Why a design system

Written by Maxime

May 1, 2024

As products and/or teams grow, design and code become more difficult to maintain and processes become more challenging to manage. If you don’t have a standardized workflow, updating and building new pages can be very time-consuming and collaboration becomes difficult.

You start to have inconsistencies across products and a lack of unified assets leading to update issues. Knowledge gaps between product teams start to grow.

To solve this issue you need to consolidate rules, assets, and workflows between team members. You need a clear, solid and centralized documentation accessible by anyone. You need a Design System.

A design system unites product teams around a common visual language. It acts as a living system of guidelines and a source of truth, including rules about how to use, design and code design assets. It encourage re-use of code and reduce redundancy to a minimum.

Main benefits

  • Product consistency
  • Better product value
  • Shared language
  • One source of truth
  • Team efficiency
  • Happier team & customer
  • Faster onboarding for every new hire
  • Streamlined workflow between team members

“A design system offers a library of visual style, components, and other concerns documented and released by an individual, team or community as code and design tools so that adopting products can be more efficient and cohesive.” Nathan Curtis

Shared language

To create a consistent design system you need a shared language. Since you are working in a team that might grow, you have to make sure that the shared knowledge is understandable by anyone. Naming your elements is crucial when starting collaborating within your team. Personifying elements can also be a fun way to work and a good way to memorize UI elements. Good names communicate the purpose.

Team Collaboration

Once you have released the first version of your design system, it is crucial to define some rules and responsabilities, but still allow everyone to contribute to the project. It’s a collaborative project where the entire team should be constantly involved.

The design system team is a dedicated team who is responsible for managing and documenting the design system. It give a set of rules and tools to let the team work in a safe environment without limitating their creativity. Every team member should feel involved into scaling and improving the design experience. Don’t hesitate to initiate workshops to teach your teammates and glue the team around the new defined design language. This might be the hardest part, but your task is to make everyone feel involved and make the learning phase funny and enjoyable.

I wish you a nice journey into creating your unique design system ;)

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