Bussolini / Design

Why Sketch is Superior to Figma (Updated)

A look inside both Vector based tools and why to use one over the other.

The Right Tool for the Right Job.

I've recently had to argue for Sketch more than ever before, as companies have migrated to Figma. Since both are vector-based, the distinction resides in the underlying format in which they are built. A popular misconception is that Figma offers a desktop application specifically for Macs. In reality, they offer a web-based container that is less usable than Sketch for performing design activities on a MacBook or other Apple desktop computers. When asked why they chose Figma, most companies stated that the decision was based solely on licensing. Sketch is solely available on Mac, whereas Figma is accessible from any OS. Access to design is one aspect; however, with no dedicated PC’s that solve the creative needs of designers, it begs the question of why use a web container for their application if the industry standard is a MacBook Pro.

Sketch is native to Mac OS, and Figma is a web container. There are clear differences that enable Sketch to have a higher quality of design. 

Since Sketch is native to Mac, it enables high fidelity over the designs created. I recently built CosmicMotive.com using Sketch because the degree of fidelity when doing native applications is of the utmost importance. Figma can get close, but the level of design achievable using Sketch is far greater than Figma, which is why I prefer this tool as a standard for my design. I primarily design Native American experiences, and when I am not doing that, I prefer having higher fidelity in my work.

Figma is a great tool that follows the same general principle of using vector shapes as a guide; however, the ability for it to render as clean as Sketch is not possible. If you are doing responsive web applications that don’t require a high degree of final visual polish, this is a great choice. However, when providing final designs for Native American experiences, Sketch is the only solution that will provide the degree of quality that is required. It’s hard to compare the two; however, I find that most people who do so are not educated on this piece, and it is important to use the right tool for the right job. Licensing and containing the experience on Mac only has its limitations, but for designers looking for a high degree of flexibility, there is little comparison with how each can render and the potential output.

Where Figma Became Superior 

Aside from substantial memory utilization and a web container that presents latency issues on larger files, Figma has excelled in improving features that more closely match development, as well as delivering greater collaboration overall. They have advanced at a faster speed than Sketch; nonetheless, the fundamental difficulties of using a web container remain a source of contention for me in terms of memory utilization and latency, as well as the fidelity being slightly off in some cases for native OS. Aside from these difficulties, it appears that they have a distinct advantage in terms of expertise and collaboration, which is why Figma is becoming increasingly popular as the go-to for product design.

2024 Update

Most companies have adopted Figma as the standard for design; however, my points around native versus a web container still remain true. The memory usage for Figma compared to Sketch is significant, and the fidelity of design output can vary. I commend Figma for adapting to and solving user needs and the needs of developers more closely, such as with features like auto-layout and component variants and variables. While there are certain aspects of Figma that make it a standard for design teams, my hope is that they might one day include a dedicated application for Mac OS that reduces the latency and memory usage of large files, along with a closer match in the fidelity of output for Apple devices.