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Why Are Design Systems Important?

Lately, there has been a lot of noise around Design Systems as several of our customers focus on them. It has been a huge topic for the last two years however, lots of companies are still debating whether it suits their purpose.

Why Design Systems?

Design systems offer scalability, efficiency and consistency. Think about a product that you have built for a long time. Many teams collaborate so there will be inconsistencies over time. As HubSpot explains when they did their audit they found many inconsistencies in their interface. As the development of the product happens between mobile and web, it causes more inconsistencies creating a disconnected user experience. Ouch! Design systems are here to solve this chaos. Design systems highlight 3 principles: 1) Efficiency which means to reuse the components that already exist 2) Consistency which means sharing a set of principles which will create consistent experiences across different platforms and 3) Scale to build the products faster.

When a business creates a design system, it needs to understand the need for a more organised system. The benefits of this organised system are the alignment between the departments, speed of building the products faster and saving time as it understands the customer’s needs and they do not have to reinvent the wheel.

To have a successful design system you need to:

  1. Build guidelines: Asking questions helps designers to understand the next business moves and create more meaningful components. Questions like what problem do we need to solve and how those decisions will guide us to the future.
  2. Communicate with other teams: Knowing whether other teams find the component valuable shows great communication and builds upon the discussion of having a more efficient system.
  3. Start with basics: Companies need to start with basics such as typography and colors and then move to discover other inconsistencies. After the audit and the investigation, teams can understand why this consistency exists and how to avoid it next time.
  4. Ensure developers and designers work together: To foster this partnership you need your developers and designers to be synchronized all the time.
  5. Provide a Single Source of Truth: Design systems must be accessible for all the teams as it will allow the whole company to access changes and updates, leading to better communication
  6. Carry out peer-to-peer reviews: It increases the awareness between the teams and helps designers to understand if the design system needs improvements.

Think before you decide!

Despite the trend, Design Systems are not a simple choice. Companies are facing many challenges whilst implementing their own system which is then tied in with the product. Like a living organism, a Design System is an integral part of the company, which needs to be adapted and developed according to product development cycles. It is vital for businesses to weigh up benefits and challenges, to understand the ROI of their own Design System.