Figma, Adobe, and the Future of Content Design

On September 15, 2022 Adobe announced an acquisition to acquire the UX Design platform Figma for an estimated $20 billion. Why such a huge price-tag for a design platform? The Figma system represents a larger shift in the design and collaboration space than merely another tool. This article will examine the causes behind this acquisition and speculate on some of the larger impacts these ecosystems coming together will have on the future of modular content.

Figma is a software company that provides a platform for designing and prototyping digital products. It was founded in 2012 with the goal of revolutionizing the way designers collaborate and create user interfaces. Within the design industry, Figma offers a cloud-based design tool that allows teams to work together in real-time, regardless of their location. With its intuitive interface and powerful features that include community submitted plugins, Figma has become a popular choice among designers and product teams worldwide. It has gained recognition for its ability to streamline the design process, increase efficiency, and foster collaboration, making it an essential tool for modern digital design projects.

Why acquire Figma?

But why acquire Figma for $20 Billion when they could simply develop their own platform for a likely smaller price tag? Well, in short they tried. Back in 2018, Adobe XD was released as a prototyping tool compatible with their product suite. However, Adobe XD was not able to offer the same level of real-time collaboration as Figma, which is a key feature of Figma's platform.

By acquiring Figma, Adobe gains access to this technology and can integrate it into their own product suite, potentially improving their offerings and making their platform more competitive. Additionally, acquiring an already established platform like Figma may be more cost-effective in the long run than developing a similar platform from scratch.

The View from Inside Figma

During a Figma all-hands regarding the acquisition in September 2022, there were a number of threads that are of interest to anyone following the transaction. Whether or not all of this is still true in a year from now remains to be seen, but the overall strategy as articulated makes sense and should be reassuring to anyone invested in the figma ecosystem. Here is some of the key points:
  • Figma will remain autonomous and growing
    • No plans to integrate Figma into the creative cloud suite
    • Maintain the free membership tier and the free education license offerings
  • The existing Figma team to maintain current focus and priorities
  • The Figma community program to remain a high priority
    • Plans to expand it even further
    • “nothing without our community”
  • Major updates to include
    • Leverage Adobe expertise in imagery, video, vector, and 3D assets
    • New tools for developers
    • Releasing “design tokens” that are currently under development

How does the Figma acquisition impact CX design?

Adobe has positioned itself as a leading solution for a holistic approach to CX design and application. Along with already providing complete tool sets for multimedia and graphic design with their creative cloud suite, Adobe offers industry-leading tools for User Experience Management tools – notably AEM. With the acquisition of Figma, this continues to cement Adobe as an authority in the customer experience lifecycle, by providing a design tool for UX and UI.

When it comes to design tools, Figma is one of the best options out there. It offers several features that facilitate collaborative design and empowers users to create designs without requiring any technical knowledge.

With Figma, it's easy to learn and implement design skills to deliver UX that enhances customer experiences. You can perform prototyping, brainstorming, revisions, and UI design handoffs all with the same tool. 

Figma also works with components, making it so popular among designers.

Components are elements that you can reuse in your designs. They help you create and manage consistent designs across projects. Components can be as simple as shapes, buttons, or fields, or more complex prototypes like cards and menus.

Each component has its configuration panel that allows you to customize its appearance and behavior for each project. You can store these reusable parts in libraries so they are easily accessible when you need them again, or share them with others who may have similar needs.

“Figma has been a design community darling for the last three to four years, rocketing up to (an estimated) ~77% market penetration for Product Design tools” (Steve Dennis)

Figma’s successful Community focused on Modular Design

One key aspect to keep in mind is that Figma built an incredible open community around modular design components. The Figma platform is more than just a tool, it is a  design ethos and community. 

The ethos is based on constant collaboration and innovation through its open community of plug-ins. By leveraging these plug-ins, users can customize their products or services exactly how they need them while still taking advantage of existing features developed by experts within the community.

