Figma Integration and the ‘Toolbox for Design Teams’

As I touched on in my release notes for Release Totti, we’ve been working on some big changes when it comes to Smart Graphics and the way those templates are designed, which involves integrating one of the most popular design tools on the planet right now, Figma. So, as promised, I’m now going to go into a bit more detail about what exactly those changes are and why we’re excited about them.

At the core of Smart Graphics there are really three principles that we want to shine through. Firstly, it’s about making data-rich graphics accessible and easy to create, secondly, we want to enable users, like editorial or social teams, to be self-sufficient in those data-rich graphic ambitions, and finally, on the flip side, we strive to alleviate the pressure on design teams, who are more often than not overburdened with servicing entire businesses. 

This particular project is focused on how we can make designing graphics and templates for the Toolbox as streamlined and simple a process as possible for those already busy design teams.

What have we been working on?

There are three big parts to this project – two that we’ve done already and a third that we’ll begin work on in the next release. 

The first of those is effectively the ‘integration’ part, in other words, making sure that you can easily design graphics and templates within Figma and that those designs can then be read by the Toolbox as layers, and assets etc. and not just one, flat image.

This is the same process we currently have with Illustrator, however, this involves a lot of specific formatting techniques and other niche requirements that make that process a little slower than we would like.

Thanks to Figma being Illustrator’s cooler and more modern younger brother, instead of you having to do all the formatting work yourself, we’ve built a plugin that will automatically format your designs for you. So, once you’re done with your design, you just run the plugin and you’re now ‘Toolbox Ready’. No more fiddling with formatting options and different settings, you can now focus all your time on the bit that matters – the actual design. 

We’ll save some of the detail on this for a possible future, more in-depth article but this project also involves several smaller features that iron out various quirks that come with carrying out this process via Illustrator. In short, this means your designs retain all their features as intended and nothing needs re-adjusting or resizing when initially uploaded. Nice.

The second part we’ve been working on is the ability to send your beautiful, newly formatted graphics directly into the Toolbox from within Figma so that you no longer need to go through an export and upload process to make them available. Once again, you can simply click a button when you’re ready and the plugin will send your file off into a directory where the Toolbox can find it and pull it straight into your template library.

The more important bit here is that this means you can now make adjustments and overwrite existing templates without needing to start the export, upload and mapping process all over again. So when someone in the social team suddenly remembers an extra stat they forgot to include in their brief, you can simply add it, click ‘Overwrite’ and you’re good to go.

Although the template upload process itself is fairly straightforward and quick, this should have a big impact when it comes to scale. For example, in times like the new season starting when rebrands tend to happen, the time this will save on feedback and amends across a full library overhaul is invaluable.

What’s coming next?

We’ve saved the best (and also largest and most complex) part ‘til last; data enabling. In the yet-to-be-named Release V, we’ll be working on another addition to the plugin, the ability to ‘prep’ (or what we would internally call ‘map’) a template. Essentially, this is the process of identifying and labelling parts of the graphic so that the Toolbox knows that ‘this field is a stat title’, ‘this image is the player’s headshot’, ‘this one is a team badge’ etc.

Currently, that process happens within the Toolbox once you’ve uploaded the template, however by moving it within Figma, what was previously a three-step process – design, upload, mapping – becomes a singular, seamless one where all of that can happen as you are designing.

All in all, this should enable designers and design teams to focus on the design itself and minimise all the extra, low-value steps that just add friction and slow down the time for graphics to be ready and available. And, quicker design means more graphics in the hands of the teams that need them most.

If you would like to learn more about any of the above, please get in touch here or by emailing