📣 Config 2023 Recap – It’s a cult and I loved it 😍

8,000 designers in all the shapes and colors that you can imagine where more close than ever to celebrate this first post-pandemic conference.

Hello people, in this issue, we’ll look at…

  • ✨ Figma New Features,
  • 💠 Your Next Component,
  • 🐢 Supaslow vs ⚡️Supafast,
  • 📱 From Mobile-First to Component-First,
  • 🔮 What to expect in the future,
  • 🤖 Skynet, not yet,
  • 🙋🏿‍♀️ Need reasons to attend Config in person,
  • 🍟 and extra things to bite it…

✨ Figma New Features

You don’t build, you buy it. If you think about the deal and the past newsletter issue I talked about Adobe acquiring Figma you may remember how good Adobe is at acquiring companies, and probably Figma is using now the same playbook. And in the artificial intelligence era, they need to keep you adding more data to the Figma platform in order to train their AI model. In short, Figma’s almost “free” policy will keep happening.

I will drop a couple of comments about the new features and link the videos to watch each session. Because to learn about each new feature you can access Figma’s blog – SHORTCUT , watch the Product Launch Keynote, and this helpful article that consolidates everything.

🤖 AI (of course)

In an exciting development, Figma has acqui-hired Diagram’s talented team along with their groundbreaking AI tools. Brace yourself for an abundance of new tools that will revolutionize your design workflow to such an extent that you may no longer need to painstakingly rename your layers correctly once their new betas are released. The integration of AI into the design process is imminent, and the true value lies in shaping the art direction your project should embrace. Consider the story behind your product—why does Headspace, for instance, exude a superior aesthetic as a meditation app compared to its counterparts?

Beyond the time-saving benefits of AI-powered layer renaming and icon creation through Stable Diffusion, what truly fascinated me was Diagram’s team’s dedication to crafting an interface that intuitively suggests ideas to designers at precisely the right moment. This level of contextual assistance promises to dramatically enhance your design speed and efficiency. Get ready for a new era of design automation!

🧑🏽‍💻 Dev Mode is mind-blowing 

Following Figma’s motto:

Brainstorm. Design. Build.

The introduction of the new Dev Mode in Figma brings immense improvements to the handoff process, making collaboration with developers a breeze. With the convenience of VS Code and Jira plugins, you can seamlessly streamline the product-building journey.

While the component selection feature is undeniably valuable, it underscores the need for a robust Design System that provides accurate information within the Dev Mode interface.

🍻 But let’s shift gears to a more relaxed setting—the happy hour at SPIN, a lively ping-pong bar right in front of the Moscone Center. This delightful event was generously sponsored by Zeplin.

In the past, I found myself using ZeplinInVision, or Marvel extensively due to different teams relying on various software for the handoff process. Don’t get me wrong, all of these tools were superb in their time.

During my project at Black & Decker in Miami, the design team used Sketch, Adobe XD, and Figma for the same app. In order to establish a unified source of truth for handoff, we had to resort to Zeplin or Marvel.

However, it’s now 2023, and in the realm where Figma dominates, it seems like a game over for Zeplin and other handoff tools, including the once-enjoyable Zeroheight.

In tech world there is no second place.
Do you remeber the second best video platform?
Or the second best search engine?

In the tech world, there’s no room for second place. Can you recall the second-best video platform or search engine? The same principle applies here—Photoshop has reigned supreme among graphic design tools, and the runner-up is barely remembered. Figma has established itself as the go-to UI design tool, and expecting the entire product team, including designers and developers, to adopt another handoff process seems highly unlikely (😬 sorry, Zeplin).

🪦 Similarly, the rise of FigJam poses a challenge to Miro and other whiteboard tools. Personally, I’m eagerly awaiting a plugin that connects Google Forms to FigJam, as it would render my Miro account obsolete.

🎁 It’s an Auto-Layout Wrap

I was waiting for this feature for such a long time. The Auto-Feature Layout Wrap is a much-awaited addition. Building rows of components for different screen sizes has been a tedious task, and fixing layouts after people detach them has been a hassle. With this feature, designing will become more efficient and seamless.


