Transitioning to Figma While Adapting to War

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  • #Product Design
  • #Figma

• 5 min read

Hey everyone! I'm Julia Lybenska, Design Manager and Product Designer at Setapp. We've been through a lot this year, and I'm gonna tell you about that.

Feel free to check out a full video on this topic at PawTech where I present more details and visuals.

Setapp team

I want to share our experiences, but first, let me give you a quick introduction to Setapp, our product team, and our journey with design tools.

Setapp is a curated app subscription service that connects users and developers, providing the right solutions for various tasks. Our product team consists of over 100 members, with 70% based in Ukraine. My design team includes a design lead, a design manager, three product designers, and four marketing designers.

Design tools at Setapp and transition to Figma

Now, let's talk about our design tools.

When I joined Setapp more than two years ago, the team used Sketch and Zeplin. We still use them today because that's how they designed Setapp back in 2016. Think of it as a habit, and quite a heavy habit it was!

There was no conversation about which tools to use. In rare discussions, Sketch would always be the winner. Why wouldn’t it? The “historic duo” worked for Setapp.

I knew very well how difficult and costly it was to migrate to another platform when your product has a web, app, dashboards, extensive design system, and many designers onboard.

I also understood it would be expensive and cause additional stress for the people. Yet I still proposed we should switch to Figma. But why?

I did it because it became trendy to be on Figma. Sorry, I couldn’t resist making this joke.

But seriously, we did it because missing on Figma would be equal to missing on probably the greatest productivity boost to product design – a solid reason even for the business context.

The main difference between Sketch and Figma is that Figma allows for collaboration and quick access to design layouts and prototypes. This is not only about synchronization between designers, but also a faster way to deliver design flows to developers. Instead of two tools, we could use just one. It was undeniably better for designing, prototyping, and collaborating.

Slowly but surely, and full of hope, our design team began a gentle transition to Figma.

It was early 2022.

Dark times

On February 24th, 2022, as we were planning to fully move to Figma, russia started a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and our priorities had to change. We faced problems with electricity, internet, and mobile connection, which affected our work with Figma.

If you are working in Figma and suddenly the connection is lost, Figma tells us that all of our changes will be saved and updated. If you try to open Figma without an internet connection, your work literally stops. That was the biggest problem because we don't know when the connection would return and if Figma saved progress after two or three days without connection.

Designing in crisis

Despite these challenges, we somehow managed to adapt and even continued working. To prepare for any emergency, we focused on several key areas, such as backing up and protecting our data, taking care of our team's safety, tracking stable electricity in our region, setting up a place with portable devices, finding a protected place, and preparing vital supplies for a week.

During the hardest times in this war, we relied on the Together app to check our teammates' safety after missile attacks. This app sends us a notification that asks us to check-in. We have three inputs to fill in: our location, if we are safe, and if we can continue to work. That was the most effective way for a company of our size to know if everyone was OK.

We also found ways to work efficiently during blackouts by scheduling our work hours around available electricity and using portable power stations, modems, and uninterrupted power supplies. As a result, we were able to launch two big features for our users, collaborate on partnership campaigns, and continue growing as a team.

I go into more detail about our work setup in the video.

Finalizing the transition

Two weeks ago, we restarted our process of transferring to Figma, focusing on education and learning. Our designers created workshops to help the team better understand the powers of the tool. After all, you can't fall in love with something before you understand its strength.


I hope you enjoyed reading about our experiences and that you find these tips helpful. I put more detailed information on working in an emergency in the video, so go check it out in case you face similar situations or just want to work while camping.

It was one of the toughest years for all Ukrainians, but we are stronger than ever.

We all learned how important it is to stay flexible and keep your sense of humor in any situation. Take care, and hope to see you in my video!

More about me

I am a design manager and product designer at Setapp, MacPaw. I used to work for creative agencies, government and non-profit organizations, and startups. Some of the projects even received honors from the community: The Webby Awards, Epica, and the Golden Drum. However, I take the most pride in consistently creating value for the end customer or user.


Designing in Crisis | Setapp, Figma, Sketch, blackouts and sense of humor

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