Design systems are not a ‘nice to have’ but foundational to succeeding in the new digital economy. With multiple brands, product lines, and a global customer base, today’s business leaders can't play guessing games with their digital experiences.
A design system is a “system of systems” with a set of operational processes that offer a library of visual style and components documented and released as reusable code for developers along with tools for designers. A design system also bakes in guidance on accessibility, page layout, editorial, branding, data visualization, UX patterns, and other user experience considerations.
A design system is not a singular entity but made of 6 separate pieces that include:
The foundational visual characteristics of your brand, as expressed in your digital products.
This includes typography, colors, icons, spacing and information architecture, and these are maintained as Design Tokens (pieces of Ul information) in code.
Version-controlled user interface components used to build products and experiences, implemented in code that lends itself to your organization's tech stack
A developer tool used to build components in isolation, without impacting the live products.
Developers also use the sandbox to document use cases, and to create structural and visual testing for QA. It can include a live playground for experimenting and testing in the browser.
Guidelines and information needed to use the design system. The documentation ensures that any new team members from any discipline can feel comfortable contributing to projects within the boundaries of the design system.
The processes that control updates, workflows, contribution and decision-making for the design system. The governance model is typically the foundation of a DesignOps practice for many companies.
Does it seem like everyone is talking about design systems? Well, it’s with good reason.
A design system is a set of tools, processes, guidelines and philosophies that combine to drive how a team designs a product.
A design system enables product teams to focus on customer problems instead of time-consuming specifications, duplication of effort, and long QA work. It saves time and money while enabling getting to market faster and with higher quality.
A design system helps:
Reduce lead time
Improve speed to market
Unify customer experience
Improve collaboration across teams and brands
Provide easier onboarding for new hires and vendors
Scale your ability to build on-brand market-leading products