What are Figma components?

[Video from the Figma Training for Beginners course]

At first glance, components remind us of parts – a bunch of smaller things that make one bigger thing. In software design components are elements that you can reuse and customise in various projects.

This made software design quicker and easier than ever. It’s no surprise the component principle spread out to other types of digital design. UI designers caught onto the trend. And in little while components became one of the most important parts of UI design.

Software designers use components to streamline the process. Components also allow the designers to update and customise the software as needed.

In UI design, it’s more or less the same principle. Components are individual, independent elements of a UI design. This means a designer can customise and develop each one without having to work on the entire project. Designers can reuse them and so speed up the entire design process.

Think of it this way: components are like building blocks. You can make a ton of different models with the same kind of building block. 

Component based design is often present in large, complex designs. It’s obvious why. You can break them into smaller pieces and manage them much more easily. Components are a big project must. 

But, you can also use them in designs of a smaller scale. Components allow designers to produce interfaces quickly. Designers can also update the interface if the need arises. For example an item is going on sale or is out of stock. The UI designer just tweaks the component elements a little bit and the matter is solved.

Figma’s basic organizational structure is composed of six groups:

Identity 

This group defines the project’s brand. They are elements that are at the core of a project. Identity components detail the primary and secondary colours, typefaces and typography of the project.

Components

A few elements grouped together make a component. Components are what you mostly see when making a web design or an app. Some examples of components are cards, buttons, heros, and navigation menus. Designers make them in versions that fit the all the project’s responsive sizes. This makes them fit different screens and operating systems.

Compositions

Compositions consist of several components. Compositions define the way components behave and interact. 

Layout

Layout defines the amount of blank space, grids and wrappers.

Pages

This is the final group. It consists of components, compositions, and a defined layout. They are the actual pages/screens of the finished project. It’s at this level the designers add any unusual specifications. For example, the background colours.

So, components streamline the design process. They help designers make screens faster. They also allow easier updating. This is because the designers just have to switch up a couple of things, rather than make a whole new project.

The definitions are out of the way now. Figma is one of the design tools that have a great component library. It’s one of the things that make it so popular among UX/UI designers. Let’s take a look at the components Figma has in its library.

Figma components defined

Figma is one of the most popular UX/UI design tools out there. We’ve covered Figma design as a whole, and you can find that article here. It’s a cloud-based UX/UI design tool. It was launched in 2013, and it gained popularity quickly. It’s one of the first design tools that embraced the collaborative principle.

This means several people can work on a project at the same time. It was a total game-changer in the design industry. Collaboration sped up the design production and improved communication between contributors.

It also offers a free plan, which is great for trying out. That way you can test its features and see if they suit your design needs.

Figma offers a lot of great components. They help designers of all skills and tastes. Both novices and experts can use Figma components in their projects. They suit the needs of all. They also suit the needs of many different types of projects. In the next section, we will see what makes Figma components stand out.

The main rules of Figma components

Figma is among the most versatile design tools. Since it’s cloud-based, it’s available on many kinds of software. Figma’s all about efficiency and optimising the use of your time.

But, it’s not enough just to have a random collection of components. Let’s get back to the building block analogy.

We’ve all had that one little Lego piece. The one that goes with a set we can’t remember. We’ve long lost many other parts of it. It kind of sits in the box. We never use it. It’s quite a particular piece, doesn’t really work well with other pieces. So, it’s anything but useful.

Components have to be versatile. They have to have a range of uses. Otherwise, they will only work in a limited number of projects.

This flexibility is one of the key focuses on Figma’s components. You can use them throughout the design process. Many of them will fit a lot of different projects.

Novices to UI design might be a little daunted on the first contact. It’s understandable. But, Figma components are easy to use, even for a newcomer. That’s another key focus of it. A good thing it is, too. 

This means it’s easy to get started with Figma. But it doesn’t mean the components are too simplistic. 

Figma components are powerful enough for experienced designers, as well. This balance is the most important aspect of Figma components. And that’s not easy to achieve.

Main components and instances

In Figma design the main component is the one you duplicate and use again. These duplicates are called instances. They are identical to the main component. This is crucial in keeping the project consistent. 

