Comparison 10 min read

ProtoPie vs. Figma: Which Tool is Better for Interactive Prototyping?

Discover the 8 reasons that set ProtoPie apart from Figma, and understand when to use each tool for prototyping.

Gina Lim
Gina Lim, Growth MarketerLast updated on April 6, 2022
ProtoPie vs. Figma, which tool is better for interactive prototyping?

TL;DR

  • ProtoPie allows you to create realistic, dynamic prototypes for multi-state scenarios. These are either very hard to do with Figma or impossible with Figma alone.
  • ProtoPie offers essential high-fidelity prototyping features Figma simply doesn’t have.
  • It’s not an ‘either/or’ choice. For the greatest prototyping impact, use Figma and ProtoPie together as they serve different purposes.

Figma is one of the world’s most well-loved UI design tools. While it’s not exactly a prototyping tool per se, it does have some prototyping capabilities. Designers can create click-throughs by linking frames together and adding some simple interactions. Figma is great for simple clickable prototypes with a few states—focusing on a flow, not the actual interactions.

Even with a few states, it can quickly lead to ‘noodle chaos’ whenever you add more. More states lead to more noodles. In theory, the wiring model of linking frames with each other makes sense. However, when a prototype grows in complexity, this becomes difficult to make sense of, manage, or maintain.

Organized chaos when prototyping in Figma.
Organized chaos in Figma. Image by Luke Dowding.

Figma alone might not be the right tool to make prototypes with:

  • multiple screens,
  • multiple states per screen,
  • or realistic microinteractions.
Figma might not be a suitable prototyping tool for multiple states per screen.
Each screen with multiple states would increase the number of wires significantly. Image by Steve Ruiz.

This is where ProtoPie comes in. By using ProtoPie instead of or alongside Figma, you will be able to create dynamic and realistic prototypes. Let’s dig into precisely how.

When should you use Figma for prototyping?

Figma is a great tool if your project meets the following specific use cases:

  1. ‘Isolated’ and simple interactions.
  2. Click-through prototypes with frames that have a few states.
  3. Visual preview of the user flow.
  4. Early-stage prototyping without having to remake interactions.

When should you use ProtoPie for prototyping?

If your projects sound more like the list described below, you'd be better off using ProtoPie:

  1. Scenarios with multiple states and dependencies.
  2. Conditional and cause-and-effect interactions.
  3. Interactions with specific touchscreen triggers.
  4. Interactions involving text input, voice, media playback, sensors, etc.
  5. Interactions across multiple devices.
  6. Interactions involving custom hardware.

What is ProtoPie actually?

ProtoPie is the easiest prototyping tool to turn your interaction design ideas into realistic prototypes. Create high-fidelity prototypes for anything digital, anything with a screen:

  • Mobile
  • Desktop
  • Web
  • IoT
  • ...and beyond

Design teams and their companies across different industries use ProtoPie daily—next to their UI design tool Figma—for all kinds of prototyping. Some of these leading companies are Microsoft, BMW, Headspace, Snap, and Electronic Arts.

Which benefits does ProtoPie provide for prototyping over Figma?

There’s no magic wand in design. Instead, designers must selectively pick the tools that they’re going to work with. Needless to say, these need to have the right benefits and features. ProtoPie offers a range of essential features making it your go-to prototyping tool.

Let’s delve into 8 benefits that ProtoPie has over Figma.

Add drag and scrollable areas to prototypes

You can make drag interactions and scrollable areas in Figma. They are limited to specific elements only. Also, they cannot influence other elements or interactions in the same frame.

In ProtoPie, drag interactions and scrollable areas can cause other interactions to happen. For example, dragging a layer to the right or left could decrease or increase the total score. You could prototype these kinds of interactions in a single screen.

Discover how scroll can affect other layers, e.g., parallax scroll.

Let people type real text in prototypes

Prototypes must emulate real-life products. If you are designing a smartphone app, your prototype needs to function like the final product one would use on an actual smartphone.

Let people type real text in prototypes with ProtoPie.
Mobile keyboard prototype with text input.

