How to Prototype in Figma: A Step-by-Step Guide

Written by Figma Expert
Last modified Jun. 23 2023

How to Prototype in Figma is a question that has many steps involved. Figma is a popular design tool that allows designers to create and collaborate on designs in real-time. One of the key features of Figma is its prototyping capabilities, which allow designers to create interactive mockups of their designs. Prototyping is an essential step in the design process, as it allows designers to test the functionality of their designs and gather feedback before moving on to development.

In Figma, designers can easily create prototypes by adding interactive elements to their designs, such as buttons, links, and animations. These elements can be linked to create a flow between screens, allowing designers to simulate how users interact with their designs. Figma also allows designers to preview their prototypes in real-time, so they can see how their designs will look and feel on different devices.

Overall, prototyping in Figma is a powerful tool that can help designers create better designs and gather feedback from stakeholders and users. Using Figma's prototyping capabilities, designers can create interactive mockups of their designs, test their functionality, and gather feedback before developing. Whether you're a seasoned designer or just getting started, Figma's prototyping features are a valuable tool for any design project.

How to Prototype in Figma

When it comes to prototyping in Figma, the first step is to set up the design file properly. This section will guide you through the process of creating a new design file, understanding the left sidebar, and navigating prototype mode.

Creating a New Design File

To create a new design file, click on "New File" in the Figma dashboard. You can choose from a variety of templates or start with a blank canvas. Once you have created the file, you can begin designing your prototype.

Understanding the Left Sidebar

The left sidebar in Figma is where you will find all the tools you need to design your prototype. You will find buttons, navigation, content, and more. The left sidebar is divided into several sections, including "Frames," "Components," "Assets," and "Plugins."

Frames are the building blocks of your prototype. You can create frames for each screen or page of your prototype and then connect them using buttons or other navigation elements.

Components are reusable elements that you can use throughout your prototype. For example, you can create a component for a button and then use that button throughout your prototype.

Assets are images, icons, and other design elements that you can use in your prototype.

Plugins are third-party tools that you can use to enhance your prototype. For example, you can use a plugin to add animations or other effects to your prototype.

Navigating Prototype Mode

Once you have designed your prototype, you can switch to Prototype mode to create interactions and animations. To switch to prototype mode, click on the "Prototype" tab at the top of the screen.

In prototype mode, you can create connections between frames using buttons or other navigation elements. You can also add animations and other effects to make your prototype more interactive.

Overall, setting up Figma for prototyping is a straightforward process. By creating a new design file, understanding the left sidebar, and navigating prototype mode, you can create a professional-looking, functional, and visually appealing prototype.

Creating Frames and Components

When it comes to prototyping in Figma, creating frames and components is a crucial step. Frames serve as containers for your design elements, while components are reusable design elements that can be used across multiple frames.

Creating Frames

To create a frame in Figma, select the Frame tool from the toolbar on the left-hand side of the screen. Then, click and drag your mouse across the canvas to create a frame of the desired size. You can also adjust your frame size by clicking and dragging on the edges or corners of the frame.

Creating Components

Creating components in Figma is a powerful way to maintain consistency across your designs. To create a component, select the element you want to turn into a component and click the "Create Component" button in the toolbar. You can then name your component and save it for later use.

Grouping Elements

Grouping elements in Figma is a great way to keep your designs organized. Select the elements you want to group and click the "Group" button in the toolbar to group elements together. You can also ungroup elements by selecting the group and clicking the "Ungroup" button.

Setting Layout and Fill Color

In Figma, you can easily set the layout and fill color of your frames and components. To set the layout, select the frame or component and adjust the layout properties in the right-hand menu. To set the fill color, select the frame or component and choose the desired fill color from the fill color menu in the toolbar.

Overall, creating frames and components in Figma is a straightforward process that can greatly improve the efficiency and consistency of your designs. Following the steps outlined above, designers can create well-organized and consistent prototypes that accurately represent their vision.

Designing Interactive Flows

Designing interactive flows is essential to creating a successful prototype in Figma. Interactive flows allow designers to explore how a user will interact with their designs, test interactions with users, and present their designs to stakeholders.

Creating User Flows

Creating user flows is the first step toward designing interactive flows. User flows are the paths that a user takes through a website or application to complete a specific task. To create user flows in Figma, designers can use frames to represent each screen or page in the flow.

Making Connections

Once the user flows are established, designers can create connections between the frames to create a flow. Connections are created using hotspots, which are areas on a frame that triggers a specific action, such as a click or hover. Designers can create and edit connections using the Prototype tab on the right sidebar.

