What is the Design system and why is it a good idea to start working on it?

01. Nov, 2023

How to fight chaos in the design world?  

A design system is a strategic approach to creating and managing design elements to ensure a consistent and effective presentation of a brand or product across multiple channels and platforms. It is a comprehensive set of rules, patterns, components and guidelines that enable designers and marketers to create coherent and accurate visual experiences for users.  

Why is the Design System important?


Consistency and brand identity

One of the main reasons is to maintain consistency in visual brand identity. Defining a consistent style, colors, typography, and other design elements helps create a strong and easily recognizable brand identity. Consistent brand presentation leads to building trust and loyalty with customers.  


Efficient and fast content creation

The design system simplifies the content creation process. With carefully crafted templates and components, designers and marketers can quickly and efficiently create new content without the need for re-design. This allows them to react quickly to current events and trends.  


Better collaboration and communication

The design system facilitates collaboration between designers, developers and other team members. Everyone works with the same rules and components, leading to better understanding and sharing of information. This reduces the risk of misunderstandings and prevents inconsistent content. 

Reduction of time and financial costs

Investing in a Design System can seem like a costly affair at first. However, in the long run, it saves time and money. Reducing the time-consuming nature of content creation and minimizing implementation errors, leads to reduced redesign and maintenance costs.  


Flexibility and extensibility

The design system is flexible and extensible. It can adapt to new brand needs or new market trends. This allows the brand to grow and evolve without having to start from scratch.  


How to start working on a Design System?  

Define the visual identity of the brand

Establish clear rules for colors, typography, logos and other design elements. Make sure these rules reflect your brand values and mission.  


Create a library of components

Create a library of design components that designers and developers can easily use to create new content. For example, include buttons, icons, forms, and other frequently used elements.  

Communicate and implement the Design System

Ensure that all team members are aware of the Design System and how to use it. Implementing new rules and components may require training and support.  


Continuous optimization

The Design System is not static, so optimize and update it regularly as needed and based on user feedback. Keep an eye on trends and technological innovations and adapt the Design System to new challenges.  


Examples from practice  

Why not start creating a design system right away

Creating a design system costs a lot of time and energy, which is better to move to the product itself and focus on it and your creativity at an early stage. It's also a good idea to consider if you really need a design system, if you have a small project where not so many components are needed it's better to just create a style guide.


What to do if I am creating a design system for the first time

It is of course best to work with someone who already has similar experience. However, if there is no one like that, it is a good idea to check out the big design systems that are free and also often have documentation where everything is nicely explained. Sometimes you can get a lot more out of them than just how to build a design system.  


Continuous development

Unfortunately, you can't build a perfect system that will hold up across time. It needs to be constantly developed and adapted to the product and all its requirements. As your design system grows you may need a designer and later a whole team to maintain and develop it further.


Keep learning

Of course, it's best to work with someone who already has similar experience. But if you don't have one, it's a good idea to check out the big design systems, which are free and often have documentation that explains everything nicely. Sometimes you can get a lot more out of them than just how to build a design system.


What brands have a great design system?

Check out:  

Airbnb https://airbnb.design/building-a-visual-language/  

Uber https://base.uber.com/6d2425e9f/p/93825b-welcome-to-base 

Google https://m3.material.io/ 

Microsoft https://fluent2.microsoft.design/ 

IBM https://carbondesignsystem.com/ 

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