💁🏻‍♀️ Real Design Tokens in Figma: An Announcement That Touched My Heart

Although Tokens Studio for Figma is popular, I personally advise against using it. I do not recommend entrusting sensitive design information to a third-party plugin. Instead, I suggest waiting for Figma to develop native token design capabilities, which they have done.

Now, it is easier than ever to build themes for both dark and light modes without constantly switching between variants. 🙏

However, this may be confusing to some designers, so it’s important to work closely with your developers to ensure consistent naming conventions for your design system. I was disappointed when Figma 🪦 buried the Tokens Studio plugin, but ultimately, this decision was for the best.

Real Design Tokens in Figma 🥲 I almost cried at this announcement.

🤳 Prototyping with Variables, Conditions, and Expressions

I remember the old days of Sketch when we had to import Sketch files into another prototyping tool to create a better presentation. People used to complain about the lack of “conditionals” to add to the prototype.

However, with the introduction of these new advanced prototyping tools from Figma, we must now re-learn how to prototype like a 👑 professional. I believe this will bring Figma a step closer to becoming a Low-Code or No-Code platform, which is essential. And more importantly, clean up a little bit of our Figma canvas with so many variations of screens.

To delve deeper into all the updates, make sure to watch the Product Launch Keynote. It’s an invaluable resource to learn more about the Font Preview feature and other exciting and practical updates.

💠 Your Next Component

Check out this captivating talk—it’s as straightforward as it gets. Dan Mall is a beast, an absolute force to be reckoned with, and gaining insight into his approach to tackling design systems was truly enlightening. Despite the overwhelming 🌊 wave of AI advancements, having a deep understanding of design systems, knowing how to ask the right questions, and selecting the most fitting tasks can significantly influence your organization’s success. I’m personally drawn to the idea of enrolling in Design System University, led by Dan Mall and other industry experts. It seems like an invaluable opportunity.

To delve deeper into all the updates, make sure to watch the Product Launch Keynote. It’s an invaluable resource to learn more about the Font Preview feature and other exciting and practical updates.

💠 Your Next Component

Check out this captivating talk—it’s as straightforward as it gets. Dan Mall is a beast, an absolute force to be reckoned with, and gaining insight into his approach to tackling design systems was truly enlightening. Despite the overwhelming 🌊 wave of AI advancements, having a deep understanding of design systems, knowing how to ask the right questions, and selecting the most fitting tasks can significantly influence your organization’s success. I’m personally drawn to the idea of enrolling in Design System University, led by Dan Mall and other industry experts. It seems like an invaluable opportunity.

🐢Supaslow vs ⚡️Supafast: Embracing the Right Approach

As I strolled towards the main room, I unexpectedly ran into Zander, your beloved ❤️ “designer influencer” of all time. I couldn’t help but share my honest thoughts about his tutorials, finding them lacking in depth and detached from real-world scenarios.

In response, someone questioned my audacity, pointing out that Zander boasts nearly 500k Instagram followers. It struck me then that he might be inadvertently leading astray not only those 500k individuals but perhaps even you 😅.

However, the time has come to settle the matter once and for all. Despite being much older than Zander, I embrace my role as the #supaslow designer who delves into every detail and imparts the correct methods for building exceptional designs.

In the near future, I’ll be releasing a series of videos that will guide you on the path to designing with precision. And if you’re eager to access these valuable resources at no cost, simply fill out this form.

👨‍🎨 The Need for Designers as CEOs: A Paradigm Shift in Fortune 500 Companies 🎨💼

Currently, among the Fortune 500 companies, there is only one CEO who comes from a design background—Brian Chesky of Airbnb. As Brian himself pointed out, “The only people that don’t become CEO are designers and HR.” It’s a disheartening reality, especially considering that both designers and HR professionals center their work around people. Ironically, roles such as lawyers and financial experts often escape the need to justify their positions, while designers frequently find themselves needing to defend the value of their work. Perhaps it’s time to take Matt Gottschalk’s advice and change this narrative.

