Design systems – love or loathe them; they occupy an important space in UX design. This blog post explores the advantages of design systems and how they can save you time and effort in your UX projects.
When it comes to building digital products, a design system is an essential tool for success. A design system is a repository for all design elements. It stores all design information such as styles, components and examples of interactions. Think of it as a collection of all design elements that you can choose or edit.
Ultimately, you’ll have all the tools and guidelines you need to bring your design to life. And if that sounds good, what is even better, is that a design system is kept in one central place, meaning that all designers working on a project can access it. When it comes to a design system, it is a one-stop shop, so there will be no need to visit multiple places. The design system will lay out the rules and standards for the design so all of the designers who are involved will be on the same page.
Design systems can serve as a set of instructions, giving structure and consistency to a design to ensure that the end product matches the initial exploration and intent. This means that when it comes to development, there are fewer surprises because everyone knows what they need to deliver.
A design system brings clarity
When you have all of your design elements in one place, it becomes much easier to keep track of changes and updates. This is because you only need to update one file rather than updating each element separately. Although to ensure that the design system is effective, it needs to be managed and updated so that it is easy to use.
Having clarity during a project ensures that everyone knows what they need to do and only edit within the design system guidelines or rules. This is essential for maintaining an organised design system. If there are no set guidelines, chances are that each team member will be working on something different, meaning that tasks will start to overlap and things will get complicated very quickly.
A design system provides clear instructions on how the design should look and function, giving everyone a common goal to work towards. This means there is a lower risk of discrepancies. This applies to everyone who updates the design system and what changes they can make. Clarity and consistency are essential for maintaining a design system correctly.
Design systems build trust
Not only should design systems be clear and consistent, but they should also be inclusive. This is important as an inclusive design system is more likely to become fully integrated into the company culture. For a design system to be inclusive, it should be accessible to everyone who needs to use it. This means that the system should be designed to be easy to understand and follow. The language used should be clear, concise with set rules and guidelines. If the system is not inclusive, then it is likely that only a small number of people will actually use it, which defeats the purpose of having a design system in the first place. When design systems are created in a way that is accessible and inclusive, you can reduce barriers to engagement and encourage trust between project stakeholders.
Design systems are collaborative by nature, and this is great for building trust as it creates a feeling of shared ownership. Designers can collaborate and contribute to the design system. To ensure a design system is a success, it is essential to avoid any elements of gatekeeping that could risk that sense of shared ownership being compromised.
A design system should be a living document that is constantly evolving. This means that it should be open to change and improvement. To ensure that the design system is being used and improved, feedback should be encouraged from everyone who uses it. Encouraging feedback shows that you are willing to listen to others. It is important to allow everybody to suggest changes and potentially improve the design.
Design systems are adaptable
Design systems are adaptable and can be tailored depending on your goals. There is never any need to feel overwhelmed by complex design systems that prevent access and stop you from taking the first steps in creating a design system of your own. Design systems vary in size and maturity level, meaning that you can align the design system to the needs of your project.
Design systems can also be tailored to suit the size of your organisation. Design systems for large organisations can be quite extensive and detailed. It is important to remember that they are developed in time, and through the addition of extensions, they can often end up being incredibly complex. They do not, however, always need to be this complex; you can always make them modular and explore some of the micro design systems that exist in an overall design system to make them more manageable and adaptable.
Having a design system that can grow alongside your organisation is essential. The adaptability of design systems means that they are versatile and can change to meet the growing needs of your organisation. This is one of many exciting elements of working on an evolving product such as a design system – it has endless possibilities for future growth!
Design systems are at the core of good and concise design, with many functional and management advantages. Regardless of your project or organisation’s needs, you can adapt your design system to positively impact your product and team, making them an essential tool for delivering effective and accurate design. So, when managing your next project, why not use a design system to help provide the framework that will see you on the right path to success?
Still need some inspiration? Here are some great design systems to get you on the right track: