Comparison

ProtoPie vs. Figma: What Separates the Two Tools and When to Use Them Together?

Learn all about what sets ProtoPie apart from Figma and understand when to use each tool for maximum impact.

Gina Lim
Gina Lim, Growth MarketerNovember 4, 2021
ProtoPie versus Figma article thumbnail

TL;DR

  • ProtoPie allows you to create realistic and dynamic prototypes for multi-state scenarios that are either very hard to do with Figma or simply impossible with Figma alone.
  • ProtoPie offers essential high-fidelity prototyping features Figma doesn’t have.
  • It’s not an ‘either/or’ choice. For maximum impact, use Figma and ProtoPie together in your workflow 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 if you want to create simple clickable prototypes with a few states—merely focusing on a flow, not the actual interactions.

Even with a few states, it can quickly lead to ‘noodle chaos’ whenever you add more states and therefore more noodles. The wiring model makes sense in theory with the relationship between every frame linked together via these wires. Unfortunately, when a prototype grows in complexity, this becomes incredibly difficult to make sense of, manage, or maintain.

prototyping with figma
Organized chaos in Figma. Image by Luke Dowding.

To make prototypes with multiple screens, multiple states per screen, and realistic microinteractions—in a scalable way, Figma alone might not be the right set of tools for the job.

prototyping in Figma
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?

Figma is certainly 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 minimum number of states.
  3. Visual preview of the user flow.
  4. Early-stage prototyping without having to remake interactions.

When should you use ProtoPie?

But if your projects sound more like the list described below, you’re most likely better off using ProtoPie:

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

But what is ProtoPie?

ProtoPie is the easiest tool to turn your interaction design ideas into realistic prototypes. Create interactive prototypes for mobile, desktop, web, and IoT—anything digital, anything with a screen.

Designers and companies across the globe and different industries use ProtoPie daily—next to their UI design tool Figma—for prototyping today. Some of these companies are Microsoft, BMW, Headspace, Snap, and Electronic Arts.

What are ProtoPie’s essential features compared to Figma’s?

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 features. ProtoPie offers a range of essential features that make ProtoPie your go-to prototyping tool. Let’s delve into just a couple, exploring what they do and why they’re so valuable.

Text input

Prototypes must emulate real-life tools. If you are designing a smartphone app, your prototype needs to work just as one would use on an actual smartphone.

mobile keyboard prototype with text input
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, however, you’d have to go through the process of creating a complex set of wires prototyping the keyboard as a workaround. Otherwise, you have to ask people to rely on their imagination how they’d type. Not only is this more hassle and against the premise of realistic prototyping, it also takes much longer than if you were to instead use ProtoPie.

Try this example prototype with text input. Learn more about the input layer.

Media playback

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
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. Learn more about the Playback response.

Conditions

Conditions are the mainstay of any successful prototype, 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. On an actual phone, enabling airplane mode would lead to certain icons disappearing and others appearing while specific options being greyed out on the screen.

In Figma, with interactive components and variants, you can make your own reusable toggle button. However, it’d be pretty hard to make the toggle button affect other layers and interactions uniquely depending on a state. This is, on the other hand, where ProtoPie shines.

Control of sound prototype with conditions
Control of sound prototype with conditions.

Try this example prototype with conditions. Learn more about conditions.

Formulas & variables

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, e.g., email address validation, minimum password length, counting the number of items in a shopping cart, and determining the total account balance.

Formulas and variables enable you to add a level of realism and dynamic to your prototypes that you simply cannot by wiring frames together.
Checking a bank account balance prototype
Checking a bank account balance prototype.

Learn more about formulas and variables.

Camera, voice, and sensors

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

That’s why ProtoPie makes it easy to get 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.

Multiple devices

We live in an interconnected world. UX doesn’t have to be limited to a single device. People engage with a whole ecosystem of connected devices. Therefore, designers need to be equipped to prototype multi-device experiences.

Examples of a wide variety of multi-device scenarios:

  • Sending a text message from one phone to the other and showing a notification.
  • Picking up where you left on your smart TV after binge-watching the latest Netflix show on your tablet.
  • Playing a mobile game on a tablet with a physical game controller.
  • Adjusting your home security cameras from a single app.
  • Driving a car with a physical steering wheel while controlling the infotainment system by voice.
Messenger app prototype across multiple smartphones.
Gamepad integrated prototype.

Figma doesn’t allow you to go this far. To prototype scenarios like the ones mentioned 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 everyday already.

Learn more about the ProtoPie Industry Solutions.

Sharing & handing off prototypes

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

sharing and handoff prototypes
Sharing and handing off prototypes.

Increase the value of your prototype even more by delivering an interaction recipe to engineers. Let them know exactly what and how to implement.

Interaction recipes
Interaction recipes.

Try this example interaction recipe. Learn more about interaction recipes.

Benefit from the power of both Figma & ProtoPie

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

For purely prototyping, you could make a choice between Figma and ProtoPie. However, honestly, you don’t have to make an ‘either/or’ choice. In fact, Figma and ProtoPie work best when you use them together as they each serve different purposes.

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

Figma and ProtoPie
Figma and ProtoPie work perfectly together as they serve different purposes.

Learn more about how to establish a seamless workflow with Figma & ProtoPie.

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