“Design systems provide a convenient, centralized, and evolving map of a brand’s known product territories with directional pointers to help you explore new regions.” —Chris Messina, tech evangelist and former developer experience lead at Uber.
You will get many vague and ambiguous definitions of ‘Design Systems’ on the internet if you search for it.
What is a design system?
In simple terms, a design system could be a collection of reusable elements, components, patterns, or guidelines that are used to design, build and develop digital products.
A design system constantly changes with every product and latest tools. It grows and evolves with the product itself and emerging technologies.
Why are design systems crucial?
- Streamline Activities – As designers and developers handle a product from different streams of technologies, the chances of the occurrence of chaos are high. Maintaining a consistent design system helps everyone streamline their activities and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
- Improved User Experience – Design systems improve user experience as the patterns and components are proven and familiar for the consumers. It is a huge risk to introduce something new that doesn’t go along with the existing system.
- Workflow Efficiency – The design system makes it easier for the designers/developers to foresee, create and build new features into the existing product/system, thereby improving the workflow efficiency
- Faster Design Process – As everything is predefined and in place, it makes the design process faster and easier.
- Consistency – With a design system, developers can deliver a consistent user experience throughout the whole product journey.
Few Examples of Design Systems
Creating a design system is undeniably a painful and time-consuming process, but it is worth it! Thanks to the below listed great teams, who have made their design systems public for us to learn and practice.
Material is a design system created by Google to help teams build high-quality digital experiences for Android, iOS, Flutter, and the web.
Material design system allows to directly download design component source files for the most popular design software like Adobe XD, Sketch, Figma, etc. They also include Material studies, which show how components and themes can be used to create beautiful, usable apps.
Atlassian’s design system style can inspire other similar collaboration and management tools working, such as team collaboration, product management tools, project management tools, team chats, help desks, knowledge-bases.
The design system was made by Shopify. It provides knowledge and inspiration for using language, content in design, visual elements, and UI components to craft better product experiences for any eCommerce-related project.
Carbon design system by IBM is for you if you are working on enterprise systems or large-scale corporate products. You can use this as a guide for how to manipulate heavy data in elegant ways and present it through impressive visualizations and interfaces.
Human Interface Guidelines introduced by Apple give you access to various resources and tools such as design files, device mockups, and swift codes. It also provides you with reference guidelines for best practices and to bring your creative vision to life.
Nachos is Trello’s Design System. It is a comprehensive guide and resource library for designers at Trello, which includes core principles, visual design, interface components, branding, and other resources. This design system focuses mainly on consistency, alignment, and efficiency.
The primary goal of the Grommet design system by Hewlett-Packard is to improve the developers’ experience. Grommet is designed to make the design and development process agile and easier by baking in the expected stuff.
Do You Really Need a Design System?
Yes, that would be the obvious answer. While it need not be considered mandatory for every project, especially the quick ones, it is undoubtedly a ‘good to have.
Design systems do play an essential role in the design realm now, and companies that have them are reaping their benefits in terms of productivity hours and user satisfaction.
By the looks of it, we can undoubtedly say that the ‘Design Systems are here to stay!’