Imagine you’re prototyping a login page. In ProtoPie, add an input layer and some additional interactions. Done! In Figma, you’d have to create a complex set of wires prototyping the keyboard itself as a workaround. Otherwise, you have to ask people to rely on their imagination about how they’d type. Not only is this more hassle and against the premise of realistic prototyping, it also takes more time.

Try this example prototype with text input.

Play audio, video, and Lottie files in prototypes

Your designs need to be as rich as possible—there might be times when you need to insert media files into your prototypes. Hence, ProtoPie supports audio, video, and Lottie files.

Video player prototype with media playback, made in ProtoPie.
Video player prototype with media playback.

Figma, on the other hand, offers no way for users to directly embed audio or video. If you’re creating media-rich prototypes then there’s only one option: ProtoPie.

Try this example prototype with media playback.

Bring ‘if/then’ conditioning into your prototypes

Conditions are the mainstay of successful prototypes, setting out key ‘if/then’ rules. Imagine you have a reusable toggle button component. For example, toggle to the right to enable airplane mode, and toggle to the left to disable airplane mode. Enabling airplane mode would lead to certain icons appearing and disappearing. At the same time, specific options would get grayed out.

With interactive components and variants in Figma, you can make your own reusable toggle button. But, it’s difficult to make the toggle button affect other layers and interactions uniquely depending on a state. This is, on the other hand, where ProtoPie shines.

Example prototype with conditions, made with ProtoPie.
The position of the dial determines the number that is shown with conditions.

Try this example prototype with conditions.

Harness the power of dynamic interactions

ProtoPie’s formulas & variables are at the heart of dynamic interactions. This is one of the things that truly set ProtoPie apart from Figma or any other prototyping tool. By simply adding a formula to an interaction, a prototype instantly becomes dynamic.

Use formulas for dynamic interactions, for example,

Formulas and variables add a level of realism and dynamic to your prototypes. With solely wiring frames together, you wouldn't be able to.

Checking a bank account balance prototype, made with ProtoPie.
Checking a bank account balance prototype.

Get the most out of smart device’s built-in hardware

You want your prototypes to interact seamlessly with the hardware they’re designed for. Take smartphones and tablets, for instance. They come jam-packed with a range of hardware features.

ProtoPie gets the most out of your device's built-in hardware, e.g., camera, microphone, gyroscope, and proximity sensor. Prototyping Instagram or TikTok-like apps, voice assistants, dictation apps, mobile games, and augmented reality (AR) apps—it’s all possible with ProtoPie.

TV prototype with voice prototyping features.
Thermal screening kiosk prototype with camera & sensors.

Learn more about camera, voice prototyping, and sensors.

Make prototypes work across multiple devices

We live in an interconnected world. UX isn't limited to a single device. People engage with a whole ecosystem of connected devices. Hence, designers need to be able to prototype multi-device experiences.

Examples of a wide variety of multi-device scenarios:

Gamepad integrated prototype.

Figma doesn’t allow you to go this far. To prototype the mentioned scenarios and use them for usability testing, you’ll need ProtoPie. If you actually think about this, there are endless multi-device scenarios that people face every day already.

Sharing & handing off prototypes

To share prototypes with stakeholders for, e.g., user testing, usability testing, and implementation. Anyone can try your prototype in the mobile or desktop browser as well as in ProtoPie Player on iOS & Android.

ProtoPie enables prototyping handoff with interaction recipes.
Let engineers access the interaction values they via interaction recipes.

Increase the value of your prototype even more with interaction recipes for engineers. Let them know exactly what and how to implement. Try this example interaction recipe.

Use Figma & ProtoPie together

Figma is a good start but not enough when it comes to high-fidelity prototyping. To create realistic, lifelike dynamic interactions, you need ProtoPie’s essential prototyping capabilities.

For prototyping, you could make a choice between Figma and ProtoPie. But, why? You don’t have to make an ‘either/or’ choice. In fact, Figma and ProtoPie work best when used together as they each serve different purposes.

Use Figma when designing the UI of your product and flesh out ideas visually. Once ready, import your Figma designs into ProtoPie, and create dynamic, realistic prototypes. While iterating, go back and forth between the two as much as you see fit.

Import designs from Figma into ProtoPie.
Figma and ProtoPie work perfectly together as they serve different purposes.

Ready to benefit from the power of both Figma & ProtoPie?