In addition to my role as a designer, I am also involved in my own startup called DOJO+. Through this journey, I have come to understand why it can be challenging to raise funds without a technical co-founder or a founder with a financial background. Many venture capital firms still cling to outdated mindsets when it comes to building teams and products.

Interestingly, even in a world with abundant AI and technology advancements, figures like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, who are deeply entrenched in the tech industry, emphasize the importance of being human and continuously learning. In fact, both Mark and Elon, like myself, practice Jiu-Jitsu.

Brian Chesky eloquently described designers as architects, a comparison that has always resonated with me. Design is not just about artistry; it requires precision to create stunning and captivating products.

Make something people want.

–Paul Graham

The keynote delivered by Brian was truly inspiring, echoing the sentiment that Paul Graham of Y Combinator shared with him in the past: “Make something people want.” Designers play a pivotal role in fulfilling that vision, as they hold the key to crafting products that truly resonate with users.

It’s high time we recognize the value of designers in leadership positions and embrace a paradigm shift where more designers assume the role of CEOs within the Fortune 500 companies.

From 📱 Mobile-First to 💠 Component-First: A Paradigm Shift in Design

In the realm of web design, I have always believed that even the smallest components should be reimagined to seamlessly fit within the confines of a screen, much like the Responsive Logos website exemplifies.

I love to describe designers or developers who possess a deep passion for crafting products as true artists. They go beyond simply building a design system; they strive to create an entirely new user experience.

The session featuring Una Kravets and Adam Argyle left me in awe as they presented an approach that centers around components rather than focusing solely on screen resolutions. This shift from Mobile-First to Component-First is a game-changer.

Witnessing the coding process unfold, it becomes evident that these individuals are not merely developers but truly digital artists in their own right. This captivating keynote forces you to reconsider the responsive design concept and reflect on the work you have been engaged in over the past few years.

🔮What to expect in the future?

🛰️The Creative Generalists

The past era was characterized by specialization and the division of labor, where individuals focused on mastering a specific skill or field. This approach led to remarkable advancements in various domains, such as engineering, medicine, and art. However, it also created silos and limited opportunities for cross-pollination of ideas and perspectives.

Fast forward to the present, and we find ourselves on the cusp of a new era driven by the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI). This era is being hailed as the age of the “Creative Generalists,” where the boundaries between different disciplines blur, and individuals are encouraged to embrace a diverse set of skills and knowledge. AI frees up human potential by automating routine tasks and assisting in complex decision-making, allowing individuals to explore multiple areas of interest, experiment with different mediums, and cultivate a broader understanding of the world. The Creative Generalists of today seamlessly blend art, science, technology, and humanities, creating novel combinations that push the boundaries of innovation. With AI as a collaborator and tool, they tap into a wellspring of possibilities, unleashing a wave of diversity and empowerment.

Venture capital investments, traditionally focused on specialized startups, are now flowing towards interdisciplinary ventures that harness the power of creative generalization. The ability to connect dots across domains and create synergistic solutions is increasingly valued by investors. This shift reflects a growing recognition that the future belongs to those who can navigate complexity, adapt to change, and think holistically.

🏍️ The Scramble Design

If you are familiar with the concept of “scramble” in motorcycles, you will understand the inspiration behind the idea. Just as the scramble concept in motorcycles represents a sense of freedom, exploration, and pushing the limits, we can draw parallels with the impact of AI in the design field.

It’s undeniable that the integration of AI into design platforms brings significant advancements. However, there is a concern that it may lead to a homogenization of design. When everyone can easily set the same parameters such as typeface, colors, and iconography, it raises questions about how we can truly push the boundaries of creativity. Where is the fun if design becomes standardized and lacks innovation?

While AI and design platforms provide immense convenience and efficiency, they cannot replace the human touch and imagination. Some companies may find that they require not just UX/UI designers, but artists who can play with design elements and bring forth new ideas and innovations. These artists possess the ability to think beyond predefined templates and explore uncharted territories in design.

Mastering design systems and a deep understanding of Design Principles become crucial for the future to navigate the balance between leveraging AI’s capabilities and infusing their unique creativity into the design process.

