Table of Contents 💡

How much auto layout do designers need to use?

You have to use Figma’s auto layout. You’re a terrible designer if you don’t. That’s what many designers within the design community say.

Some designers claim the opposite, too. They say there’s no need to use auto layout at all because it hurts creativity.

How much auto layout do UX and Product designers need to use?

But which one is true? Should or shouldn’t UX and product designers use auto layout?

Here’s the answer based on my ten years of experience working on actual (product) design projects.

Table of Contents

Should UX and product designers use auto layout?

As a designer in Figma, you should always use at least some form of auto layout. How much depends on your project’s stage in the design process.

  • If you’re still figuring out the overall customer journey and important user flows, you only need a minimum amount of auto layout.
  • If you have the big picture set up and are mainly working on ‘producing pages,’ using auto layout as much as possible will save you a lot of time.

By the way, in the video below, we go into more detail about the above and how it works for UX projects in practice. Take a look!

The amount of auto layout to use

As you can see, using auto layout isn’t a matter of ‘yes or no,’ but rather ‘how much.’ It depends on how much creativity your project needs.

Here’s what to use. I’ve sorted this list by creativity needed. The first one requires little creativity and can be used in any project.


Using auto layout for buttons is an excellent place to start. Select a text layer and click ‘add auto layout from the right-click menu. You can then add a background color, stroke, and border radius (optional).

Purple button showing 'add auto layout' as a label

While you’re at it, create a component for this button, too. It’ll save you more time.

Input fields

There’s not much creativity in designing input fields, which means it is perfectly fine to use auto layout here.

In this case, only selecting the text layer (as we did with buttons) doesn’t work. That’s because input fields have variations, like password fields, dropdown menus, and regular text fields.

Instead, create a text layer and add an icon to the right. Select both and add the auto layout. You can also set the background color, stroke, and border radius here.

You can now drag and drop to rearrange the order of your input field. This is very useful when changing between a dropdown menu (icon to the right) and a search field (icon to the left).

An example of an input field created using auto layout


If you put together the input fields and a submit button from the list above, you can also use auto layout to save some time when designing forms.

The only challenge here is that designers usually have some creative decisions to make, like the number of questions per page or sections within a form.

This could mean a lot of custom work and iterations before you find the right form. In that case, auto layout may slow you down instead of speeding up your work.

When you do decide to go with auto layout, select your input fields and buttons, select ‘add auto layout,’ and set the margin between the fields. Done!

Header and footer

The final items on our auto layout list are the header and footer. Just as with the buttons, turning this into a component is a smart move, too. Here’s how auto layout would work for these two components.

You can usually use auto layout for the header to create equal spacing between the menu items. The outside padding is something you can set, too.

As for the footer, you usually have two or three columns where auto layout makes sense. Within each column, you can use a nested auto layout the same way as you use it to create forms. This helps with footer menus, for example.

Next steps

Whether or not you should use auto layout in Figma is a hot topic within the UX and product design community. I’ve always felt that this discussion gets too much attention. It is just a design tool.

Instead, only use auto layout as much as makes sense. In this article, you can read how that works.

As for next steps, I suggest working on your portfolio, where you can highlight your business results working as a designer and how Figma (and auto layout, perhaps) has helped you achieve those results.

Do you have feedback on this article? Missing something? Or just a question? Reach out to me and I’ll get back to you!

Profile picture of author Nick Groeneveld, a senior UX designer and mentor for The Designer's Toolbox

About the author

Hi! I'm , a senior designer from the Netherlands with experience in UX, visual design, and research. I'm a UX coach that supports other designers and have completed design projects in finance, tech, and the public sector.

Through The Designer's Toolbox, I'm an Educational Partner for Interaction Design Foundation.

☎️ Book a 1:1 mentor meeting with me or let's connect on LinkedIn, Twitter and Medium.