Figma Support Forum

Do I really need a pro account?

I started with Figma I want to say about 6 weeks ago. Before this I have never used any design tool nor gotten into designing (brand new experience). Yeah I have cropped images before or resized them in gimp but I mean never seriously got into using any design tool before. So…

I am one individual learning, growing, and aspiring to enter the freelance market doing all aspects of web development (and entrepreneurship). From design to content creation to development, deployment, and maintenance. But, notably, I don’t have a team (its just me, alone). So I decided to upgrade to the pro plan because of the library sharing feature but I’m not sure I understood what that really meant or how it impacted my workflow (for better or for worse). Here’s one thing I experienced…

I learned that creating all kinds of components in a library without seeing how they fit together in an actual layout is kinda like flying blind (especially if you don’t have any experience). You create all these little pieces but you can’t really tell what they are going to look like in the actual layout (unless you had considerable experience to draw on, I suppose). Then you start using them in a layout and you find out everything looks like shit (wrong size, wrong dimension, colors don’t go well together, font sizes are wrong relative to viewport size, and so on). You already doubled or tripled your overhead (amount of work put in) by even involving a library - rather than just going for it organically and going straight for the raw design - now you’re having to go back and tweak the items in the library (over and over and over again) until it (hopefully) looks decent in the actual layout. I’ll be making 2 cents an hour at this rate! That’s one thing but I’m not sure it has much to do with features that come with the upgraded (pro) plan and whether I even gain anything from that.

So now I’m looking a the (3, three) features that come with the pro upgrade, and considering my experience with it, and wondering what real benefit there is to having it for a person in my situation.

  1. I’m told that you can still have libraries (and components and variants) even without that pro plan. That the only difference is whether you can “share” the library across files - not whether you can have the library at all.

Is that true? If so, then why do I need to “share” a library when I’m the only one in the team? Isn’t it good enough just to have a library?

  1. My friend (who has much more experience than I with Figma) encourages me that “there isn’t anything you can’t do with the free plan that you would need the upgrade for”. I think he’s trying to say there are workarounds. Is that true?

  2. What about “Prototype Sharing and Permissions”? Am I understanding that feature right? I thought it only applies to team member permissions but the way it reads makes you think that without it you can’'t show a client your prototype without them being able to make changes to it. I don’t want my clients to be able to do anything except experience a prototype - not have access to modify anything. When I did a trial run of a prototype with a friend (sitting next to one another physically in the same room) it didn’t seem like he would be able to do anything but see the prototype and interact with it. Was I wrong? Bottom line… do I need this feature to keep my clients from having access to the underlying design or not?

  3. “Private Projects”… What does this really mean? Private in the sense that anyone on the internet can see my design unless it is “private”? Or private in the sense that anyone on my team can modify the design unless it is “private”? These are two very different things! If it means public on the internet then that is not good and I would need the feature in order to hide it from public view (think private the way github or gitlab means private). However, if it means private in terms of team member access then I don’t have any other team members and I have no use for this feature.

Can anyone address any, each, or all of these points and offer assistance in determining my needs?

Thanks in advance.

I glanced over your points and it seems to me that you probably don’t need the pro plan team. Especially since you are just starting out.

  1. Libraries: you don’t need them unless you are working on design systems and large projects that don’t fit in one file. If the project fits in one file, you can store all your components and styles there.

  2. There are no workarounds, you simply don’t need the features on the pro plan. Figma is very permissive in the free plan.

  3. On the pro plan you can restrict viewers from copying your file. Otherwise if you are working with someone malicious they can simply duplicate your file to their drafts and they will keep access even if you remove them from the file. But this doesn’t give you 100% safety of course. Similarly, on the pro plan you can give people access only to the prototype: they won’t be able to view the file at all. On the free plan they can always open the editor and view all file contents, export them and duplicate the file.

    This is the only point I can see you may need but it doesn’t give you 100% safety against malicious clients. They could still take a bunch of screenshots and hire someone to copy them for five bucks on fiverr. So the best protection methods are a contract and the advance payment.

  4. Projects are like folders for files in teams. Private project means a projects that is not available to all members of the team, it’s only available to the members you share it with explicitly. Your files are not available on the internet without access on any plan.

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@Gleb you’re the best man. I came into this not knowin’ nothin’ :stuck_out_tongue: and I’ve had so many questions. It’s always you showing up to my rescue. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer so many newb questions. I’m sure you’ve saved me a lot of heartache and pain.


Blindly creating Components from just about everything you made is not that useful. It clutters your Library. Only create Components from items you KNOW you will be reusing, be it in other components, in frames or even pages within the same project/file.

I usually just design and when I need the same stuff again, its a that moment that I decide to create the Component. This way, only those items that are part of a websites basic design are duplicated, instead of everything.

PS: creating Components also helps when you (or your coder) decides to create the code, because the same basic Figma design principles (like resizing, alignment, other text, yet having the same color, fonts and padding) also applies when you code. Having a page with all your Components helps in the development process.

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That’s such a good advice! I have the same workflow and I can’t not mention that that’s one of the main reasons why I created plugin Master: it allows you to create components only after you need them.

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