This approach will enable companies and designers to embrace the new era of Creative Generalists, where innovation thrives, boundaries are pushed, and remarkable design solutions are born.

🤖 Skynet, not yet.

Ovetta’s inspiring talk at Config shed light on the irreplaceable role of human creativity, highlighting how AI falls short in certain aspects (🤔at least for now).

In her thought-provoking talk, Ovetta brought up a fascinating idea to estimate the capabilities of our brains: 🎮 playing video games. Well, hold on a second, I’m just messing with you! 🤣 She actually recommended something much more creative—🖍️ drawing! But hey, if drawing isn’t your thing, maybe it’s time to jump back on the coloring books trend with those trusty crayons. Who knew assessing our brain power could be so entertaining? Thank you, Ovetta, for your enlightening contribution. Although, let’s be honest, the world probably doesn’t need another coloring book. 😹

While I highly recommend watching the entire talk, I’ve summarized some key points for you below:

🧬 Humans possess innate advantages over machines in terms of creativity and innovation.

🖍️ Drawing stimulates the release of joy-inducing chemicals in our brains, fostering creativity.

🧗🏻‍♂️ Taking risks and having an adventurous spirit are essential for nurturing creativity.

🚧 Breaking the rules can lead to innovation and new creative ideas.

💭 Daydreaming activates specific brain networks that facilitate problem-solving.

😫 Life experiences, including tragedy and pain, can inspire beautiful and innovative creations.

In short generative AI cannot replace human creativity and innovation. And we hope for human brains and computer machines to collaborate, leveraging the best of both worlds to create remarkable things.

🙋🏿‍♀️ Why you should attend Config?

Do you remember that awesome movie Good Will Hunting with Matt Damon and Robin Williams? There’s this scene I absolutely love when Robin Williams says: “I bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel.” ⛪️

And I bet you don’t wanna miss out on the incredible vibe of being surrounded by 8,000 designers all in one place. It’s like a designer’s paradise! Even after the whole pandemic situation, that place is still the tech Mecca where all the innovation is happening.

But here’s the thing, if you’re not there, you won’t get the same experience of connecting with designers from all over. You won’t be able to complain directly to the Zoom team about their interface (seriously, they need to save the window positions, it’s my only request 🙏).

Man, I had a blast during that event. Lunches, happy hours, dinners, exploring the city, checking out cool spots in San Francisco with fellow designers. Oh, and I even had a vegan hamburger at this fake McDonald’s joint.

I also got to meet up with some old friends I’ve known for over a decade. We talked about everything under the sun, from tech stuff to parenting, work, relationships, you name it. One lunch was not enough to cover all that. Oh, and guess what? One of them speaks fluent Portuguese, guess who?

Lifetime friendships

The Slack conversations, the WhatsApp groups, and all the side events that happened throughout the days were so much fun. Oh, and by the way, I hope next time the Brazilian group can actually organize a real-life meetup. We can’t even organize a Slack group, what about our own country? 🇧🇷 Haha, it’s a struggle.

By the way, the only two awesome Brazilians I met were Matt, who’s killing it at Netflix and gave this amazing talk during Config, and Jackie, who’s doing great things at GE. Here’s the crazy part, they have so much in common: both are from Rio de Janeiro, born in Brazil, Ironhack alumni, and living in the same state, city, neighborhood, and other extra coincidences. Can you believe the coincidences?

So yeah, I think we should totally catch up again at Config in 2024. It’s gonna be epic!

🍟 BITes

🍎 It’s awesome to see Apple making an official contribution to the Figma community with their new Apple iOS 17 UI Kit.

🌉 This might be the perfect reason for me to visit San Francisco more often— having Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk as investors on my side hustle DOJO+.

👨🏾‍💻 We’re getting there, but not quite yet. Hopefully, in a year’s time, Figma will acquire or feature more Low/No Code platforms like Framer.

👓 You absolutely have to check out the session on Designing next-gen user interfaces. It’s super futuristic and definitely worth watching.

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See you next week!

Designer, writer, educator, UX/UI advocate, and mentor for startups.

Juno Jo

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