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

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Sep 24, 2023

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

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, accessible design has become more important than ever before. With the rise of remote work and the increasing reliance on digital tools, it is crucial for designers to create products and platforms that can be easily accessed and used by everyone. This article explores the insights shared by Dylan Field, the co-founder of Figma, during his conversation about accessible design in a remote world.

Field's journey towards creating Figma began with his application for the Thiel Fellowship, an opportunity that encouraged him to think outside the box and generate innovative ideas. During this process, Field and his team realized that WebGL would be the future of creative tools. Intrigued by this concept, they reached out to Aviary, a company that had previously experimented with WebGL. Aviary's cautionary advice, urging them not to pursue this path, provided valuable insights into the challenges they might face. However, Field and his team believed they had a unique perspective that could make WebGL work for them.

To gain further insights and feedback, Field turned to Twitter, a platform where designers frequently shared their work and ideas. Using a network visualization tool, he identified designers who inspired him and mapped their networks. Field then took the bold step of reaching out to these designers, offering to buy them coffee in exchange for their feedback on the early product. This approach not only allowed him to gather valuable insights but also helped him build connections within the design community.

However, Field soon realized that their initial strategy was flawed. They had planned to build a community for designers, similar to Dribbble, where they could collaborate and share ideas. But they recognized the need to prioritize revenue generation before building the community. This shift in strategy, as Field explained, meant adopting a "come for the tool, stay for the network" approach.

Reflecting on his experience, Field offers some actionable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and designers. Firstly, he emphasizes the importance of launching earlier than anticipated. By getting their product out into the market sooner, entrepreneurs can generate excitement and receive valuable early feedback. Field admits that he wishes they had launched Figma a bit sooner, as it would have allowed them to hire great people and build their own culture faster. However, he cautions that launching prematurely without satisfying user needs can be detrimental to the success of the product.

Another valuable insight shared by Field is the significance of creating spaces for people to gather. The pandemic has demonstrated the increasing need for virtual spaces where individuals can connect and engage with one another. Field highlights how people have even started playing virtual games within Figma, showcasing the platform's versatility and potential as a gathering space.

The second content titled "Do Things, Tell People" offers additional insights that align with Field's approach. The key idea behind this concept is to create something that you can talk about and find events where you can share this creation with others. By showcasing something interesting and unique, you not only demonstrate your skills but also spark conversations and connections. This approach helps you make a name for yourself and positions you as someone with valuable expertise.

Incorporating these ideas into the larger context of accessible design, it becomes clear that creating inclusive and user-friendly designs is not enough. Designers need to actively engage with their target audience, seek feedback, and share their work to build relationships and establish themselves as experts in their field. By doing so, they can attract potential clients, job offers, and investors who are drawn to their innovative and creative approach.

In conclusion, the conversation with Dylan Field sheds light on the importance of accessible design in a remote world. It highlights the need for designers to embrace new technologies, gather feedback from the community, and prioritize revenue generation. Additionally, the insights shared in the second content reinforce the significance of creating something unique and sharing it with others to build connections and establish oneself as an expert. By incorporating these actionable advice, designers can enhance their approach to accessible design and thrive in the evolving digital landscape.

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