Why do Companies Need a Design System?
A design system is a collection of rules, constraints, principles and repeatable components that help to create a company’s process to design and build digital products. It is imperative to protect a brand, elevate its end-user experience, align teams and increase the speed of the product development.
When teams come together to work on different parts of the digital product, inconsistencies in aesthetics and usability become unavoidable over time. A design system aims to solve these problems, that is why some of the biggest brands use design systems for a more efficient design and development process. These include Airbnb, IBM, Google, Shopify, UBER, Salesforce, WeWork, Mailchimp, and even Apple.
A design system is how a product and the company is viewed for years to come. Documentation, as detailed as a design system, braces the values of the company. In this blog post, we will be getting into the details of how a document as detailed and systematic as the design system governs "Team Efficiency, Design Scalability and End-User Experience".
Design systems are mainly useful when a team of people or different teams work on the same product. The process of building products requires teamwork and teams from different practices. A design system makes a designer-developer collaboration seamless and makes it easy to build the product without often reaching out to each other.
The old saying, "too many cooks spoil the broth" may be applied here. As for an example, every member working on the project has their preferences, varied ways of working and different approaches, which makes the process complicated especially when the projects are big and there are more chances for things to go wrong. In short, it gets messy, without a similar language, a structure, accountability and the building blocks of the design system.
Empathy and optimism as a core, human-centred design systems put the needs of people at the centre of the most complex challenges.
A successful design system liberates teams from recreating. It allows focus on learning and improving digital products to meet user and business goals but creating the most efficient design system doesn't solve the purpose until it is not actively promoted within the company. From planning to execution and release, the priority should also be to foster the design system's adoption in a community of users who believe in working together on the same principles for achieving the same goal.
It's no secret that design is difficult to scale. An efficient design team is not a result of team expansion and hirings. It comes with putting standards in place. As an example, each new hire comes a new set of thoughts, new ideas, new types, new color palettes and different ways of working. More often than usual this leads to unintended duplication of work, haywire tone and voice, negative competitiveness and overall employee dissatisfaction which proceeds inconsistency and result in design entropy.
The solution to this chaos is the design system. A systematic growth in the design system leads to efficiency and consistency in the design process. It also saves time, that is consumed by lengthy meetings and verbal explanations which eventually increases the overall speed in deliveries and product development.
A design system efficiently combines the individual creativity with the company's design standards, and ask any new hire, without a design system, it's not easy.
The onboarding processes, and introduction to the company's values and mission can only do so little without an introduction to a scaled set of design standards. So, design does scale but it scales with a design system.
User experience is the prime focus of every product, It's not optional and can't solely be successful based on business expertise, code and design, though the design process is the differentiator here, user experience is also influenced by many invisible factors.
A Design system helps to enhance the end-user experience by giving access to transparent resources with shared design language and guidelines that empower teams to collaborate cohesively and make better design decisions. It also fosters a sense of inclusivity and empathy across teams where roles are given less importance and no point-of-view is weighted heavier than another. These shared experiences and a cohesive work environment encourages team members to focus on the purpose of design, a better understanding of the users and a natural empathetic approach to design that irrevocably translates to a consistent user experience and happy users.
The challenges associated with inconsistencies and chaos are faced by many companies. The consequences of these challenges come with an associated cost, which is amplified according to the sheer scale of an organization. Design systems save the cost in a long run by shipping in a seamless project without much hustle. They become the spine of any company which aims to iteratively work on a product over time. It is absolutely relevant documentation for team efficiency, scaling design and user experience because it enables collaboration on shared principles creating a cohesive work culture while also encouraging flexible systems to evolve logically over time by developing, reviewing, and improving the sources within the design system.
When developing a design system, it needs to be unbiased towards the use of different technology tools to solve different problems and a reflection of the company's design language. It impacts community and collaboration and how we work together to create digital user experiences that shape the planet.