In this blog, we’ll go over what a component library is, the efficiency benefits they provide, and learn the basic steps to setting up and sharing a library. After which, we’ll touch on the best practices for managing and maintaining your library to ensure it doesn’t lose its functional purpose after the initial set up.
One note before digging in too deep, be aware that publishing libraries is only available on Figma’s Professional, Organization, and Enterprise plans.
What is a Figma Component Library?
A Figma component library is a collection of elements that are used repeatedly in a design project and define your brand/design, and can be accessed across Figma files. It can include buttons, icons, typography styles, and other elements that are commonly used throughout interfaces.
Figma Libraries can be extremely varied in complexity, ranging from a simple color library with your brand’s standard color palette to a more comprehensive pseudo design system. The latter meaning, one that tracks various components and their different states and is accompanied by extensive documentation and standards around their use.
Ultimately, the purpose of the library is to facilitate a cleaner and more refined design process, and it achieves just that.
The Benefits of Using a Figma Component Library
There are a few ways a Figma library translates into efficiency, so let’s jump into some of those reasons below.
Reusability & Never Starting from Scratch
By using a Figma component library, designers can save time reusing elements instead of creating them from scratch for each project.
Figma wireframe component libraries are one of the most common types of libraries because of this. If we compare any two interfaces, we can see that at their core they all boil down to the same fairly basic elements, including buttons, links, images, etc. Given the visually agnostic nature of wireframing, if you set up these elements for one project, you can leverage them across all. It’s something we use on a regular basis here at Solid Digital when we strategize and develop wireframes for a new project.
If using a wireframe library seems to be a large undertaking for smaller creative teams, there are other types of smaller scale libraries that are equally useful. Color component libraries and typography style libraries can save you the headache of finding the correct hex value or point size for your brand’s next project. This puts you at a point closer to the finish line earlier in the design process.
By acting as a central repository for reusable elements, a library can help maintain consistency in your designs regardless of team size.
The consistency comes about as a result of the properties of components, where you set up a main component and the changes you enact on it propagate to the copied instances of said component. Having one central location for your elements means that designers will not be making design choices that clash with each other and prompt the need to go back and rework visuals to match up design files.
Even with fewer cooks in the kitchen, if you are designing multiple screens of a product or site, having only one location to update your most common elements is still of great benefit. It means you won’t need to scour all the screens you’ve created, double-checking work when that last minute button color change comes down the pipeline.
Improved Collaboration & Reduced Noise
Through its ability to span across multiple Figma files, working on a project now ensures everyone is guided by the same base components when working. Instead of searching through multiple files or folders for a specific design element, designers can access what they need quickly and easily from the component library.
Whereas before, collaboration might have meant communication channels filled with back and forths to ensuring you’re working from the right design file, now there is one source of design truth to work from. This transforms the communication from mere logistics and brings it back to higher quality conversations around user goals, pain points, and more. Which brings us to our next point.
Reusability, consistency, and better collaboration all culminate in an increase in productivity. If you set up a team library, you as a designer can focus on the creative aspects of a project instead of spending time on repetitive tasks.
As a direct result, you’ll also minimize deviations when designing and long revision rounds that could previously grow large enough to derail a timeline. Now, “this won’t impact the timeline” is a phrase you’ll be able to more likely use and hear.
Setting Up a Figma Component Library
As mentioned earlier, libraries don’t all have to be as extensive as those created by corporations like AirBnB and IBM. They can be made up of a few elements to start and expand as a design evolves. This makes getting started as easy as 1,2,3……4!
- Create a new file: Start by creating a new Figma file for your component library.
- Create or import elements: Next, create your master components in the new file or import any design elements that you want to include in your library. This can be done by copying and pasting elements from other files, or by using Figma’s “Import file” feature to bring in files from other tools.
- Get organized: Start organizing your Figma library by grouping elements into categories, such as buttons, icons, or typography styles. Pages or slices are great options for sorting your components, but it really comes down to a preference and scale.
- Publish the library: In the assets tab, click on the book icon to open the Team Library window. From the window, select “Publish” and confirm all your styles and components. A description for your library can be set from the modal, it’s optional but we recommend it. You can then hit “Publish” and you’re all done!
From this point you can access the styles and components of this library from anywhere, just select the “Team Library” button in the assets panel from the file you are in and switch it on.
Figma Component Library Best Practices
While the set-up is straight forward, the real challenge is one of discipline in maintenance. If maximizing your efficiency is to actually work, upkeep cannot be ignored. So what are some tips to make sure your library is well maintained? Let’s look at a few here.
Use clear and descriptive names for your components to make them easy to find and use. Leverage the forward slash convention to nest components and styles within smaller folders to further improve your search experience.
Add the Latest Components & Styles
Regularly update your Figma component library to ensure that it remains relevant and useful. A rule of thumb you can use is that whenever you find yourself using a new element more than once, you add it to the Figma component library file.
Making Updates to Components
This one almost goes without saying, but when making universal updates to components, make them to the master component or style in the library. This way, your change carries throughout all your files and your mastery of libraries shines through!
Use Annotations & Descriptions
Include annotations and descriptions for each component to provide context and information on how to use it. This may seem nitty-gritty, but it can definitely push you in the direction of creating a smaller scale design system that sets a strong foundation for future projects.
Manage Version Control
When undo isn’t enough, use the “Show Version History” option to track changes to your Figma component library and to revert to previous versions. As the saying goes, it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
A Figma component library is a valuable tool not only for interface design, but for an organization’s efficiency as a whole. By setting up a Figma component library, your creative team can have access to a central hub of reusable elements that lets you focus on experience challenges and keeps projects on track like hasn’t been possible before.
But remember the importance of upkeep, only then will you be able to reap the full benefits of utilizing a library. Your organization and your future self will thank you for it!