A design (system) for life


  • What design systems are not
  • What’s in a design system
  • The best design systems to use
  • Business benefits of using a design system

Design systems are many things to many people, but let me start by saying what a Design System is not… it is not a Figma Library, style guide or a pattern library… Actually, it’s all of these and so much more!

A Design System is not a deliverable, it is the single source of truth which synergises a reusable set of components, guided by clear standards. This enables brand teams to design, realize and develop products, experiences and identities both on and offline. The need for Design Systems goes hand in hand with the need for scale, efficiency, and consistency in business design across all touchpoints.
They are a set of holistic standards to manage design at scale by minimising redundant visual real estate, while at the same time creating a shared visual language and consistency across brand touch points and channels.

Design systems are an ever-evolving set of reusable components, principles, and guidelines that give designers, developers and brand guardians a shared language for consistent visual communication. Design systems are employed by brand teams to create products and deliver digital user experiences that feel consistently on-brand.

In essence…A design system serves as a common language between teams of engineers, designers, and product managers, making it easier or them to work together.

So what’s actually in a design system?

There are many interpretations of what a design system should consist of, but we think https://webflow.com‘s Interpretation is the best roadmap to adhere to:

Design principles or the rules and values that drive your design team. For example, when Quartz redesigned its website in 2014, their team based their work on design principles, such as “Stay out of the users’ way,” “Let the stories shine,” and “Make sure it works on mobile.” Design principles will differ from company to company, and they will likely reflect the brand’s core values.
• A design pattern library or a central repository of approved and commonly used patterns. According to the Interaction Design Foundation, a pattern is “a repetition of more than one design element working in concert with each other.” Those elements can be shapes, lines, colors, etc.
• A UI kit/component library or a collection of UI-focused components like buttons, widgets, code snippets and more. These assets allow teams to create consistent, UI-friendly designs more quickly.
Design process guidelines, which help designers interpret design principles as they execute a task.
Accessibility elements and guidelines or key rules and recommendations that help teams create designs that are more accessible to all users and that comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

What are the best design systems?

In an ever maturing digital landscape there are more and more design systems now available to use as a foundation. Here we have outlined some of the most popular systems used by creatives.

Google Material Design – https://material.io/design
Material Design is an Android-oriented design language created by Google, supporting onscreen touch experiences via cue-rich features and natural motions that mimic real-world objects. Designers optimize users’ experience with 3D effects, realistic lighting and animation features in immersive, platform-consistent GUIs.

Apple Human Interface Guidelines – https://developer.apple.com/design/human-interface-guidelines/
The Human Interface Guidelines — “HIG” for short — offers in-depth information and UI resources for all of Apple’s platforms, including specific technology areas. … It offers a high-level and comprehensive view of key UI elements and associated APIs, and best practices to help you implement features into your app.

Atalssian design system – https://atlassian.design/
The design system template gives you the tools you need to define your design principles, document components, and clarify rules and best practices for design, writing, and more. It’s the perfect starting point for any design system.

IBM Carbon Design System – https://www.carbondesignsystem.com/
Carbon is IBM’s open source design system for products and digital experiences. With the IBM Design Language as its foundation, the system consists of working code, design tools and resources, human interface guidelines, and a vibrant community of contributors.

We also recommend taking a look at AirBnb design (https://airbnb.design/building-a-visual-language/) and Uber design system (https://eng.uber.com/introducing-base-web/)

Business Benefits

So now we understand what design systems are, what’s included in one and which are the best systems out there presently, as a business owner why should you use one? Here we have outlined some core reasons that can help deliver significant competitive advantages for your business.

  • Enhanced brand equity via a consistency delivered identity across digital products, brand and web
  • Enables cross-functional collaboration – ultimately driving up productivity.
  • It increases the speed and scalability of design – reducing duplicative work and cost of redesigns
  • Design (and development) work can be created and replicated quickly and at scale.
  • Reduces strain on design resources to focus on larger, more complex problems.
  • Creates a consistent unified language within and between cross-functional teams.
  • It can serve as an educational tool and reference for junior-level designers and content contributors.
  • Decreases time spent on maintaining the code base – enables us to support the application for a lower cost than if it was not based on a design system

So now with a core understanding of design systems, we encourage you to carry on researching and start working with one of the systems we recommend to build your knowledge

Need help with improving performance and usability of your company website?

If so, contact the team at Hijack Creative to discover how we can help your business.