Does my business need a design system?

If you’re beginning to find it hard to keep tabs on all your company’s design and development assets, then your answer to the question above is likely to be a resounding ‘yes!’.

Have your online design and development efforts started to evolve rapidly? Perhaps you work for a relatively large B2B or B2C brand, and communications are becoming disjointed between your internal dev and design teams, and your external agencies. Or are you reaching out to more audiences online, and design data is being spread out across various servers and departments? 

If any of this feels even a little bit familiar, then a design system can do wonders for your business.  Read on, and discover what a design system can do for you. 

Bring your teams together

As a tool to bring together your digital designers and developers, a design system is second to none. Building one will combine your corporate style guide with your reusable UX elements and code snippets, to help teams understand what to create and how to design it.

When implemented well, a design system library educates and informs, simplifies workflows, and helps widely dispersed teams to tackle complex UX questions in far less time. 

It’s a single source of truth. Your entire business and all your partners, regardless of where they‘re based, have one place they can go to manage design components, UX guidelines, coded elements, documentation, and everything else. It keeps all your teams in sync.

Combining brand values with actual tooling

What makes a good design system is the combination of tangible and non-tangible elements. 

The non-tangible elements are the brand values, principles and rationale. They are the shared ways of working. The guidelines for tone of voice, photography and other useful information that shape the flow of your corporate identity.

The tangible elements are the actual tools that help designers and developers do their jobs. These are the reusable patterns, components, code snippets and building blocks that meet a specific interaction or UI need.

The benefits of a design system

When creating a design system, expect to achieve:

  • Higher levels of customer satisfaction
  • Faster time to market
  • A more consistent brand experience for all audiences, across all touchpoints
  • A proactive approach to changing market conditions
  • A reduction in development costs
  • Heightened levels of quality, with less quality control required

What to look out for when implementing a design system

There are a number of obstacles you might face when implementing a design system. For one, your design system needs to be set up properly. It’s formed from many components, patterns and styles, not to mention the brand style guide itself. There’s a lot to consider. You’re also going to need some major resources to teach others how to use the design system. 

It also needs to be maintained. And that takes some work. Design systems are not fire-and-forget solutions. They evolve constantly as teams gather feedback from those who use them.

The reasons why you could need a design system
The disadvantages are usually outweighed by the benefits. A good decisive rule for whether you need a design system is:

  • If you’re a relatively large B2C or B2B brand with a substantial national or international presence, and…  
  • …you have an internal team of developers and designers, which is…
  • …supported by multiple external agencies, then…

…you need a design system. 

It’s a logical move for established brands that want to provide a consistent user experience, scale their design and development efforts, accelerate workflows and improve collaborative efforts. 

If you want to learn a little more about design systems, then we’ve got just the solution for you. Take a look at our new free guide, Design Systems and the New Digital Frontier, and smooth your route to digital transformation.

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