Brands all across the globe have started their transformation into the digital world. With that, the evolution of user experience has been faster than ever. Design is one of the key members to the success of any product. However, with the growth of the numbers of consumers, the pressure on designers is growing too. Companies would either have to hire more people or increase the workload. This is an inefficient way to deal with the speed and scale of development. A one-stop solution to such problems is creating a Design System. What is this resource and how does it act as a solution? Let’s find out.
What is a Design System?
A design system is a collection of reusable functional elements guided by standards and rules. Product teams refer to it to create a consistent experience across the whole brand. Design systems maintain the visual and functional elements of your organisation in one place. It contains a component library for designers, ready to use UI elements in code for developers and brand values and principles. Its primary purpose is to increase efficiency in product development. A consistent design language makes it easier to design products at scale that are consistent in aesthetics, user interface, and user experience.
An easier way to put this would be, if you have a company with many teams that are working for different services, then a design system would act as a handbook every team refers to bring in a unified design.
Breaking down a Design System
A huge part of creating a Design System is to create a design language that will be consistent throughout the brand. Colours, typography, imagery and sizing/spacing are the pillars of any design language. Building an inventory with the mentioned pillars is the best way to start building a design system. Let us look into the details.
If you have an existing logo, you can base your design language to either complement or bring out your logo. A logo is the most important element of your brand as it acts as a pointer to identify your brand.
The main theme of your website or application depends on this. For this, you will need to pick out primary, secondary and tertiary colours and some accent colours. Primary colours for the backgrounds, secondary for the borders, lines or dividers and finally tertiary for subheadings and supporting body.
Typography and Type Scale
The font you choose for your website or app will make a huge difference. There is also a hierarchy in the scale. Starting with the titles and heading and ending at the body of the content, the scale varies proportionally. Keep the number of fonts to the minimum to keep it uniform.
Icons all over your website or app need to be uniform and follow a similar style. There are always free icon packs available online. They come with a wide range of icons needed for websites and applications.
Buttons and Its Features
Buttons are a vital part of your website. They are elements that your users interact with the most on your website. They should be easily identifiable and easy to understand. Do not underestimate the importance of the shadows and border-radius. If your buttons are not rounder in the least and do not have a shadow, then it will look flat and serious. Whereas it can look a lot friendlier when its edges are rounded. The shadow makes it stand out from the background and makes it distinguishable.
The Next Step
Once you are done with creating your design language, your next step is to leap into the UI library. Collect every element of your website or application, and by that, we mean every button, form or images. Creating this will allow for these components to be reused whenever needed. The final and important step is documentation. UI Library and design language alone can not create a design system. Documentation and standards added with the elements aforementioned are what creates a true design system. Remember that design systems are not a static element, they are ever-changing and evolving with time. It needs constant maintenance.
Looking for an example? We have got you covered.
One of the more popular design systems today, Polaris by Shopify is known for its integration of designer-developer workflow. Shopify is an e-commerce company that acts as a platform for online stores and merchants. Their main purpose was to create a unified store design. Their design system consists of sections not only for design, components and patterns but also for content, copywriting, grammar and even guidelines for the tone of voice.
The best part about design systems is that most of them are open to public use. There are websites such as Adele and Design Systems Repo that have categorised them into catalogues.
How does a design system affect your company?
- Saves time and money: A good design system is reusable, flexible and well-documented. Creating patterns, components and graphic design assets can help to make it reusable. It should allow for visual components to be dragged and dropped right into a prototype in the making, saving time and manpower required. It helps the company become more efficient and cost-effective.
- Easier Collaborations and Sync: Design system become a common point for every team in a company, whether it is for communications, design, or coding. Any changes can be synced to all the teams effectively.
- Management: Roles and permissions can provide the opportunity to choose who can view or edit each library within a system.
- Consistency and Scale: Keeping a set of standards and a common library will make sure that all of your products will look consistent, no matter the scale.
The benefits of a design system do not just end there. It allows you to get a total understanding of where the inconsistencies lie. It also allows you to analyse and narrow down your scope to the most consistently used elements for your products. If you have a mobile application and website serving the same purpose, then using a design system will make the user experience similar and consistent in both platforms.
Creating a Design System is not an easy task. It is time-consuming and a lot of hard work. But once put together it will only evolve and help your company evolve in many ways. And that is why your company needs a design system.