There is a common understanding that this system is not critical to the successful development of a software product. While building a good product without a design system is entirely possible, the latter offers a significant upgrade to the speed and unity within the development process.
What is a Design System?
Design System is a collection of all design elements relevant to a project or a product. It’s a framework for a more fluent and creative (to a chosen extent) workflow. It is common to approach the creation of the design system during the initial stages of software development, mainly software prototyping, or other stages related to UI/UX design.
There are multiple definitions of design systems, most of which are correct. Because the Design System is a library that serves as a knowledge base for designers and developers, guiding them in the same direction and reducing friction between main decision-makers.
Here are the things you can find in many design systems:
Each design system must facilitate the development of the product and take into account its specific functionality and goals.
Real-life example: Our case study for software prototyping process that includes a Design System.
How Does Design System Help In Particular?
What seems like a bunch of icons and color sets at first, can help in many cases of design and development based on the current needs of the process.
Uniformity In Product Vision
Design system is the result of work of many people with various backgrounds and views on how the product should look and feel. A design system is a thought-through library based on consensus. This way, it can provide specific guidelines to everyone involved in the project without requiring many further discussions.
Commonly, developers and designers may view each process and goal differently. Differences in vision and approaches may hinder the day-to-day development process. Design systems can work as a bridge between these specialists, providing common ground for designers and developers to find solutions faster and within the product vision.
Furthermore, software developers are always in close contact with designers, searching for answers to their routine issues (positioning, vision, button colors, etc.) A design system can provide most of these answers straight away, saving time for both designers and developers and enabling faster workflow.
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Optimized heavy lifting
The production process includes a lot of mundane steps that have to be done again and again. Countless components, frames, and more. Design system lets the team take care of the repetitive items first and reuse them later. This way, the majority of components will only be optimized or modified when necessary, avoiding the need to remake everything from scratch.
Such an approach can also reduce the likelihood of consistency-related errors in design and code.
More time for creativity
The aforementioned optimization provides a lot of wiggle room for the designers. This way, instead of focusing on routine tasks, the specialists can spend more time on solving broader problems and focusing on crafting a better user experience through a convenient customer journey.
It unlocks another layer of creativity and possible decisions that can improve the product by introducing innovation with time otherwise spent on re-creating and re-discussing the basic design and consistency goals.
Promote brand consistency
Design system allows to wrap up the main ideas about the brand image and its positioning into one neat package, usable for designers, developers, and everyone else on the team. Later on it can become the source of truth that supports decisions within the brand image, ensuring consistency.
Design system can act as a backbone for enabling scalability for the brand or the product, helping to introduce new features or services more fluently.
Design system is a collection of deliverables covering multiple product aspects. Components and patterns based on the product vision, brand image, UX practices, and more, all contribute to creating a database that will act as a guideline for designers and developers.
Design system is a great tool for optimizing routine work, reducing designer workload, and promoting better collaboration and communication between designers and developers. If done correctly, it doesn’t inhibit creativity. It, in turn, helps to create a framework and cover the “boring stuff,” allowing more time for solving complex problems in the future.
Design system is a powerful tool that can simplify development and help you convey the values of your business through the product.