But, that’s not all. Instances mimic the main component. So you can adjust the main component all you want. The instances will adjust themselves in accord with it. You can see how helpful this is.

Streamlining is the basic idea of component design. Components are there to make designing project with lots of repetition easier.

You might ask, “what if I want to change an instance?” Well, no worries there. Instances are reflections of the main component. As such, they allow overrides to some of the properties. But, there are some limitations. For example, you can’t change the position or the size of objects inside.

Say you’ve changed up an instance. But, you realise you liked it better the way it was. You can restore the original version with the “Reset Instance” button. It doesn’t have to be the whole thing, though. You can pick out the things you’d like to restore.

If you accidentally delete the main component, it’s easy to restore that, too. You just have to find its instance and click the “Restore Master Component” button in the instance section of the properties panel.

So, it’s as user-friendly as it gets. You can play and experiment all you want.

This gives designer a lot of possibilities with their design. You can customise and change the design all you want. And best of all, the design is smart enough to keep up. That’s what composition design is all about in the end.

Complex components

Figma also offers complex components. What are those? They are what could be called “nested” components. You can create them by adding an instance into a component. You can also make one of the existing instances into a component.

This means you can make various parts of the design using this cluster of features. Complex components further streamline and speed up the design process. That’s amazing if you have a project that requires a lot of detailed elements. You don’t have to make each one from scratch. 

With this feature, designers can avoid the boring, menial part of design. Designing should be fun. Complex components in Figma design allow the designers to focus on that fun part. Isn’t that amazing?  

Constraints

The word “constraints” isn’t something that sounds positive at first glance. But don’t worry: this is one of the rare occasions it does. 

Constraints are a neat feature of Figma design.

But what does it do?

It specifies what an object should do when the frame changes size. This means you can define if the object should move to the left or right or resize to fit the current screen. 

This is very important if you’re designing pages for different types of screens. Many apps nowadays need to be usable on laptop, tablet and mobile screens. So, constraints takes care of this issue in a simple way.

It’s one of the newest features. But, it’s what bridges the gap between engineering and design a little bit.

Figma is essential in combining the efficiency of software engineering and the creativity of digital design.

Additional features of Figma components

There are many cool features about Figma components. We will take a look at some of them now.

Designing for screens had limitations when it first became widespread. Technical knowledge suitable for analogue project wasn’t cutting it anymore. So, designers had to come up with a whole other way of designing layouts.

In Figma design, grids are what allow the designer control over how constraints work. They also help align other elements of the design. 

Another great feature is nesting frames. Nesting frames are multiple frames within the same page of the project. They also allow different parts of the design to have different layouts. This comes in handy in designing web pages or apps.

There are many other great features in Figma. You can best explore them on your own terms. Figma is an excellent tool whether you’re just getting into digital design or you’re looking for a tool with powerful features.

The best thing about it is that you can try it out for free. You can access all of Figma’s design features with the free plan. The only thing that’s limited is the number of contributors and projects. 

Figma design is user friendly and versatile. Its features make it one of the most competitive design tools on the market.

Conclusion

Components were first a part of software engineering. They are independent parts of the design. Engineers can customise and update them on an individual level. They helped streamline the engineering process. 

It brought software engineering to another level. Components translated into UI design. Designers saw a great idea and used it in their work. So, components are also parts of digital design. Designers  now make their most of their projects using the components. 

This means you can change up and update the components as you go. You wouldn’t have to work on the entire project. 

Components considerably speed up the design process. You can use similar or same components for many different projects.

Components also removed the tedious parts of the work. You only need to make a recurring element of your design once. Then, you’re free to make any number of identical iterations. 

Designers use them on large scale projects. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t use components in smaller projects. It’s a question of efficiency. Components speed up any kind of design project.

Components need to suit a lot of different design needs. So, it’s best if components are adaptable. 

The components in Figma design are as versatile as they come. They are user-friendly and powerful, as well. Figma developed components suitable for any user profile. You can create and update your designs in a fraction of the time.

Figma offers a free plan. This allows you to explore and see if the available features and components suit your design needs. It’s the ideal trial run. You can test out all the available features.  

It’s all about being creative and having fun doing something you love. So, feel free to try it out for yourself.

Post last updated: August 10, 2020