What is a Design System?
To some, a design system can be as simple as a component library, a set of brand guideline, or a style guide. However, an effective design system is not simply a single library or guidelines. It is a set of sources of docs, tools, design, and principles to build a digital product, a toolset that different teams can align themselves with. A design system can help your teams create UI and UX consistency and help reduce the inefficient processes and avoid unnecessary work. You might have noticed your design and product team are continually updating your product and recreating the same button for every update, or they are struggling with finding the exact color code used before. If so, that means your team needs a design system.
What does a Design System include?
Values and Design principles
Before you establish your design system, you'll need to make sure that your teams are aligned, as team alignment can determine the result of your design system adoption. All teams, including design, product, marketing, and sales, should have clear and aligned goals and values with the product so that everyone understands the objectives.
It is crucial to clearly identify and understand what has been designed and why UX and UI are designed in certain ways. So, you document these clear design principles and purposes to provide the right direction for the team, and they will understand what they are creating.
Components are often called blocks or groups of elements. A component library outlines reusable UI elements including grid systems, navigations, input fields, checkboxes, buttons, and CTAs. It is important to create a set of components with similar functionality, built based on specific functionality or behavior. Using components increases productivity of designers and developers as it removes repetitive (and unnecessary) work.
Patterns are more complex solutions using components from the library. They include design patterns and product building instructions with groups of components. When you build patterns, you focus on solving design problems and business cases. Also, patterns need to be documented in the design system to provide clear guidelines for the product team.
Brand Identity and Language
Brand identity usually defines overall visual and verbal styles, including logos, colors, typography, icons, illustrations, photography, and language(wording, tone of voice). You create documents with all these guidelines and rules (how the team uses the right collaboration of the elements). It will help your teams maintain brand and visual design consistency.
Documentation is another crucial part of a design system as it includes all the above-mentioned elements. Documentation explains how design system components work, design principles, use cases for style guides, best practices, etc. It helps the entire team understand and use the design system correctly.
Benefits of Design System
The main benefit of a design system is increasing efficiency. Every team can access the same guidelines and assets with aligned goals. So the design team and product team don’t have to make an effort to create repetitive work. It saves time, energy, and cost, and each team can focus on more complex problems. That reduces the cost of the product development process.
A design system provides consistency. It helps teams use consistent components, design patterns, languages, and all other elements throughout brand materials and product experiences.
Using a design system also helps to deliver a more positive and coherent user experience. UX and UI consistency helps to reduce cognitive load for users and helps them predict your product behaviors.
Creating a design system is not easy and it requires lots of work. Before jumping into the design system, you need to define what the biggest problems are in your organization and how the design system can provide solutions. Keep in mind that design systems are not the same for each organization. Your objectives, values, and design principles will be driving force behind your design system.
When you are ready to build a design system, Tacpoint specialists are ready to help.