multiple interactions per element but only allows one of each interaction type. Every element may have a trigger interaction, an action, an easing, and a transition.
Adobe XD offers more versatility by allowing multiple interactions per element. This flexibility creates more realistic and interactive prototypes.
Winner: Adobe XD has more than one interaction per element, which better mimics real-world conditions. The limits of Figma’s prototyping tools become clear when you start to introduce more complex interactions.
Adobe XD and Figma provide CSS, iOS, and Android design specs.
Figma allows developers to inspect all aspects of the design file, including individual elements, layers, components, and interactions. Figma design files also contain any auto layout settings, which the developer can access through the inspect panel.
Adobe XD does not include the code in the main app interface. Instead, designers must first export the code to CSS and create a shareable link. Developers can use this link to access the CSS file in their browser and inspect each component.
Winner: Figma’s handoff process is more streamlined and robust. It allows developers to get a holistic understanding of all the tools in the design and how designers intend them to function. Developer handoff is slightly more complex in Adobe XD, and developers will need to inspect each element individually using the exported CSS code.
Both platforms offer plugin support, allowing designers to tailor their workflow and enhance functionality.
Figma established a plugin library in 2019 that contains thousands of design systems for Figma files, UI kits, mobile apps, and widgets to improve workflow.
Adobe XD benefits from a wider range of third-party plugins, as well as those from native Adobe developers. These plugins offer greater flexibility, allowing designers to streamline their workflow.
Winner: Adobe XD has more plugins for designing user interfaces and streamlining workflows. Its library of trusted free and paid third-party plugins and native apps can help designers and developers tailor their workflows for maximum productivity. While Figma has thousands of plugins for UX design, it can’t match the sheer volume of options that Adobe provides.
Language support is one of the few criteria with a clear winner in the Adobe XD vs. Figma debate.
Figma currently offers English support, while Adobe XD offers support for several languages, including German, French, Brazilian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and English.
Winner: If you have designers working in languages other than English, Adobe XD is your app of choice.
Collaboration and Screen Sharing
As a web-based app, Figma offers significantly more team collaboration features. Figma’s real-time accessibility feature, called multiplayer, allows unlimited users to connect to the same file simultaneously.
The web app also offers screen sharing and an observation mode that allows designers to show stakeholders their work, receive input, and make changes during the same session. Users can edit projects in real time, and the version history keeps track of changes relatively simple. Collaboration tools also allow users to edit or track comments and implement new features based on those comments.
Figma offers robust version control features, such as a file history of who made what changes and a rollback feature to revert to an earlier version.
Adobe XD offers Creative Cloud collaboration features and has recently started offering real-time screen-sharing tools. Adobe XD’s collaboration works by letting designers invite collaborators to coedit files in real time. Unlike Figma, Creative Cloud allows people to access files in various modes, including observation, presentation, and design modes. Users can also create shared links that allow others to view the file in a desktop browser and make comments, which the designer can edit, resolve, or delete.
Winner: Both Figma and Adobe XD offer excellent collaboration features that allow multiple users to work on a local file simultaneously. However, Adobe XD’s customizable share links provide more accessibility control for larger projects. In terms of collaboration capabilities, the ability to provide stakeholders with the correct amount of access is better than giving everyone access to a file’s full functionality.
Design and Layout Tools
The success of design software depends largely on its versatility and ease of use.
Figma and Adobe XD have a wide range of design tools suitable for various UX design tasks. Figma has an easier learning curve, as it provides intuitive vector drawing options while remaining robustly customizable, as well as tools to streamline complex tasks, like Smart Animate. Adobe XD has more traditional tools, which require extra steps to achieve the same functionality.
Winner: Figma’s flexible vector design tools make it the clear winner in this category, allowing UX designers to create complex shapes without needing Boolean operations.
In this regard, both design programs are successful and have very little that gives one the edge over the other. In both cases, sharing documents is as easy of pressing a button and inputting a form of identification. In the case of Adobe XD, you need your target’s Adobe ID, and in Figma, you need their email. However, sharing documents in Adobe XD is much simpler than in Figma. Sharing a document in Adobe XD can be done for different purposes (such as design review, presentational purposes, or user testing) that each provide and assign permissions to the people being shared to with the click of a button.
Although Figma can replicate these same functions, it does not have the same intuitive design and clear intent as Adobe XD’s.
Winner: Adobe XD’s document sharing versatility and subsequent ease of use give it a very slight edge over Figma’s, allowing users to quickly discern and decide how they want their document to be shared.
Responsive Design: Frames vs. Artboards
Figma and Adobe XD provide features that focus on responsive interfaces. Both platforms use containers to represent viewports—Figma refers to these as frames, which encompass viewports and sub-elements, while Adobe XD calls them artboards.
Figma’s auto-layout tool allows designers to control how elements, frames, and components behave as their content changes. A simple example is controlling how a button changes size according to the text within the element. Auto-layout allows Figma users to create complex designs that will adapt to screen size, with control over padding between items, independent padding control, stacking order, and element behavior.