Stable plug-ins provide users with greater control over how their designs look and function while also giving them access to cutting-edge advancements in design technology which helps ensure success both now and in the future. For anyone looking for an efficient way to develop digital products or services, engaging with the Figma community should be high on the list of priorities! 

And Adobe is buying this component-based approach – not just a set of collaborative design capabilities.

The missing ingredient to UX Design

In looking at the design tools, there’s something missing from the conversation: the words. Design needs pictures, vectors, AND words. It needs all the content, and content is changing. It’s no longer enough to use Lorem Ipsum for place-holder text only for the design to be compromised or re-worked late in the cycle with the actual content  inserted.

Content structures matter more than ever, as content elements like titles, teasers, summaries, offers, calls to action, and anything else needs to match across web, mobile, watch, landing page, email and other versions. To achieve this, headless systems are bringing reusable component content patterns into the mainstream. Most designers just don’t have the time to track down external documentation to look at the content standards, or pull up the spreadsheet to make sure they are working with approved components. They design what they want and make developers figure out how to make it wire up in the back-end.

This approach works… as long as nothing needs to be fast, work together, scale, dynamically assemble, or personalize! That's why [A] built the Schematica set of tools to connect design and technology together for component content management systems. Getting headless and design systems to work together.

We believe the future of content is structured, compostable, and collaborative and the tools that power this future must be the same. That is why we created Schematica, an integrated set of products that enhance the flow of structured content between designers, developers, and strategists.

Schematica makes it possible to work with content in a way that's more efficient and productive than ever before. From complete software solutions to a variety of plugins, we create bridges across content systems and content silos. 

But designing with placeholder content often leads to broken experiences and frustrating re-designs. With RealContent, a plug-in that is compatible with Figma, it is easy to drop live content directly into Figma because content gets sourced straight out of your content management system.

This means that dragging content onto a page and building customer experiences from that is so much easier than starting over with a blank slate every time there's an update or change of direction. 

With RealContent you can forget about copy-paste by securely connecting to your Content Management System instance, avoid costly revisions, and improve UX. 

But how do teams ensure we can utilize our content templates to their full potential? 

This is where CoreModels, the world's first content model management platform was built especially for teams moving to headless that need to connect modular content to design processes and content technology.

The platform offers easy-to-use templates for creating visualizations of your content models, making it simple to understand how content is connected and organized. 

Stop wasting valuable time and resources trying to manually manage every single channel – CoreModels is here to help! With its intuitive platform and streamlined processes, CoreModels enables teams to easily create and deliver content across an entire organization without having to invest in expensive new departments.

What to expect for the future of Component Content in Design

As the design space continues to innovate with the inclusion of more tools and connected systems empowering our creatives, here is what we can expect to emerge:
  • Component content as part of the digital production ecosystem.
  • Integrated content automatically imported from a headless CMS.
  • Interacting with modular content components the way you interact with modular design components.
  • Adobe, and others, will see the advantage of an integrated, headless ecosystem working seamlessly around design collaboration. 
    • This makes the whole ecosystem more valuable!
  • Content and experience designers collaborating with a set of modular-content tools that connect to the design systems.

What is keeping us from this today? The trouble is, content is hard. It has its own schemas from various systems. That might be Adobe Experience Manager, or it might be Contentful, Kontent.AI, ContentStack,, or any of hundreds of other API-exposed content systems. Companies are beginning to understand the immense financial and team-building advantages of connecting systems and utilizing shared standards. [A] enables clients to leverage these techniques for success. For tailored integration or consultation, reach out—or try out one of our easy-to-use plugins if you already have Figma in place!

In conclusion, there is a lot of emotion and commotion around the Figma acquisition. Many users are scared that the unique features and benefits Figma brought to the industry as an independent platform might be lost. However, we think it will work out. The market will keep Adobe focused on collaborative solutions and ecosystems of modularity. Figma will help revolutionize the design culture at Adobe and around the world. More modular, more collaboration. And we believe, with RealContent, more content-integrated.
Related Article: What the Future of UX Design Needs
See the key takeaways from a 2023 design survey on how designers are working with tools and what missing systems are needed.