Accessible Design for a Remote World: In Conversation with Dylan Field of Figma

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Aug 29, 2023

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Accessible Design for a Remote World: In Conversation with Dylan Field of Figma

In the fast-paced world of technology, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. This is something Dylan Field, the co-founder of Figma, understands all too well. In a recent talk at SouthPark Commons, Field shared his insights on accessible design in a remote world, shedding light on his journey and the lessons he learned along the way.

Field's story begins with his application for the Thiel Fellowship, a prestigious program that encourages young entrepreneurs to pursue their ideas. The application process was lengthy, but it allowed Field and his team to generate a plethora of ideas. It was during this brainstorming phase that they stumbled upon the idea of using WebGL as the future of creative tools.

Curious about the potential of WebGL, Field reached out to Aviary, a company that had previously experimented with the technology. However, Aviary warned them against pursuing this path, stating that it was a terrible idea. Despite the cautionary advice, Field and his team believed they had valid reasons to explore WebGL further.

To gain insights and feedback, Field turned to Twitter, a platform where designers often congregated. Using a network visualization tool, he mapped out the networks of designers who inspired him, and then reached out to them via email. To his surprise, most designers were willing to meet up for coffee and provide feedback on the early version of Figma.

Armed with valuable feedback, Field and his team used the framework "Eliminate, Raise, Reduce, Create" to understand where Figma fit into the existing market and how they could differentiate themselves. Initially, their strategy was to build a community for designers, similar to Dribbble, where they could gather and collaborate. However, they soon realized that they needed to prioritize revenue generation before focusing on community building.

Field's advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to launch earlier than they initially planned. By doing so, they can generate excitement around their vision and gather valuable early feedback. He also emphasized the importance of finding spaces for people to gather, especially in a time when virtual interactions have become the norm. To illustrate this point, Field mentioned that during the pandemic, people even played virtual games within the Figma platform.

A Meaningful and Learning-Focused Social Strategy

In another thought-provoking post, the concept of a meaningful and learning-focused social strategy is explored. The author emphasizes the idea of personal learning as a social focus, where sharing insights and knowledge becomes a means of connecting with others.

To facilitate this learning-focused approach, the author mentions two tools: Glasp for public highlights and Reflect for private ones. These tools encourage consistent engagement with the content consumed, moving away from the habit of bookmarking without revisiting. By actively processing and discussing what is read, the author finds that focus and active learning are improved, ultimately enhancing the learning experience.

The purpose of this learning-focused social strategy is not to optimize content or gain popularity. Rather, it is about personal growth and development. By sharing and discussing ideas, the author aims to inspire others and be inspired in return. The goal is to reignite curiosity and excitement for learning, fostering a community of like-minded individuals who are passionate about knowledge exchange.

Incorporating Unique Insights and Ideas

Combining these two narratives, we can identify common points and connect them naturally. Both Field and the author of the second piece emphasize the importance of community and collaboration. Field's approach involved reaching out to designers and gathering feedback, while the author highlights the value of sharing insights and engaging in conversations.

Additionally, both narratives touch on the idea of launching early and gathering feedback. Field regrets not getting Figma to market sooner, while the author advocates for actively processing and discussing content rather than passively bookmarking it.

Actionable Advice

  • 1. Launch early: Don't wait for your product or idea to be perfect. By launching early, you can generate excitement and gather valuable feedback that can help shape your product and strategy.
  • 2. Foster community and collaboration: Reach out to individuals who inspire you and seek their feedback. Engage with your audience and create spaces for people to gather and connect.
  • 3. Embrace active learning: Rather than passively consuming content, actively process and discuss what you read. Highlight key insights, engage in conversations, and share your knowledge with others.

In conclusion, accessible design and a learning-focused social strategy are essential in today's remote world. By incorporating the principles shared by Dylan Field and the author of the second piece, we can create environments that foster collaboration, inspire curiosity, and promote personal growth.

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