Adobe XD offers a similar feature called Responsive Resize. By default, Adobe XD will apply the tool to the artboard in a design using automated settings. To get more control, designers must use manual options to designate anchor points, fixed heights, and widths of individual elements.
Winner: While Adobe’s Responsive Resize offers basic responsive design features, it doesn’t have the robust options of Figma’s auto-layout feature. Essentially, Figma frames can do everything artboards do and a lot more besides.
A template or design system allows various design teams to retain a single, unified vision across several projects. At the simplest level, design systems contain various font styles, a color palette, and UI elements.
Figma’s design system is relatively simple. Every Figma file has a local design system, but you can apply global styles to different components. One of Figma’s collaborative features is Team Libraries, which allow Figma Team members to create and house all their global styles in one file. The entire team can then apply these styles to their design files as needed.
Adobe XD has similar features that allow users to create color palettes, font styles, and component designs and save them as design files. However, it also provides access to the Creative Cloud library, dramatically expanding the number of templates available to UX designers. The Creative Cloud ecosystem extends across all Adobe products, meaning users can exchange Creative Cloud libraries to always have the latest design elements across multiple team libraries.
Figma and Adobe XD have similar pricing models that offer a free version and a paid subscription.
Figma’s free starter version is an unlimited option that allows the following:
- Three Figma and three FIGJAM files
- Unlimited personal files
- Unlimited collaborators
- Access to templates, plugins, and widgets
- A web app for desktop browsers and a mobile app for mobile devices
Figma Professional costs $12/month per editor and offers useful features for larger projects, including:
- Unlimited Figma files
- Unlimited version history
- Sharing permissions
- Shared and private projects
- Team libraries
- Audio conversations
Adobe used to offer a starter version of XD but now has a seven-day free trial and a $9.99/month subscription plan. This plan gives access to the standalone XD design tool, 100GB of cloud storage, a 30-day document history, and unlimited Creative Cloud libraries.
When comparing Figma to Adobe XD, it’s vital to consider your use case. If you have extensive, large-scale design projects, Adobe XD has better subscription pricing. However, if you need a small-scale design tool, then Figma’s free starter version may be sufficient for your needs.
Figma and Adobe XD Creative Cloud
Figma is a standalone product, while Adobe XD benefits from integration into the Creative Cloud. If you already have a subscription to other Adobe products, this integration makes XD a great design tool for cross-platform cooperation.
Figma vs. Adobe XD UI Differences
An intuitive interface is essential to getting the most out of a design tool. Designers familiar with Adobe’s products should feel at home with Adobe XD. Figma has a similar user interface, meaning that learning both interfaces should be relatively straightforward for most UX designers.
Both tools have toolbars at the top and left-hand side and a detail panel on the right of the screen. This detail panel changes depending on the context of your actions.
Figma prioritizes the top toolbar for most functions and the left sidebar for layer and component organization. XD takes a different approach by having all the design tools in the left sidebar.
Both designs allow for streamlined workflows, but designers who use many layers prefer Figma’s divided approach to Adobe XD’s “everything in one toolbar” option.
Any design tool has a steep learning curve, especially for new or inexperienced designers. Adobe products are especially notorious for being overwhelming, with hidden menus and options.
Figma has a more streamlined interface that divides certain tasks into particular toolbars on the side of the screen. By doing so, users can better find a particular tool without referring to video tutorials or browsing through multiple sub-menus.
Both tools have plenty of video tutorials addressing every facet of the platform. These tools can make the learning curve smoother and prevent many hiccups associated with learning a complex new program.
The Best Design Tools for You
There is no clear one-size-fits-all answer to the Figma vs. Adobe XD debate. Both are excellent tools suitable for many design purposes, including prototyping website designs, building mobile apps and interfaces, and creating user-friendly interfaces for programs, apps, and websites. However, the subtle differences between the two can make one option a better choice for certain applications, and companies must consider their needs before committing to one or the other.
Adobe XD is the right choice for you if:
- You work in the Adobe CC design space
- You need access to certain plugins
- You need consistency across multiple UX/UI projects
Figma is the right choice for you if:
- You prefer the versatility of a browser-based tool
- You need robust, responsive design tools for mobile devices
- You want a more user-friendly experience
Which Option Has Better Customer Support?
Customer support is essential for any serious design program. Adobe has an established history of excellent customer support for its products, and XD is no different. In addition to an extensive knowledge base, Adobe Customer Care provides extensive assisted support via its contact center and community forum.
Figma’s customer support is a little less extensive. It has a community forum with helpful users, a knowledge base with tutorials, and a chatbot for bug reports and questions about the program. Customers must complete a form to contact in-person help, with no option for phone or email support.
Still trying to decide which you should use for your project? Connective Web Design is ready with expert advice to help you decide on these and other helpful tools. Call us at (818) 570-5620 to learn more.