Sharing work with a client is an art. A creative team can craft a pitch or presentation for days, building a deck, running through the lines, preparing the big reveal. The way we present our designs can mean the difference between a win and a loss, a success or a failure.
Sharing our work presents an added challenge when we aren’t doing it in person. Unless we carefully prepare and communicate our designs, the work is left open to assumption and misinterpretation. And despite our efforts, designers still receive marked-up PDFs from clients or scanned-in feedback written on printed designs.
This was true for my team until a few months ago, when we started using Figma.
Given the established design tools we had used for years and the various alternatives we’d already moved past, we were cautiously optimistic when we decided to give Figma a try. It quickly proved itself. Among many other benefits, Figma has streamlined our presentation process and improved my team’s relationship with our clients. In the most simple ways, it solves issues designers have been struggling with for too long – client collaboration being an important one.
These are just a few ways Figma has transformed how we share our work and communicate with clients.
"As designers, we sweat over every detail of our design only to drop it at the bottom of an email."
The magic Figma link
Figma is web-based, an idea which may seem suspect to anyone who has been operating with the standard designer software up to this point in their career. Yet it’s this approach that makes Figma invaluable.
Before, we would either export and upload our work to a different tool or send it as an email attachment. Not only did this leave room for confusion, it was also time-consuming and annoying. On top of that, sharing files this way felt unprofessional. As designers, we sweat over every detail of our design only to drop it at the bottom of an email or share it through some clunky, branded prototyping platform. Presenting our work this way just felt anti-climactic.
Now, sharing work with a client is as simple as copy and pasting a link from Figma. When a client views a Figma link, they’re not blindly navigating a shared folder or trying to interpret an attachment. They’re joining our design board itself. They click the link and view the latest work straight from their browser, without logging in or creating an account.
When we’re ready to present the work, our clients can view it in real-time. Our cursors move on the screen as we present. We can walk them through each detail of our designs without an in-person meeting or screen share, rearranging elements or illustrating an example live. They simply jump in the link to follow along.
This allows us to present our design as it's intended to be viewed, avoiding confusion and setting the work up for success. Rather than receiving a stale file, our clients can easily access the living, breathing designs when we're ready to share them.
(Side note: If we do want to export a design or image, it’s insanely easy. Going back to other tools with their multi-step export process and countless, complex options now seems archaic.)
The client can also comment directly on the designs. This eliminates PDF sticky notes, bullet-point feedback without context and unnecessary review calls that waste time. The only downside is that the client needs to create a free login (which takes just a few seconds) to leave a comment. However, this creates a sense of ownership and collaboration that didn’t exist before, due to the siloed nature of other tools.
Building interactive decks & prototypes
Up to this point, Keynote has been the best option for creating client presentations. While the limited design capabilities can be helpful in some cases, it’s certainly not the sensible option for more intricately designed decks. Keynote also comes with the pain of exporting and managing versions. I’ve never seen a team build a deck with just one or two drafts.
Versions are irrelevant with Figma. Everything lives in one place and everyone can work on a deck together in real-time.
The designer, the writer, the new business person – the whole team can work side-by-side without swapping files back and forth or worrying about version control. It all happens in the same place, whether we're using the Figma app or working straight from the browser.
Instead of designing a standard presentation in which someone passively clicks from slide to slide, we can make our decks more interactive with Figma. We now build prototypes straight into our deck, allowing us to better tell a story without jumping back and forth between windows.
We add buttons into decks that make it feel like using an app. We create an experience that excites people about the product or idea we are pitching to them. The old way of presenting decks – clicking external links, minimizing and switching between windows, revealing the back-end of the presentation as we struggled to find our place – is now laughable.
Put simply, Figma helps us better share and sell our work. We are more efficient, more professional, more confident. The most outstanding design won't go far unless it's communicated well. In allowing us to better communicate our designs, Figma has made us better designers.