How to Utilize a Design System

The digital world has resulted in an explosion of interactions between customers and brands. As the number of channels to interact is consistently growing, it is getting increasingly difficult for brands to effectively maintain customer relationships.

But services and products can be effectively created and managed if there is a well-established design system at the core.



What is a Design System?

In simple words, a design system is a framework of reusable components. Apart from the components themselves, it is also home to the standards which guide the components, determining how they should function together across consistent environments.

From UI components, design elements to the standards for guiding their use, a design system accommodates all of it, allowing their usage in multiple combinations while still ensuring enhanced consistency that brands need.



What is the Purpose of Design Systems?

The UI design has gone through a period of evolution in the last decade or so. As a result, the speed and scale at which the interfaces should be created have risen drastically. There are now billions of websites and millions of applications, and their numbers keep growing every year. Moreover, each of these websites and apps can have hundreds and thousands of pages.

To keep up with this drastic expansion, organizations need a way to streamline the entire design process. And this is precisely what the primary purpose of a design system is. Unlike style guides that only cater to the styling aspects or the pattern library, which focuses on patterns, a design system is a more extensive set of reusable components, including styling, patterns, and much more.



What’s Included in a Design System?

So, what is a design system made up of? Here are some of the most vital components-

UI Inventory
The first step to building a design system is creating a catalog of reusable components used in your product. This will include colors, patterns, icons, text styles, and grid systems.

Design Principles
The design principles are a set of sentences or guidelines that assist teams in reaching the ultimate objective of a product through designing. In other words, the design principles make it easier for the teams to make meaningful decisions regarding the design of a product.

Color Palettes
You can consider 1-3 common primary colors used across your product to represent your brand. Colors in different tints and shades are preferred as they provide designers with more options to experiment with.

The majority of the design systems only have two different fonts. One is for the front end (body copy and headings), and another monospace font used in the back end (coding). Keeping the number of fonts low is one of the most effective ways to avoid performance issues and ensure better consistency.

Icons are very effective in eliminating the language barrier. Icons also help in encouraging users to take action. For instance, a downward arrow can be used for accentuating a download button. Create an icon library and finalize the technology that will be used for its implementation.

Style Properties
All the other style elements that are not covered above should be focused on in this component. For instance, it can be used for defining the amount of white space and its usage across pages. Standardize the same to eliminate inconsistencies further.



Why Companies Need Design Systems?

A design system is one of the most effective ways for organizations to ensure their teams stay in sync. Every team member or new hire will have a unique thought process to deliver the expected outcome. This leads to significant inconsistencies, which a design system can help eliminate.

Some of the other reasons why organizations need design systems are as follows-

  • Design at scale with improved consistency
  • Reduced building time
  • Ensures every team member is on the same page
  • Encourages innovation
  • Improves collaboration
  • Helps you build strong brands


What Makes a Good Design System?

Three of the most critical pillars of any good design system are reuse ability, robustness, and detailed documentation.

While there are many different ways and tools for creating design systems, the ultimate goal of a good system is to effectively achieve the primary objectives of making the whole design process more efficient and cost-effective.