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AI-powered website builders have taken the internet by storm ever since OpenAI showed GPT-4 building a website using a paper napkin sketch as reference. While many standalone services have launched, popular website builders like Figma seem to have fallen behind in the AI trend. However, its acquisition of AI company Diagram might change website building forever for Figma.
Just as Adobe waited and launched its Firefly GenAI service at the right time, it is waiting for the right time to add AI to Figma.
The Firefly formula explained
When Adobe Firefly was launched, many criticised it for being far behind Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, its competitors at the time. In addition to this, the Firefly launch was far behind the curve when it came to timing, with Adobe completely missing the text-to-image hype wave .
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However, Adobe completely changed the game by integrating Firefly’s capabilities into its widely-used suite of designing software. Through this integration, creative professionals could intuitively use generative AI features within the software. This addition to Adobe went beyond the novelty of using AI, with designers finding a real use-case for generative AI.
As an added benefit, the internet went gaga over generative fill in Photoshop, creating over 150 million generations using the new feature. Adobe also announced plans to bring Firefly to other software like After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Adobe XD. Now, generative AI has become another tool in the hands of designers, and will soon become a mainstay in the design process.
When looking at the current state of Figma, it is clear that the team behind it has only now started making moves into AI. Facing tough competition from its peers like WebFlow and AI-powered upstarts like Durable, Hostinger, and more, the Firefly formula will prove to be sink or swim for Figma.
Competing in a hot market
AI generated website builders have caught the imagination of web devs the world over. Many players in the website building space have already integrated AI into their offerings, leaving Figma to catch up.
Hostinger, a hosting platform for WordPress, is now offering website building with just a prompt. Wix, another popular website builder, recently introduced Wix ADI, an AI assistant for website building. Even without AI website builders, Figma is in hot competition. Another giant in the no-code website building market, Webflow, is slowly growing its user base of 3.5 million users, catching up to Figma’s approximately 4 million users.
When looking at Figma’s recent moves, it seems that the company is taking a much more measured approach to AI. Yesterday, Figma acquired Design, an AI-powered design tool company. This echoes Adobe’s move of partnering with NVIDIA for Firefly, allowing Figma to procure a set of well-built AI tools without having to build it themselves.
These AI tools are a far cry from the seemingly-unfinished offerings from Figma’s competition. The toolkit is made up of four plugins, namely Magician, Genius, Automator, and UI-AI. Magician takes care of the design aspect of Figma, bringing in AI features like icon, asset, and text generation.
Genius can create designs from prompts, automatically suggest improvements, iterate on existing designs, and even chat with designers to become a ‘personal design assistant’. Automator, as the name suggests, automates various design tasks. UI-AI directly brings AI models into the user interface, with no requirement for any code.
When looking at the competition, no other company has created similar offerings. At a cursory glance, it seems that the Firefly strategy has worked for Figma, allowing them to integrate a fully-integrated and feature-filled AI toolkit. However, this is just the first step for Figma’s AI strategy. Noah Levin, the vice president of Product Design at Figma, said in a blog, “Over the past year, we’ve built and grown a team dedicated to machine learning and accelerated investments in early development of Figma’s AI platform… the possibilities are endless, not just for design but across the entire product development process.”
Reading between the lines, it is clear that Figma is taking a calm and measured approach to AI, similar to what Adobe did with Firefly. Its acquisition of Diagram will not only strengthen this strategy by adding talent and pre-built AI products, but also ensure the creation of a fully-integrated project. Figma’s AI features will solidify its position as a market leader, cementing the success of the Firefly formula.