FigJam – Can it replace current whiteboarding tools?

The answer to this is a clear no. In its current state there’s no reason to make the switch if you use tools like Miro or Mural for your workshops, as I do. If you need a quick and easy way to get some thoughts on a virtual whiteboard, then maybe yes.

Okay, let me share my thoughts on this, so you can make up your mind at the end of the article if FigJam might be an option for you.

The Pros

First of all, I’ve been looking forward to a virtual whiteboard tool from Figma. I love Figma. It’s a great tool. So I was pretty excited when I first heard there was something in the works.

Now the Beta of FigJam has been released. The first thing I noticed was that it runs super smooth and fast, although I didn’t expect anything less from the makers of Figma. It’s the same experience you get from using Figma. So, no surprises there.

It’s also very simple currently. You’ve got your sticky notes, your shapes, a pen, stamps (think emojis and thumbs up/down icons you could use for voting), connector arrows and a library (I’ll get to that in a second). Of course you can also drop in images and scale and crop them to your liking – again: performance is off the hooks! Miro take a note here. I’d really like to see Miro having such a smooth engine.

So, there’s really not much more to say here. It has a very reduced set of functions that work very well. It may be enough if you don’t have to set up more complicated workshops and need a simple way to put sticky notes on a virtual whiteboard.

Update April 23, 2021: I think the current toolset minus the library would be excellent for clients participating in a workshop. That’s all they need and it’s easy to use. Miro and Mural can be pretty overwhelming for clients with all those different tools they’ll never have to use.

The Cons

But even with those few tools I already see some problems. I have no idea why those decisions have been made, even in this early stage of the product.

Not enough colors

I don’t get it. Miro had the same problem in the beginning. Why restrict me to 8 colors? Why not more? Or even better: let me choose the colors. It can’t be that hard to add that. I do prefer to build my workshops with brand colors or at least colors that are somewhere in the range of the brand colors. Please add more colors or a color wheel.

One more strange thing with the colors. Red is not red somehow. When I set the background to red on a shape, it shows up orange in the toolbar and in the shape. Probably some bug.

Sticky notes not resizable

Now that’s a strange one for me. I can’t resize sticky notes or choose between square and rectangular ones. That’s a must for me.

What’s the library?

The library is a strange beast. It’s a mix of symbols and clipart, but there’s also components to be found. For example the Agenda kit. Drag one of the clip board symbols to the board and there’s suddenly a clipboard with text fields that you can edit.

The idea seems to be that you can add your own or public libraries of components there, so you can easily reuse complex templates. I actually see a lot of potential in this. But right now, it’s a strange mix. I’d remove all those symbols and clipart from the library and put them into some additional icon finder tool. That’ll just get too messy in the future the way it’s being mixed up right now.

No facilitation tools

The one thing I miss most is some kind of facilitation tools. What I mean by that are a timer, a way to make people follow me while I move across the board, frames to keep the board clean and a way to hide objects or groups of objects. I do need those for my workshops.

Well, at least you can lock items.

Would I use FigJam for workshops?

Not right now. I need more options and some more facilitation tools. All of the cons mentioned before might be solved in a future release. So, there’s still hope.

I would love to see them put out a super smooth whiteboard tool that’ll make Miro and Mural and the likes cry. But in its current state, it’s hard for me to find a reason to make the move from Miro to FigJam.

Let’s wait and see. You can give it a try here: https://www.figma.com/figjam/brainstorming-tool/. There’s also already a place for community templates you can check out here: https://www.figma.com/community/figjam

Figma wasn’t there in the beginning and then they left everyone else in the dust. I’m really looking forward to what might come. Please don’t disappoint, FigJam!