Do Design Tools Matter?

Do tools matter? If so, how can the tools we use affect our ability to do our jobs as church communicators?

Do Design Tools Matter?
Photo by Mario Gogh / Unsplash

Do tools matter? If so, how can the tools we use affect our ability to do our jobs?

Today Adobe announced its intent to acquire the popular user interface design tool Figma. If you are unfamiliar with Figma, it's a web-based interface design tool launched in 2016 that has been hailed as a replacement for Adobe XD and other interface design tools. Some users have taken it at far as being their go-to graphic design software for tasks other than user interfaces as well.

Figma announcement video from Adobe

Many Figma users have expressed their alarm over the intended acquisition and are questioning the future based on past experiences with Adobe. However, Figma's CEO, Dyland Field, took to Twitter to try to ease some of these fears by saying that "Adobe is deeply committed to keeping Figma operating autonomously," going on to say that he will remain the CEO and there aren't currently any pricing changes planned.

Acquisition announcement by Dylan Field, CEO of Figma

Personally, as an Adobe user, I'm excited about the potential for great integrations with Figma and the Adobe ecosystem. For example,, another company recently acquired by Adobe, has added deeper integrations with Premiere Pro and After Effects enabling editors to send previews and get feedback more efficiently. Still, I know that others who use alt-tools like Affinity, Resolve, and Canva fear that losing Figma to Adobe will result in Figma being embedded deeper in the Adobe ecosystem. For the same reasons that I love it, others hate it. Isn't that how most things work in life?

A gif with an actor saying "Ooh, yeah um I'm going to have to go ahead and sorta disagree with you there".
We can still be friends, right?

For many years especially in the church world, there's been a trend towards using alt-tools. Reasons behind this is that many industry-standard Adobe Creative Cloud applications can have a steep learning curve and some users want to avoid on going software subscriptions. The benefits and savings of the proposed alternatives are highly debatable, but still, many have caught on with growing user bases. Infographics like the one below from an Instagram account called Quzeco are often circulated among Facebook Groups and other forums to help new digital creators discover potential Adobe software alternatives. Some are even better than the Adobe offering, but most don't come close.

An infograhpic listing the various free and paid alternatives to command Adobe programs and apps.
Image via @quzeco

When advocates of alt-tools are criticized, they often label others as "gatekeepers" or trolls. While sometimes there may be truth to it, there is usually valid reasoning to support both sides. It's the nature of the creative personality type to look for an alternative, aka creative, solution. Sometimes in a quest to discover an easier alternative, creatives end up spending more time and money than if they just did it right the first time. Rather than criticizing others for using or not using a certain tool, let's take the time to learn why we need our tools and what role with need them to fulfill.

Gif from the Lord of the Rings series dipicting a gated midevil fortress labeled "Open the gate".

The right tools can be very valuable in the hands of the right person, but how do we know what the right tools are? Figma has clearly defined itself as a leader in the creative software space so much that Adobe has decided to add it to its portfolio of industry-standard tools. That signals that maybe the best tools are those that have the capabilities to enable creators to create without being bound by tool limitations.

For example, one of my greatest critiques of Canva is that it's slow to use, costs just as much as Photoshop, and imposes significant limitations on designers. Does that mean it's a bad tool? No. It has its place. But it does mean that those limitations should be aknowledged and considered in the decision-making process. Is it a waste of time to learn something that will only hold me back? I think so.

That brings us back to the opening statement of this post: "Do tools matter? If so, how can the tools we use affect our ability to do our jobs?"

Photo by Matt Artz / Unsplash

When you're working with a tool every day, even a few seconds of extra efficiency add up to hours, and niche limitations rear themselves up as hindrances when you have to do something new or innovative. Selecting your tools is a process that will change the way you work and either help you be a better creator or hold you back. Key factors that must be considered include:

  • Choosing an ecosystem that tightly integrates with adjacent tools and disciplines
  • Allowing you to benefit from knowing how a company lays out its apps
  • The ability to work alongside industry professionals using common file types
  • Availability of templates, plugins, and other starter resources
  • And finally, the community surrounding the tools that provides learning resources, videos, and tutorials

Specifically, as church creators, you and your volunteers can benefit from using industry-standard tools by gaining skills that can go on a resume.

Knowing which tools you and your team can best use to complete your roles and responsibilities can equip you to be a more effective leader and result in smoother and faster results.

Gif of a man walking labeled "When you get to Home Depot and you already know which aisle you need"
Know your tools!

We've added a new feature to The Church Factory website that allows signed-in members to add comments to posts. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Adobe + Figma acquisition and only the value of tools in general! I know the "tool wars" are a controversial topic, so please be constructive.