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Today, products, especially digital ones, need to be developed quickly and be ready to scale up without unnecessary delays. That’s why today, many digital products are cross-platform solutions. There is one more way, though, to streamline the development of digital products, and that’s possible thanks to design systems. What do you need to know about them?
Many years ago, product and software developers realised that there are some repeatable components that can be used for the same purpose. For example, the on/off button plays the same role whether it’s in a laptop, a TV, or a vacuum cleaner. Therefore, we can say that there is a specific pattern that each on/off button follows. That’s how we get to so-called pattern libraries that enable companies and developers to ensure the consistency of their products and lower production costs.
Design systems benefit from such libraries. They are used to set some repeatable standards that can be applied to every product your company develops.
Why do you need a design system?
First off, thanks to a design system, you maintain consistency, primarily when it comes to the code, design and brand identity. Secondly, a design system introduces standardisation to your company, and that helps you save time because of the quicker development. And finally, with a design system, diverse departments and teams in your organisation can work more effectively together. There are no delays or errors in the design because everyone follows the same rules.
However, to make the most of a design system, you have to ensure two things:
- The system itself has to be fully implemented, and your entire team must know how to work with it.
- The design system has to be updated from time to time so that it’s always useful.
What do design systems comprise?
That depends on your business profile and requirements. Sometimes, the design system needs to be developed from scratch. In other situations, it can be adapted based on what other companies have created.
Typically, a design system is made of:
- A content style guide: it comprises brand voice and tone and indicates what should be communicated and how.
- A design style guide: how your products should look, what they should do and how.
- A component library: it’s made of components that need to be used in the code to create a functional and coherent product that works well on every device.
- A UI pattern library: it’s made of patterns that should be used in order to develop a product that has an easy-to-use dashboard and is accessible.
Challenges along the way
In order to create a well-thought-out design system, you need to overcome some common challenges. It all starts with a strategy that outlines company needs and goals. The design system is not something you can copy-paste – it needs to be tailored to a specific company. Moreover, every design system needs to be continually developed – the market evolves, and so should your design. The last element that you need to consider is training. Every person involved in product/web/mobile design or development should be familiar with your design system and understand how to use it.
Create a design system for your company
Be in no doubt, though. Creating a design system is worth the effort. This way, you can benefit from true common understanding in your company. With it, designers and developers can seamlessly work together and achieve a goal that ticks all of your company’s boxes.
Do you want to know more about design systems? Take a look at the full version of this article: Intro to design systems