UX challenges with comments and prototype navigation

Our design team creates Figma specs that our development team works from. The specs undergo repeated comment-discuss-comment-resolve flows in preview mode as we kick through the designs and have questions. This is likely a super-common flow for many teams, and our team is struggling a little with it. We’re hoping the community might be able to suggest improvements.

Developers get figma email notifications saying “designer A replied to a comment” with a “view the comment” button. But every single time they click the button it opens figma on the prototype where the comment is supposed to be… and doesn’t show the comment.

If the developer remembers to turn comment mode back on, then the comment appears, but since it is linking to a comment shouldn’t it do that by default? Is there a way to turn comment mode on permanently for your account? Currently it seems to leave comment mode off for every new window, and the email notifications always open a new window so it has to be turned back on each time. To turn comment mode on with the keyboard you use the ‘c’ key, but that requires the browser window to have focus. It has that focus by default, but it loses focus, then clicking anywhere on the prototype (to focus it) advances to the next screen, losing the link to the comment that you haven’t seen yet, and navigating backwards doesn’t cause the comment to show up again.

When turning comment notifications on, it slides out the comment panel from the right, but it also doesn’t remember the setting to fit the image to the width, so the actual design image gets clipped or the comment panel runs off the edge of the screen.

If the response to the comment gets long then the save button for the comment can go off the bottom of the screen. If you are writing a new comment and it gets long, you can no longer move a comment bubble while you have a pending comment (this appears to be a recent change). When this happens you can’t save the pending comment by hitting enter or using the mouse (you have to tab to the button you can’t see). Your other option is to cut the comment you just wrote out of the input box, move the comment, then paste it back in and see if you moved it far enough to see the save button, then move the comment back to the section of the screen that you were trying to comment on.

The edit mode improves the comment interactions, but has some limitations on navigation that make following the flow a little harder. The Preview mode has a sidebar of screens to walkthrough which is useful, so you can jump to named slides to compare different sections or walk through sequentially to follow the designer’s pre-determined sequence. Edit mode doesn’t show the sidebar with the slide names so you can’t jump to a named slide, but you can still navigate with the keyboard. This makes it a little harder to see the screens in context in edit mode

It seems like these flows should be very standard, and some of our team members do them dozens of times a day, so while the inconvenience of each one is minor, it adds a lot of friction to the process overall. Are we doing something wrong? Is there a better way?

Thanks for any suggestions, and sorry if my frustration is coming through in the wording. I really want to like Figma. It has a lot of good features, and has helped our design team a lot, but I feel like the commenting and revision flows are noticeably worse than in Invision which we used before, and that is where I spend most of my own time.

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I absolutely despise the new (as of 2 months ago) Comments functionality. Figma has taken a dramatic step backwards in usability, not just of Comments but in its utility as a collaborative design tool.

Our small Product + Design + Development team produces between us maybe 40-50 comments per day. At least 50% of the time when clicking on a Comment link embedded in a notification email – my preferred mechanism for keeping track of when a comment is made and reacting to it – upon navigation to the Figma page the Comment is ‘floating in space’, far above the canvas that lies beneath it in a highly-zoomed-out state. There is zero indication of which area of the design the Comment refers to – it requires a pure guess. These Comments are essentially completely removed/separated from any specific portion of the design. It was not always like this. Somehow the design team at Figma seems to have forgotten that collaboration is an inherent part of using this tool. Without this, it’s just a paintbrush.