Update: Articulate is now available on Figma Community - https://www.figma.com/community/file/977911677674075575/Articulate
Design is emergent. The directions that are taken during the exploration of the design territory are influenced by what is learned along the way, and by the partial glimpses of what might lie ahead. In design, the solution and the problem develop together. - Nigel Cross, Designerly ways of knowing
I think most of us will echo these thoughts by Nigel Cross. Riddled with the subjectivity of human psychology, different cultures and context, there's no direct way to arrive at a solution from a defined problem. We learn, implement and iterate as we work our way through the problem. And while going through the process, we have to also consider business needs, technological constraints/opportunities, and time - the deciding factor for any product development process.
So, here's our first problem statement - How might we account for these variables while designing?
There's no single full-proof method or process that can provide a concrete resolution to this problem statement. Design thinking will give you a direction but there's much more needed to deliberate, analyse, and document these factors as we work on design projects. If there's an explicit way to keep track of these variables and associated decisions , we can understand how the design evolved over a period of time. While I've made an attempt with an abstract model to understand design evolution, we also need a pragmatic approach for our "real-life" projects.
So, let me further break down our first problem statement - How might we track decisions and progressive work to understand design evolution?
Articulate is an attempt to have a pragmatic approach for answering the second problem statement. It's a basic Figma component that can be included in any working file. The component acts as a "cognitive nudge" to make you think and articulate the decisions as well as different states of design. Here's a small video that explains how you can use Articulate in your Figma working files.
The intention of this small utility is to let you document while working on the files. Going by the famous proverb "out of sight, out of mind", this component can help you be more cognisant about your design decisions.
You can customise it according to your needs. With Figma's auto-layout and variants, it's fairly easy to extend components.
Let me know your thoughts on what can be improved or how you plan to extend it. Reach me at Twitter.