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Supercharge your design & development process

Many companies are using Design Systems to boost their design and development process. IBM, Google, Salesforce, Microsoft, Atlassian and so many more have their own Design Systems in place which allows them to build new features more efficiently. Let’s take a look at how a Design System can help your organization and allow your teams to come up with ideas more effectively.

What makes a Design System

It is easy to get confused between a component library and a Design System. While a component library is just a group of components, a Design System is much more than that. Components in a component library are not dependent on each other but can be used together.

A Design System not only consists of your design components but also has clear guidelines on how to make those components and why they are the way they are. It covers all the details on how a new component can be created and even the rules on how it will interact with other components.

Let’s explore few features of a Design System:

Modularity and scalability

Modularity is all about breaking down your design into small reusable pieces. While updating, the focus is not on the entire layout, but that small piece. For example, a site has a module for the primary button with blue color and no border-radius. Now in a new update, the primary button needs to be green with rounded corners. In a good modular design, once the primary button module is updated, the entire site will have the green button with rounded corners, if not the team will have to find buttons and update them on each page.

This modular approach also makes the design scalable. You have to focus your energy on the small piece which is easy to manage and roll back if something goes wrong or if the requirement changes.

Visual inventory

A major chunk of a Design System is the visual inventory or the component library. Some of the most common components you’ll find in a basic Design System are:

  • Colors
  • Typography (everything text)
  • Iconography
  • Spacing (things like padding and margin)
  • Motion
  • Visual form (things like shadow, rounded corners, texture etc.)

Centralized or Federated Model

In a centralized model, the Design System is maintained by a single team. Only that single team is responsible to make updates to the system when needed. It is good practice for small scale teams as it helps add accountability and makes sure that the Design System stays updated.

On the other hand, in a Federated model, the entire development team is responsible for the Design System. Any team member can update the components of the Design System when needed with a proper review process.

You can also use the combination of both models. It is one of the most common practices in organizations operating at a bigger scale, as putting all the responsibility on a single team can be confusing and inefficient.

The benefits of a Design System

A design system can immensely boost the productivity of an organization. The design and development teams can work with more clarity and reusable components, getting away the need to build things from scratch.

It is easier to scale any product which is using a Design System because of the consistent patterns and modular structure.

No matter what you build if you are using a Design System the end result will be consistent UI and UX.

Single source of truth
Someone new in the team or from a different team will be easily able to access the resources and assets. They will also have all the information on how to use a given asset to stay consistent with the brand guidelines.

Reduces friction
A good Design System can reduce a lot of friction throughout your design and development process. It acts as a bridge between design and development teams. All these factors will increase user experience and a consistent look and feel throughout the application or even different products under the same brand. Having a design system in place also means that you can prototype ideas with high efficiency.

Making smart decisions with a Design System

Being able to prototype ideas faster will not restrict the organizational resources to stick to just a hand full of ideas, instead, teams can work on multiple ideas and pick the best one. With a good design system in place, the components can be picked up and used to generate prototypes quickly. The team doesn’t have to worry about the design or creating new components from scratch. In fact, the prototypes will be very close to the final product.

The takeaway

A Design System isn’t a very complicated thing to put in place. It is more of an organized set of rules for the components you are already building. While building a Design System for the first time can be a little challenging and confusing, but it is worth the effort. You can start small by putting all the existing components in one place and gradually defining a design language and making updates as you go.

Want to start building your Organization’s Design System?

The Jozi Firecracker Factory are passionate about designing, building and implementing game-changing, collaborative Design Systems for Enterprise. If you’re looking to get started with building and implementing your own Design System, get in touch with our UX team to find out more about how having your own Design System can help drive efficiencies and innovation for your product teams.

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