Adding Interactions

After creating connections, designers can add interactions to their prototypes. Interactions are the actions that occur when a user triggers a hotspot. For example, clicking a button may open a new frame or display a dropdown menu. Designers can use the Interaction details modal to customize the behavior of each hotspot.

Designing Multiple Flows

Designing multiple flows allows designers to explore different user paths through their designs. By creating multiple flows, designers can test different interactions and user experiences. Designers can use the Prototype tab to switch between flows and view how each flow interacts with the design.

Overall, designing interactive flows in Figma is a crucial step toward creating a successful prototype. By creating user flows, making connections, adding interactions, and designing multiple flows, designers can create an engaging and intuitive user experience.

Adding Animations and Transitions

Figma makes adding animations and transitions to your prototypes easy, making them more interactive and engaging. Here are some tips and best practices for adding animations and transitions to your Figma prototypes.

Using Smart Animate

Smart Animate is one of the most powerful features in Figma for creating animations. This feature allows you to create smooth animations between two frames by automatically animating the changes between the two frames.

To use Smart Animate, you need to have two frames with similar elements. Then, select the first frame and create a hotspot that links to the second frame. In the prototype settings, select Smart Animate as the transition type. When you preview the prototype, Figma will automatically animate the changes between the two frames.

Setting Duration and Easing

When creating animations, it's important to consider the duration and easing of the animation. The duration determines how long the animation takes to complete, while the easing determines how the animation accelerates or decelerates.

To set the duration and easing of animation in Figma, select the hotspot that triggers the animation and open the prototype settings. Under the transition options, you can adjust the duration of the animation and choose from a variety of easing curves to customize the acceleration and deceleration of the animation.

Creating Move In and Move Out Animations

One common animation pattern in interfaces is the move-in and move-out animation. This animation shows or hides elements on the screen by moving them in or out of view.

To create a move-in or move-out animation in Figma, you can use the Smart Animate feature. First, create two frames with the same elements but with one frame having the details hidden or off-screen. Then, create a hotspot that links to the frame with the hidden elements. In the prototype settings, select Smart Animate as the transition type and adjust the duration and easing as desired.

In conclusion, Figma provides powerful tools for creating animations and transitions in your prototypes. By using Smart Animate, setting duration and easing, and creating move-in and move-out animations, you can create engaging and interactive prototypes that simulate real-world interactions and user flows.

Building Interactive Prototypes

Building an interactive prototype in Figma can help designers to create a more realistic and engaging experience for their users. This section will explore how to build interactive prototypes in Figma, including setting the starting point, creating hotspots and overlays, and adding instant interactions.

Setting the Starting Point

Setting the starting point is the first step in creating an interactive prototype in Figma. The starting point is the frame or artboard the user will see when they open the prototype. To set the starting point, select the frame or artboard that you want to use as the starting point, and then click on the "Prototype" tab in the right-hand panel. From there, you can select "Starting Frame" and choose the frame or artboard that you want to use as the starting point.

Creating Hotspots and Overlays

Hotspots and overlays are key components of an interactive prototype in Figma. Hotspots are areas on the design that the user can click or tap on to trigger an action, such as navigating to a different frame or opening a menu. Overlays are panels or windows that appear on top of the current frame, providing additional information or options to the user.

To create a hotspot, select the element that you want to use as the hotspot, and then click on the "Prototype" tab in the right-hand panel. From there, you can select "New Interaction" and choose the destination frame to which the hotspot links. You can also customize the transition type and duration for the hotspot.

To create an overlay, select the element that you want to use as the overlay, and then click on the "Prototype" tab in the right-hand panel. From there, you can select "New Overlay" and choose the overlay frame you want. You can also customize the overlay transition type and duration.

Adding Instant Interactions

Instant interactions are a powerful way to create a more engaging and responsive interactive prototype in Figma. Instant interactions allow you to add animations and transitions to your design, making it feel more realistic and dynamic.

To add an instant interaction, select the element to which you want to add the interaction, and then click on the "Prototype" tab in the right-hand panel. From there, you can select "New Interaction" and choose the interaction type that you want to use, such as "On Click" or "While Hovering". You can also customize the animation or transition type and duration for the interaction.

In conclusion, building an interactive prototype in Figma can help designers to create a more engaging and realistic experience for their users. By setting the starting point, creating hotspots and overlays, and adding instant interactions, designers can create an interactive prototype that feels like a real product.

