Why do I need a design system?

The reason for introducing a design system is not so people can work less—It’s so people can work better. Here’s some of the problems design systems solve.
CEO of Rangle.io, Nick Van Weerdenburg and Chief Design System Architect, Varun Vachar share exactly what you need to scale your design system

What can a design system do to generate product and experience growth?

  • Reduce design and development costs, and improve time-to-market for brand-approved customer experiences
  • Build consistent, branded experiences across all regions and touchpoints
  • Centralize workflow, keeping all teams aligned to create digital experiences for their customer segments

What problems do design systems solve for organizations?

The duplicated effort problem

Let’s consider the cost of building a simple button: A designer, engineer and quality analyst will design, build and test the component. If each of these people cost roughly $100/hr, and it takes two one-week sprint cycles to deliver a button (including all functionality, accessibility and brand standards) buttons cost upwards of $24,000 to create.
Multiple teams each making buttons from scratch will cost your company upwards of half a million dollars over the course of your site development. More complicated components like hamburger menus, modals and data tables can cost even more.

The process problem

The top six problems teams encounter without a design system:
Developers become blocked as designs inevitably change
Product design becomes inconsistent across teams or over time
Product maintenance becomes unsustainable
Breakdown of shared context between disciplines results in poor product decisions
Time is wasted re-solving the same problems
There is no documented source of truth

The handoff problem

The waterfall approach looks something like this: 1. A product request is submitted, page designs get created. 2. Guidelines and interaction guides are created and documented, then passed to development to interpret. 3. Inevitably, something changes. Chaos ensues. Waterfall comes with heaps of design and technical debt. There really is a better way.

How do I optimize a design system?

Already have a design system? It’s only successful if your teams understand the context in which it’s used. To build and optimize for your organization, it’s important to understand the problems you need to solve. The questions to ask before you begin optimizations:

Company goals

  • What efficiencies are you trying to gain?
  • What pain points do your designers and developers have today?

Scale

  • How large is your organization?
  • How many teams do you expect to consume the system?

Organizational structure

  • Are your team members co-located?
  • How do designers and developers collaborate?

Product complexity

  • How many products, brands, and regions do you support? How do they differ?
  • How are applications built? Is there a CMS?

Further reading about optimization

Coming together on design system decisions can bridge the gaps and break down silos
As your team scales, sharing information and context can get complex

Did you know?

Rangle is partnered with Invision, enabling design systems that scale with your company growth. You’re ready for DesignOps. We can help.