How to Prototype In Figma

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Ever wondered what it means to prototype in Figma? Think of it like bringing life to your designs, making them clickable and interactive, just like a real app or website.

As a UX designer, my day-to-day work involves a lot of prototyping in Figma. Why is this step so crucial? It’s simple: Prototyping lets you and others experience and interact with your design before it’s fully built. It’s like giving a test run to your ideas.

Take for instance, how I use prototyping. It’s my go-to method for showing the development team exactly what I’m thinking.

They can click through the design, see how different parts interact, and get a real feel for the user experience. This not only sets clear expectations but also sparks discussions and ideas, helping us refine the design without having to redo everything from scratch.

In this article, we’ll explore how to make your prototypes interactive and clickable step by step.

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Building Your First Prototype in Figma

Note: The screenshots provided in this guide are from the Figma version for Mac. The interface on Windows or other platforms may have slight variations.

Consider this scenario: You’ve designed a project management tool with a focus on its menu. Before moving into development, you plan to conduct a user test on the menu’s user-friendliness. To make this possible, you’ll be using Figma to create an interactive prototype of the menu. 

Prototype Settings

Before you start creating a prototype in Figma, there are a few important things you need to do first. These steps are really helpful to make sure everything goes smoothly when you’re building your prototype.

Step 1: Figma starts in Design Mode by default. To begin prototyping, simply select ‘Prototype’ in the top right corner. This switches you to the mode where you can make your designs interactive.

Step 2: Each frame should have a distinct name to avoid confusion, especially when your prototype includes multiple screens. Simply click on the frame’s name in the top left corner to change it.

This small but crucial step can greatly streamline your workflow and make navigating through your prototype a breeze.

Step 3: Choose the frame where you want your prototype to begin. Then, click on the plus symbol to add a flow starting point.

This ensures that everyone who tries or reviews your prototype begins from the same place, maintaining a consistent experience for all users.

Add interactions 

Once you’ve set up your prototype’s basic structure, the next step is to make it interactive. This is where you bring your prototype to life by defining how users will navigate through your design.

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Step 1: Click on the element (like a button or link) within your frame that you want to make interactive. In this case, we will select tasks.

Step 2: With the element selected, drag the circular node that appears in the frame you want it to link to.

This creates a blue connection line between different parts of your prototype. A pop-up with different interaction settings will also appear.

Step 3: Figma offers a variety of interaction options to choose from, so select the one that best fits your design’s flow.

The first we will select is the action the user needs to do to interact with the design. Let’s choose “On click”, meaning the prototype will be interactive by clicking on the selected element. 

Step 4: For an even more refined look, try out Figma’s range of transition effects. These effects add a realistic feel to your interactions, much like in an actual application. In our case, let’s select the “Instant” transition.

This choice ensures that the change happens immediately, without any delay. With this final step, your design is now interactive.

Prototyping components

Prototyping components in Figma is a game-changer for demonstrating dynamic interactions. In this example, I will show you how to add a hover effect that makes the text bold when you hover over the design element in your presentation view.

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Step 1: Create a variation of your component, by clicking on “add variant”.

Step 2: Since we want the text to become bold when someone hovers over it with the mouse, we need to make one variant bold. Simply select the text, go to the right toolbar, and choose the bold option. 

Step 3: Click on the ‘Projects’ button. Then, pull the arrow from that button to the bold text you made. This links them up.

Step 4: Now, pick how the button should react. It’s usually set to react when clicked, but we need to change this. Click on the interaction and switch it to “While hovering”. 

Step 5: Now, place the component you’ve created into your prototype. Give it a try by hovering your mouse over it. If the text changes to bold as you hover, then you’ve nailed it – your interactive component is ready to go!

Other Questions?

Here you will find quick answers to questions related to prototyping in Figma.

How do you present your prototype?

After you’ve crafted and refined your interactive prototype in Figma, the final step is to present it. Before presenting, check all interactions and flows to ensure they work as intended. 

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Click on the ‘Present’ button in Figma, typically located in the top right corner. This shifts your prototype into a full-screen presentation mode, offering viewers the possibility to interact with your prototype. 

How do you share your prototype? 

At the top right corner of Figma, click on ‘Share’. You’ll have options to either send it directly via email or copy a link to share.

Figma provides three sharing permissions: “Can Edit,” “Can View,” and “Can View Prototypes.” Pick the one that fits your needs, and you’re all set to share your interactive design with others.

How do you change an existing interaction?

When you’re in Prototype Mode, first click on the frame you’re working with. Then, click on any part of the line that connects it to another frame.

This will bring up the prototype options menu. Here, you can easily change how your design elements interact with each other. 

Final Thoughts

The steps we’ve covered, from setting up your prototype to making it interactive, and finally presenting and sharing it, are key to transforming static designs into dynamic, engaging prototypes.

Remember, every prototype you create is a learning opportunity. Keep experimenting, keep refining, and most importantly, keep enjoying the creative process.

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