Our Thoughts
Suchismita Ghosh
Design Writer
14 February, 2022 5 MIN READ

The ROI of Design Systems

A growing digital ecosystem has led brands to look for improved ways in building the trust of their users. Design systems enable this by helping to build easy-to-scale design patterns and components that ensure both quality and consistency across experiences while leading to increased speed and productivity for designers. A design system works as a well-documented, interconnected, and accessible set of components that are used by designers and developers within the organisation.

Many companies such as Uber, Airbnb, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Shopify, and IBM have revolutionised the design of their digital products by incorporating their unique design systems.

A design system consists of a set of reusable components that can be assembled together for creating any number of applications. While most organisations consider design systems to be a style guide and pattern library, the truth is that a design system consists of much more than just these components. A design system helps with an appropriate, concentrated, and developing map of a brand’s existent products while providing pointers to explore newer regions. It handles all the common interface patterns being used across an organisation and brings a brand together.

While all this might sound great from an experience standpoint, to get it right requires consequential time, investment, expertise, and iteration. How does one justify this investment and measure its success, once implemented? By calculating the value of its ROI (Return on Investment). Design leaders need to measure the ROI of a design system to be able to read into its scalability, efficiency, and consistency.

Understanding ROI in terms of Design Systems

ROI is a performance measuring financial that aids in analysing the efficiency of an investment. For a design system, these can include an increased productivity rate, better customer experience, and faster workflow. It will help in understanding the primary goals of every business, i.e. - increasing revenue and decreasing expenses. Also, the ROI of design systems as an investment for the future of teams and products will give an idea of how a brand will stand the test of an ever-growing digital market.
 

How to measure the ROI of Design Systems

Design systems are primarily used by brands to improve the overall user experience and to ensure internal design and development teams have a more efficient, smooth, and increased workflow. To generate successful results post the implementation of a design system, the following metrics will have to be accounted for -

Increased efficiency/productivity - If implemented well, a design system has the capacity to increase a brand’s efficiency and efficacy by around 25%, with increased returns over a period of time, as the system continues to mature. This is done through better product development, which in turn ensures proper delivery of customer needs.

Faster workflow - Businesses are always looking for ways to speed up internal processes without hampering the quality and experience of services. A well-implemented design system will provide the convenience of faster workflow and reduced errors.

Better customer experience - A good design system will ensure money and time is saved by businesses while providing consumers with a consistent customer experience. In order to provide customers with a cohesive experience, brands need to have the ability to scale features and product offerings to ensure high yielding growth along with product variation. Companies without design systems usually put together contrasting design stacks to ensure the delivery of newer experiences as quickly as possible. This leads to fragmented experiences and causes usability friction between two or more products.

Selecting the correct ROI for Design Systems

Most businesses consider the ROI based on a few KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). In the case of a design system, the KPIs for measuring progress and for looking into the general progress of a design system, i.e. - CSS classes count, imports in-app codes, and component names. A greater count indicates better progress.

Coverage - The more a design system covers, the lesser custom CSS per feature is required. Also, comparing newer features with older ones gives an idea of the effect the system has had over a particular time frame. When the system ends up covering adequate engineering tasks and UI design, the CSS growth rate starts to slow down over time since newer features require lesser code and ad-hoc design.

Adoption - The greater the number of developers and designers who stick to the standards, the lesser will be the ad-hoc code necessary for a particular feature. In this case, a lower count of specific CSS properties will be considered better.

Shared ownership - When developers are able to contribute to a design system, they are more likely to utilise the design system. Considering the unique contributors provides a clearer idea as to the extent of shared ownership within the organisation. Also, the more often designers request changes and additions within the system, the greater will be the sense of shared ownership within the design team. Counting the number of changes in the design system gives a good idea of this. The greater the number, the better it is.

 

Conclusion

A design system when introduced in a company doesn’t simply reduce the workload of teams but ensures teams work better. Investing in a design system will yield greater ROI over time. A successful design system will ensure the delivery of scalable, cohesive features in ways that make it efficient for both designs as well as development. It helps teams to focus on important work while avoiding repetitive work. Design systems help with an improved CX while saving money and time being spent.

A well-crafted design system acts as an extensive tool that is the key factor in the hyper-evolving digital ecosystem. It ensures a consistent brand image, a delightful and predictable user experience coupled with collaboration among internal teams demand to drive long-term growth for the brand.

If you’re looking to launch your very own design system and understand the ROI on your investment, then get in touch with our team of designers and brand builders who can help to scale your brand’s experience to greater heights.

 

Suchismita Ghosh