A design system is basically a collection of reusable design components that follows a standard. These elements are integrated to build applications. Most businesses are trying to create their own design system but despite their efforts, very few attempts manage to bear fruit.
There are various reasons for this. Some of them are:
- Lack of support from the organization
- Poor communication
- Financial constraints
- Scalability issues
Then there are the misconceptions that prevent businesses from building their own design systems or adopting an existing design system. Two of the biggest misconceptions about design system is that:
- It is only useful for industry leaders as it allows them to streamline their processes
- It only delivers value to designers
Design system is not just about designers, it can transform the way your entire organization builds products. Even a small or midsize business can benefit from design systems. With misconception out of the way, you might be interested in implementing the design system. You might be wondering which factor should I consider when implementing a design system?
In this article, you will learn about five critical things you need to focus on before implementing a design system.
1. Assess Company Maturity
Creating a design system from scratch might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is not only time-consuming, but it is not the right fit for agile teams. When you are creating a design system, your company might have to divert resources away from product development towards design system creation, which could negatively impact your day to day business operations. That is why it is important for businesses to conduct a feasibility study that tells them whether they should go ahead and create their own design system or drop this idea. Same as you would do before taking important business decisions such as buying an ark dedicated server.
A mature company with a polished product can minimize the impact and prevent their day to operations from getting disturbed. Another important question you need to ask yourself is why do you want to create a design system? Every company might answer this question differently. They might want to accelerate the design process or minimize the technicalities involved in the design.
2. Clear Vision Statement
Just like your business, you need to have a vision for your design system as well. Your vision statement should answer the following questions:
- Where are we heading?
- What goals do we want to achieve?
- Why do we want to achieve those goals?
Create a shared vision that can give direction to your team members while laying the groundwork for your design system. This allows them to design solutions based on product problems. With a clear set of goals and vision in front of them, it is easier for you to align your team around the shared vision. It also brings all the stakeholders involved in product development on the same page and unites them to achieve a common goal.
If you are struggling to come up with a vision statement, ask yourself where you want to see your business in the next five to ten years. This will make it easy for you to focus on a target and create a strategy to achieve that target.
3. Core Team
Just like the vision, creating a design system should be a shared responsibility. Consider it as a team sport. You will have to combine the creative energy, expertise, and knowledge with the cross-functional collaboration to pull off this feat. Your core team should consist of 5-10 people and should include individuals from every discipline such as product managers, designers, and engineers. Including too many people in your core team can hamper the progress of design system development and lead to more delays. The fewer the core team members, the quicker you will be able to build the design system.
4. Lay the Foundation with Design Principles
Design is quite subjective which means that it is hard to define the good design and evaluate the quality of design. To get over these issues, most designers tend to follow standards. Unfortunately, this can mess up your product design processes as most designers differ when it comes to ideas, opinions, and perspectives. The best way to eliminate this confusion is to use design principles.
If you lay the foundation of your design system on design principles, you can easily capture the core of good design and offer great design recommendations to product teams. Here are some of the things you need to keep in mind when using design principles.
- Design principle should be rules
- Design principles should represent your product
- Design principles should be laid down after extensive open-ended discussions
5. Analyze Your Technology Stack and Interface Inventory
When you are about to create a design system, you have two options.
- Building a design over the existing interface
- Start creating a design system from scratch
If you are choosing the first option, you are more likely to bump into issues such as inconsistent design. Moreover, it prevents duplication of design elements and saves designers from creating the same thing again and again. To know which elements are currently in use, you need to conduct an interface inventory audit.
For this, you will first have to explore how users interact with your designs then collect all the user interface elements and review them. By doing this, you will identify design areas your organization needs to pay more attention to and the reasons behind inconsistency in designs. This allows you to polish your designs by eliminating deficiencies.
Have you implemented a design system in your company? If yes, how? Share it with us in the comments section below.