Is it possible to identify the demonstrable value of owning a Design System? We can’t start this debate until we debunk some industry rumours and misstatements. To begin with, let’s answer the question of what a Design System is, and (perhaps more importantly) what it is not. We will encounter a phenomenon where many definitions of the term and its understanding are based mainly on its products (e.g., components). However, the definition should be much broader.
Author: Michał Łukawski, IT-Client Partner, SYZYGY Warsaw
A Design System is a system for managing the visual communication of digital products
The artefacts produced by it coordinate and automatize the work of development teams. It defines the visual style of the brand in the digital space, creates the structure and nomenclature of interface elements, as well as introduces design patterns for interface elements.
When working on a Design System, we are repeatedly faced with the challenge of indicating to the customer the value of such a solution. The first thing that comes to mind is a range of benefits related to the quality of the resulting products and the maintenance of existing ones. But not only that.
What can we achieve by having a Design System?
- Consistency of architecture and design across the online ecosystem
- Improving user experience by repeatable patterns
- Increasing the organization’s flexibility relative to the creation and prototyping of new products and solutions (e.g., exploring new LPs)
- Centralization of finished components in the library allows faster propagation of changes to various products in the ecosystem
- The use of such modern solutions promotes the building of a competent, experienced, and motivated development team
It is important to remember at this stage that the metaverse is still a very malleable concept, in its very earliest incarnations.
I have been asked the same thing many times by clients – is such an investment worth it to us? Unfortunately, the best answer is “it depends.” Thinking about a Design System makes sense only if you have a complex ecosystem of products and plan to create new ones. The consequence will be investment-related not only to its creation but also to its subsequent maintenance (which often entails changing internal processes in the organization). On the other hand, in the case of an extensive ecosystem, we are talking about a much higher return potential.
For one client, we estimated that by having a Design System, design and front-end development could be 10 times shorter! Doesn’t that sound good?
Michał ŁukawskiIT Client Partner SYZYGY Warsaw
What tangible value can the Design System give us?
- Accelerate graphic and front-end work by having ready-made components
- Streamlining the implementation of new products from the design side
- Speeding up the time-to-market of new products or parts of them
- Fewer bugs (= fewer fixes) by reusing components in multiple places and testing them beforehand
- Better management of technical debt
- Facilitation of prototyping and experimentation with new solutions
- Improved communication between UX/UI designers and developers (much less ping-pong)
- Reduced onboarding time for new employees (shorter onboarding)
Is Design System the next trending industry buzzword? Possibly.
As usual in such cases, many people use the term erroneously, want to introduce something they don’t understand or, on the contrary, reject it without seeing the value in it. A well-constructed DS simply cannot be called a worthless toy for the product team. For one client, we estimated that by having a Design System, design and front-end development could be 10 times shorter! Doesn’t that sound good?