Preview and Feedback

Prototyping in Figma allows designers to create interactive mockups of their products, test functionality, and gather feedback before moving on to development. Previewing the prototype and gathering feedback are crucial steps in the design process. This section'll explore how to preview and gather feedback on your Figma prototype.

Previewing the Prototype

Previewing the prototype is an essential step in the prototyping process. It allows designers to test the functionality of the prototype and ensure that it works as intended. To preview the prototype, designers can use the Observation mode in Figma. This mode allows them to interact with the prototype as a user would. They can click on buttons, links, and other interactive elements to test the functionality of the prototype.

Gathering Feedback

Gathering feedback is an important step in the design process. It allows designers to get input from stakeholders and users and make changes to the design based on that feedback. Figma allows designers to gather feedback on their prototypes by adding comments to the design. Stakeholders and users can leave comments on specific elements of the design and provide feedback on the functionality and usability of the prototype.

Using Presentation View

Presentation view is a useful feature in Figma that allows designers to present their designs and prototypes to stakeholders and users. It provides a full-screen view of the design and allows stakeholders and users to interact with the prototype. To use the Presentation view, designers must ensure that their design is within a frame. They can then access the Presentation view by clicking on the Present button in the toolbar or using the keyboard shortcut.

In conclusion, previewing the prototype, gathering feedback, and using a Presentation view are essential steps in prototyping. By using these features in Figma, designers can ensure that their prototypes are functional, usable, and meet the needs of their stakeholders and users.

Sharing and Testing the Prototype

Creating a prototype in Figma is only half the battle. Once the prototype is ready, it needs to be shared and tested with others. Figma offers several options for sharing and testing prototypes, including sharing links, testing on different devices, and conducting user tests.

Sharing the Prototype

Sharing a Figma prototype is easy. To share the prototype, the user needs to click on the "Share Prototype" button in the menu bar. This will open the Sharing modal for the Prototype. The user can adjust the Link Sharing Discovery settings to "Anyone with the link". The user can then copy the prototype's URL to their clipboard and share it with others. Alternatively, the user can invite others to view the prototype by entering their email address.

Testing on Different Devices

Figma has a number of popular devices presets that can be used to control how the prototype looks in the Presentation view. The dimensions of the prototype frames will define what options are available. If the user uses a frame preset, Figma will select a device that matches that preset. The user can also use Device settings to control how the prototype looks in the Presentation view.

Conducting User Tests

User testing is an important part of the prototyping process. Figma offers several user test options, including third-party tools like Maze. To conduct a user test, the user needs to share the prototype with the test participants and ask them to perform specific tasks. The user can then observe and record the test participant's behavior and feedback.

Developers can also benefit from Figma prototypes. Figma offers several options for developers, including inspecting design files, generating code snippets, and exporting assets. Developers can use these features to streamline the development process and ensure that the final product matches the design.

Additional Tips and Tricks

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Figma has a number of keyboard shortcuts that can help speed up your prototyping workflow. For example, you can quickly toggle between the Design and Prototype tabs using the keyboard shortcut Shift E. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Shift + A to create a new frame and the keyboard shortcut Shift + D to duplicate a frame.

Adding Text and Background Color

When designing your prototype, you can easily add text and background color to your frames. To add text, select the Text tool from the toolbar and click anywhere on the canvas to start typing. To add a background color, select the frame you want to add the color to, and then choose the Fill option from the right-hand panel. From there, you can choose a solid color or a gradient.

Scaling and Custom Sizing

Figma makes it easy to scale and customize the size of your frames. To scale a frame, select it and then drag the handles in or out to resize it. You can also use the Scale tool from the toolbar to adjust your frame size more precisely. To customize the size of your frame, select the frame and then choose the Constraints option from the right-hand panel. From there, you can set the frame to be fixed in size or to resize dynamically based on its content.

Designing for Different Orientations

When designing your prototype, it's important to consider how it will look on different devices and in different orientations. Figma makes it easy to design for different orientations by allowing you to create frames for different device sizes and orientations. To create a new frame for a different orientation, select the frame you want to duplicate and then choose the Duplicate Frame option from the right-hand panel. From there, you can choose the orientation and device size for the new frame.

These tips and tricks can help you create more effective and efficient prototypes in Figma. By using keyboard shortcuts, adding text and background color, scaling and customizing the size of your frames, and designing for different orientations, you can create more engaging and user-friendly prototypes.

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