You need a design system and you need it now

Yes, you’ve read it right — but naturally, you shouldn’t take our word for it. Read on to learn just how your company can benefit from a defined design system.

Reading Time7 minutes

Stop me if this sounds familiar: 

  • your new employer published an image that doesn't follow your company’s style
  • your Lead Developer is holding a talk at the Shift conference, and…using the default Google Slides template
  • designers are reinventing the wheel on every project, starting from the ground up

You really need a design system.

What’s that?

A design system is a collection of reusable components and patterns guided by clear standards that can be used to create a consistent experience across a range of products. Design systems represent a single source of truth for an entire organization - by using a singular design language to guide the development of products.

At their core, design systems provide consistent styling and interaction guidelines for teams. For example, a design system might have typography rules that specify font size, weights, and styles for headings and body text, color pallets that define a set of colors to be used across the product, spacing guidelines that dictate how much space should be placed between elements, and iconography that outlines the specific icons to be used and how they should be styled.

Additionally, a design system might include components like buttons, forms, and cards that can be reused throughout the product, ensuring efficiency and consistency in the design process. By establishing a shared language and visual vocabulary, design systems can help teams work more collaboratively and effectively, while also ensuring that the end product is cohesive and visually appealing.

It starts with company branding 

Different departments in the company, if not provided with a style guide, will use different elements. Different patterns responsible for the same action confuse users, and in the end, the whole company loses their trust. At scale, the problem of inconsistency is too painful and expensive to ignore.

Many companies advocate for a design system. Some great examples are

Even whole countries have recognized the benefits of design systems, such as the UK, and New South Wales (a state in Australia). 

Design systems increase productivity 

If you are designing new pages from the ground up every time, you are burning money. DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) is one of the core issues you might have if you are missing a design system. A set of predefined components can give you a great push when building large-scale effective multi-platform user experiences.

Instead of focusing on what border goes on a specific CTA button, designers can focus on the bigger picture – how the user interacts with their page. 

Less pixel pushing, more experimentation, and innovation. 

Design systems offer scalability 

With great methodology like atomic design - you can build compensable components and then produce large-scale apps with minimum effort. If you are adding new features to your product, it will be easier to add new pages that will scale the product easier.

Implementing a design system can reduce development debt since designers won’t spend time creating new similar, but inconsistent components every time, reusing a set of predefined components.

A style guide is focused on the look and feel of written and visual communications, while a design system is a holistic approach to designing and building digital products. Style guides released in recent years are a step in the right direction, but with the concept of a design system or design language, you will epically affect how the product team approaches design as a whole. 

With a solid, consistent, well-thought-out and explained system, the visual point becomes fully modular, sort of like lego puzzles.

Design systems make onboarding easier

Design systems are a good starting point for any team member either building a new product or adding features to an existing one. But they are not used only by designers: the whole company benefits from the design system.

From the marketing team using it to be consistent in social media posts, the HR team having the same style of job posts to sales representatives having the same style for presentation and proposals…you get the point.

You might not need a design system…

If you are a small team and you have a small project, it is probably not necessary to have a design system right away. Focus more on building that product and value propositions. But for teams that have a digital product that is about to scale, a design system is a must. There is a great calculator that can give you a rough estimate of the savings you can have with implementing a design system: you can check it out here.

Wrapping up

A design system is a living organism that evolves as an integral part of the company. It adapts to the fast development cycles of product development and scales efficiently if built with care. It becomes of huge importance for companies to weigh the benefits and challenges, to understand the return on investment of implementing their own design system. 

Hey, you! What do you think?

They say knowledge has power only if you pass it on - we hope our blog post gave you valuable insight.

If you want to share your opinion or you are in need of custom software or a digital product design, feel free to contact us

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