- Adam Ginsburg
Become a creator, make better products (and perhaps get a pay rise)
Technology is always changing and evolving. This can be a challenge, but for designers it is also a unique opportunity to differentiate your skills and become more valuable to your customers or organisation. So let’s take it up a notch and evolve from “UX Designer” to a "UX Creator".
UX Design is changing
A UX Designer is at the critical intersection point between business strategy, end user goals and needs, and the incarnation of those into an actual working product, site or app.
In the old days, a UX designer would act as a go-between for business leadership, sales and marketing, developers, customer support and more, gathering requirements, conducting user research and coalescing the results into a set of specifications, wireframes and increasingly refined interface designs. These had to then be handed off to developers for implementation into a working product, and usually involved a high degree of back-and-forth collaboration.
Nowadays, products like Figma have streamlined the collaboration process during the research and design stages, allowing all stakeholders access to a single source of truth for a particular product or feature. However, the developer handoff and subsequent implementation pain point remains. The sooner you can get a real, working product into the hands of your users, the sooner you can start getting really valuable feedback, but moving from design to working product takes time, effort and expense. When using iterative design methodologies (such as Design Thinking), this is multiplied by every iteration, meaning time and money can limit the development of an optimal solution.
What if you could bypass or shortcut the developer handoff on at least some (or all!) of the iterations?
What is a UX Creator, and why become one?
A UX Creator is a next-generation designer who can turn their vision into the actual working ‘thing’. This may be a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or the actual product, and it can feed straight into the feedback/iteration loop.
If you, as the designer, can create a working application with little or no technical input, you reduce the effort, time and cost of each iteration. The benefits are exponential - not only can the product be built faster and more cost-effectively, but you’re building a better product, since even the earliest iterations can be based on real feedback from real users experiencing a real, working product. You gain an understanding of your users, as well as how the product works (or doesn't!) in the real world.
Getting a real application in the hands of your users, and iterating changes at lightning speed simply by changing your Figma designs republishing directly to your users? Sounds like magic, but it’s becoming a reality. And the exponential benefit to your organisation means you’ve increased your value to the organisation too. Perhaps a pay rise is in order?
So how do you become a UX Creator?
Luckily, as technology and no code software improves, the technical barrier to creating an actual working application, site or product directly from your designs has been reduced significantly. So give it a go - it’s a little investment for a massive return, and best of all you can keep working in Figma.
There are a number of ‘Figma to No Code’ plugins available. Which one is right for you will depend on a number of factors, and what features you need. These may include:
Are you creating a browser-based web-app only, or will your product need to run natively on devices and be deployed to the app stores?
Does your product need to connect to other devices (for instance via Bluetooth/BLE)?
Does your product need to work while offline or with poor connectivity?
Does it require maps, tracking or other geolocation services?
It pays to check whether the plugin is part of a true ‘full stack’ solution - does it include the frontend, the middleware (things like data binding, validation and business logic) and the backend database? Without these, you’ll have to look at this stuff yourself, and have a steeper learning curve.
Critically, if you’re intending to iterate both design and functionality, make sure the plugin or platform you choose will let you do that directly from your Figma designs. Some are intended for an initial migration out of Figma only - after that, you’ll have to work on their platform.
Can I keep working in Figma?
Ideally, whichever ‘Figma to No Code’ plugin you choose (hint: we recommend Buzzy), you get to keep working in Figma, with minimal interruption and a short learning curve.
There are some Figma best practices it’s worth adopting (if you haven’t already) - things like file organisation, layer structure and nesting, and the correct use of Figma’s positioning and layout constraints (including autolayout). The Figma design screens become a blueprint for the no code tool to publish your product from, so these details matter (just as they matter to the developers you traditionally hand your designs off to).
As an added benefit, this is all Figma best practice that increases your own skills and marketability, and will endear you to the developers you work with.
Will I need to code?
Some plugins will require you to code (or find someone who can). Others are largely no code, but your specific product may require some additional business logic or back end programming. In this case you should be able to focus on the design and basic production and only bring in developers for the tricky or special bits. You’ll still get a head start on production, and reduce both time and costs.
The good news is that a lot of you already have some coding experience - a recent survey via the Figma Product Community on LinkedIn found that just over half of respondents have at least a ‘basic’ level of coding skills.
“Now, we are moving into the decade of design: One where design, not just code, is at the center of product development and successful organizations.” Peter Levine, Andreessen Horowitz
Don’t you think it’s time to become a UX Creator?
Buzzy is a no code platform that lets you design, test and deploy working apps with real data, user-generated content and live forms without leaving Figma. It’s built by designers and developers that know things should be easier - we’re busy becoming UX Creators ourselves as we work on Buzzy.