Figma Announces Major Redesign with AI at Config 2024: A Deep Dive

The design world was abuzz as Figma, the premier collaborative design tool, announced a host of new features at its Config conference, including a substantial UI redesign, the introduction of generative AI tools, and a new built-in slideshow functionality. This suite of updates promises to enhance the user experience and streamline design workflows, reinforcing Figma's commitment to innovation and user-centric design.

A New Era of Design: Figma's UI Redesign

Figma's latest UI redesign is a significant milestone, marking the third major overhaul since its closed beta launch. This redesign aims to set the stage for the next decade of design innovation, providing a fresh, modern look that balances usability for both newcomers and seasoned Figma veterans.

Key Elements of the Redesign

The redesign introduces several notable changes:

  1. New Toolbar and Icons: Figma has revamped its toolbar, making it more intuitive and accessible. The new design features over 200 new icons, each meticulously crafted to improve clarity and usability. This update not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also streamlines navigation, allowing users to find and use tools more efficiently.

  2. Rounded Corners: The introduction of rounded corners gives the interface a softer, more approachable feel. This subtle change contributes to a more modern and visually pleasing aesthetic, aligning with current design trends.

  3. Focused Canvas: A significant goal of the redesign was to focus the canvas less on the UI and more on the user's work. This change aims to reduce visual clutter, allowing designers to immerse themselves in their projects without unnecessary distractions.

Figma's Chief Product Officer, Yuhki Yamashita, emphasized that this redesign is not just about aesthetics but also about functionality. The new UI is designed to be more approachable for new users while remaining powerful and efficient for experts. This balance ensures that Figma remains a versatile tool for all levels of design proficiency.

Limited Beta Rollout

The new UI is currently available in a limited beta. Users interested in experiencing the redesign can join a waitlist, allowing them to provide feedback and help shape the final product. This phased rollout ensures that any issues can be addressed before the full launch, maintaining Figma's high standards of quality and user satisfaction.

Generative AI: A New Frontier in Design

Beyond the visual overhaul, Figma's headline feature addition is its new generative AI tools. These tools are designed to help users quickly create and iterate on designs, leveraging the power of AI to streamline the creative process.

How Generative AI Works in Figma

The generative AI tools function similarly to AI-driven text generators seen in other applications. Users can input a text prompt, and Figma's AI will generate a design based on that input. For example, when Yamashita typed a prompt for an app design for a new restaurant, the AI quickly mocked up an app with menu listings, a tab bar, and buttons for delivery partners like Uber Eats and DoorDash.

This capability allows designers to jumpstart their projects with a basic structure that they can then tweak and refine. The AI-generated designs serve as a starting point, saving time and effort while still allowing for creative freedom and customization.

Practical Applications

Generative AI in Figma has a range of practical applications:

  • Rapid Prototyping: Designers can quickly create prototypes based on simple descriptions, facilitating faster iteration and feedback loops.
  • Idea Exploration: New users can use AI to explore different design ideas without needing extensive design knowledge or skills.
  • Efficiency for Experts: Experienced designers can use AI to handle repetitive tasks or generate initial layouts, allowing them to focus on more complex and creative aspects of their projects.

In addition to generating layouts, Figma's AI can assist with smaller tasks, such as enhancing asset searches and auto-generating text to replace generic Lorem ipsum placeholders. These features collectively aim to "lower the floor and raise the ceiling," making design more accessible to beginners while boosting productivity for seasoned professionals.

Ethical and Transparent AI Training

Figma's approach to AI training is transparent and user-centric. According to CTO Kris Rasmussen, all generative features are powered by third-party AI models that were not trained on private Figma files or customer data. Instead, Figma fine-tuned its models with images of user interfaces from public, free community files.

Figma also provides admins with control over whether their content can be used for AI training. This opt-in approach ensures that users' data privacy is respected and aligns with best practices in AI ethics and transparency.

Figma Slides: A New Dimension to Presentation

Another significant addition to Figma's feature set is Figma Slides, a built-in slideshow functionality that promises to simplify the creation and sharing of presentations directly within Figma.

Features and Benefits of Figma Slides

Figma Slides is designed to integrate seamlessly with the existing Figma workflow, offering several unique advantages:

  • Real-Time Design Tweaks: Users can make real-time changes to designs included in their slides, ensuring that presentations always reflect the latest iterations. While these changes are currently limited to the slides and do not sync back to the original design files, Figma plans to introduce this capability in the future.

  • Integrated App Prototypes: Presenting app prototypes is now more straightforward, as users can demonstrate interactive designs directly from their slides. This eliminates the need for screen recordings or other workarounds, providing a more fluid and professional presentation experience.

  • Interactive Features: Figma Slides includes interactive elements such as polls and alignment scales, allowing audience members to engage more dynamically with the content. These features can enhance presentations, making them more interactive and engaging.

Availability and Future Plans

Figma Slides is available in open beta starting today. During the beta period, the feature is free to use, but it will transition to a paid feature upon official launch. This phased approach allows Figma to gather user feedback and refine the feature, ensuring it meets the high standards expected by the design community.

Developer Mode: Enhancing Collaboration

In addition to the UI redesign and new features, Figma is also enhancing its Developer Mode, adding tools to improve collaboration between designers and developers.

New Developer Mode Features

The updated Developer Mode includes:

  • "Ready for Dev" Task List: This feature helps streamline the handoff process by clearly indicating which design elements are ready for development. It ensures that developers have all the information they need to implement designs accurately and efficiently.

  • Enhanced Inspection Tools: Improved tools for inspecting design elements make it easier for developers to extract necessary information, such as dimensions, colors, and fonts. This reduces the likelihood of errors and ensures a smoother transition from design to development.

These updates reinforce Figma's commitment to facilitating seamless collaboration across teams, ensuring that designs are implemented as intended.

Navigating Post-Acquisition Landscape

This year's Config conference is particularly noteworthy as it follows the dissolution of Adobe's planned $20 billion acquisition of Figma. The deal was abandoned due to regulatory scrutiny, with Adobe paying a $1 billion breakup fee to Figma.

Impact on Figma's Future

While the termination of the acquisition might have introduced uncertainty, it also provides Figma with the opportunity to continue its independent path of innovation. The recent announcements underscore Figma's commitment to pushing the boundaries of design tools and enhancing the user experience.


Figma's announcements at Config 2024 mark a significant step forward for the platform, reinforcing its position as a leading design tool. The comprehensive UI redesign, generative AI tools, and new slideshow functionality collectively enhance the platform's usability, accessibility, and efficiency.

The redesigned UI focuses on minimizing distractions and maximizing the canvas space for creative work, making Figma more approachable for new users and more powerful for experts. The generative AI tools promise to revolutionize how designers approach projects, offering a quick and efficient way to generate and iterate on designs. Meanwhile, Figma Slides introduces a much-needed feature for creating and sharing presentations, integrating seamlessly with the existing design workflow.

As Figma continues to innovate and expand its feature set, it remains a vital tool for designers and teams looking to collaborate efficiently and creatively. The transparency and ethical considerations in its AI training further solidify Figma's reputation as a user-centric and forward-thinking company.

For those eager to explore these new features, joining the beta programs for the redesigned UI, generative AI tools, and Figma Slides offers a unique opportunity to shape the future of design. As Figma looks ahead to the next decade, these updates are a testament to its commitment to evolving with the needs of the design community and maintaining its position at the forefront of design innovation.

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