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Leveraging Figma to empower innovation and elevate design excellence in the pharma industry

20 Sep 2023
Designs like Nike's distinctive 'swoosh' and McDonald's recognizable 'golden arches' are etched into our minds. Good design, whether for a simple post-it or a complex pharmaceutical product, has the potential to impact human lives.
In fact, according to a McKinsey report, companies that excel at design grow revenues and shareholder returns at nearly twice the rate of their industry peers.
In the realm of the pharmaceutical world, designers have had to communicate complex information clearly and concisely while navigating the intricate regulatory landscape. Yet, their potential is often constrained by complexities such as demanding collaboration, profound user understanding, and regulatory adherence.
To streamline, accelerate, and scale the design process, numerous organizations have started developing global design systems, a collection of design components, and a set of standards guiding the use of those components to create countless assets. Until recently, there was no consensus on the platforms used to create these design systems among organizations and external agencies. However, with Adobe acquiring Figma for 20 billion USD and planning to withdraw XD product support by 2024, there is a growing frenzy among pharma organizations to adopt Figma quickly and easily.
While this unexpected shift might appear nuanced, even tedious initially, it ushers in a host of opportunities for pharmaceutical companies to enhance efficiency and speed by strengthening their UX design processes.
This article delves into how organizations’ internal UX design teams and vendor partners can seamlessly embrace Figma. It also explores how Figma could gradually help rectify the slow and fragmented design operations in the pharmaceutical industry and accelerate the adoption and implementation of robust design processes.
Figma boosts design efficiency
Pharma companies often rely on an agency of record (AOR), brand teams, and production partners to work collaboratively to meet their design requirements across audience groups, geographies, and markets. As a result, establishing a truly collaborative design process is challenging due to the variation in tools used by different entities involved.
With all members adopting Figma, multiple designers, and reviewers can work on a single live file simultaneously, mitigating version conflicts and duplicate efforts. Moreover, Figma allows non-design team members to participate in the end-to-end design process, eliminating transparency issues and encouraging innovation. This enables organizations to foster a culture of collaboration that enhances efficiency, accelerates speed-to-market, and eliminates redundancies.
Security: Figma’s Forte
Confidentiality is paramount in the pharmaceutical realm. Figma eases this concern with its SOC 2 Type II audit certification, a security compliance standard for software companies in the United States. Notably, Figma is among a select group of 17 companies to receive compliance certification from the EU Cloud Code of Conduct, the gold standard for data protection in Europe's cloud sector.
Efficiency vs cost: Figma strikes the right balance
In the case of larger organizations, Figma’s enterprise license provides access to multiple teams, enabling design systems and assets to be accessed by a larger community. The platform's dashboard view helps organizations track high and low-performing assets, thus, driving temporal and cost efficiencies.
For smaller organizations, Figma's free view license enables AORs to add the company's team members as reviewers. And with multiple non-designers involved in the design process, Figma drives better cost-savings for the entire ecosystem compared to other platforms.
Empowering modular content
The growing need for personalized experiences among physicians and patients has prompted several organizations to build capabilities to adopt modular content in a scalable and sustainable manner. A modular content approach transforms overall content operations by enhancing content reuse and efficiency. And Figma greatly enhances this capability. By seamlessly integrating with an organization's digital asset management system, Figma assimilates content modules, templates, or even existing assets, tailoring them to suit the preferences of the target audience. Furthermore, content marketers can make real-time edits in an Excel sheet linked to a Figma design file, bypassing the need for comments on PDFs or Word documents. Finally, by enabling reviewers to appraise, annotate, and collaborate on the fly, Figma improves the efficiency of the medical, legal, and regulatory affairs (MLR) review process, enabling a faster time-to-market for content.
Adoption simplified with Figma
Figma is known for its user-friendly and intuitive interface, making it easy for all members of the content and design ecosystem to adopt and master it. Figma has also fostered a substantial community of designers to create a database of user-designed interfaces, widgets, plugins, add-ons, and applications. This eases the learning curve for new designers by offering enriching access to resources and robust support from a vibrant community of global design experts.
Tailored to fit
Every organization operates with distinct processes and technological infrastructure. To ensure that Figma blends seamlessly into its existing ecosystem, organizations can customize the platform by utilizing several paid and free plugins available in Figma’s library. If a particular plugin is unavailable in Figma’s library, organizations can also collaborate with developers to create bespoke solutions, in a cost-effective manner.
Smooth migration
Figma has numerous automated plugins that enable seamless transfer of files from Adobe Cloud or Sketch. In instances where assets are developed using Adobe XD on the Creative Cloud or Sketch, numerous automated plugins are available to facilitate the swift import of files into Figma. However, it's important to note that ongoing projects in Adobe or Sketch are ideally completed within the existing platform before transitioning.
Although the transition to Figma may entail temporal and financial implications for design systems during the initial transition and setup phase, the subsequent, significant efficiency gains and cost savings far outweigh these and render it a prudent and far-sighted choice in the long run.
In a nutshell
Design's influence extends across various facets of the pharma industry, encompassing drug development, packaging and labeling, branding and marketing, user experience, regulatory compliance, clinical trials, and data visualization.
Figma is not just a tool, it is a catalyst for organizations to power design excellence by tailoring the platform to their requirements, performing multiple tasks efficiently, and bolstering collaboration among global and local teams to drive a culture of innovation.


Vinod Gowda
Vinod Gowda