The design system of a company includes various approaches, principles, and convictions regarding the development of its products and services.
The implementation of a design system facilitates the quick and efficient creation, construction, and evaluation of new user experiences by product teams. This system also ensures that all customers receive a uniform visual experience and enhances the productivity, excellence, and agility of product teams. Moreover, it enables product teams to convey the values and culture of the company in every interaction with its users. By providing a solid groundwork, this system empowers product teams to actualize their designs and present them to customers.
The incorporation of a design system establishes an organized framework that enhances productivity throughout the product development team. Despite its name, the system actually fosters cooperation among all stakeholders involved in product development, such as Product Management, Marketing, Quality Assurance, Engineering/Development and any other relevant departments.
A comprehensive design system is composed of six essential elements, namely Design Language, Component Library, Documentation, Design Kits, Development Sandbox, and Governance Model.
Initially, let us briefly examine how each component blends together:
The foundation of a design system is its design language, which aims to harmonize the visual appearance of every design element of an organization, including its website, internal software, and retail products. Typography, color palette, shapes, motion, and iconography are among the various components that constitute a design language, generally manifested through a tokenization scheme that formalizes and standardizes the design choices of the organization. By accomplishing this, organizations can promptly introduce new products and services while offering customers a coherent, user-friendly, and enjoyable experience.
A Collection of Components
The component library is an indispensable aspect of any design system, facilitating the development of new products and user experiences. It covers an extensive spectrum of functionalities, including buttons, text fields, drop-down menus, navigation, and more. Pre-built components are beneficial for Design, Dev/Ops, and Q/A teams as they can be promptly duplicated and expanded to form a new design experience, saving time and efforts.
As a result, they can concentrate on achieving the primary objectives of the product, rather than replicating trivial components. To keep up-to-date with the evolving needs of product teams and new products and experiences, the component library embedded in the standard design system is regularly revised and upgraded.
The documentation of a design system is a comprehensive guide that encompasses instructions for producing uniform, premium-quality designs on a large scale. Whenever there are modifications made to the experience creation process, the documentation is updated to reflect these changes. It is crucial to document the design system to ensure that all personnel in the organization are knowledgeable about its objectives and how it should be implemented.
Each component has a dedicated page in the documentation containing comprehensive details on its purpose, available versions, recommended and restricted applications, accessibility features, and interconnected components. Moreover, it includes an overview of the design system’s overall objective, implementation procedures, and code structure. Release notes for new version upgrades and a communication infrastructure for teams utilizing the design system are also encompassed.
Design kits are instrumental in implementing a design language in practice. These UI libraries are typically housed within a design program, such as Figma, Sketch, or InVision and are designed to suit specific products or experiences. The component library functions as a code depository, containing all the style elements, symbols, visual components, and UX design patterns for the product or design. By utilizing design kits, consistency can be established across the developer sandbox, code repository, and component library.
The Developer Sandbox is a vital element in the Design System’s critical toolset as it offers a secure space for Developers/Engineers to experiment and enhance their new concepts and processes, including constructing and executing structural, visual, and accessibility examinations. In order to achieve a streamlined workflow with minimal modifications, the Developer Sandbox allows Developers/Engineers to annotate their planned applications for components, patterns, and entire page structures and share remarks on execution specifics. Furthermore, the Developer Sandbox stores the source code of the library.
The essential management structure of a design system is its governance model, which can be likened to a ‘how-to’ manual, occasionally derived from a company’s existing conventions. The governance model strives to enhance and expand the design system by regulating its workflow, from conception to implementation, by designing regulations for access, versioning protocols, updates, procedures, and onboarding protocols for new personnel.
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