Design Systems 101

Using a design system can be a time and cost efficient way to work but what is a design system, what's involved and how can they help your business?

Andrew Smith
17/04/2019
What is a Design System?

A design system is a structured approach to creating and implementing design across your company. This involves working with and developing teams, processes and technology. The aim of a well-built design system is to create efficient processes and solutions that frontload resources and can be repeated and reused to create high-quality work.

Through working with design systems, companies can reduce the time, resources and cost that goes into producing design work. Essentially, they help make producing a new flyer take a couple of hours instead of a couple of weeks and mean a bespoke, segmented marketing campaign doesn’t have to be created from scratch every time you want to target a new market.

What’s involved?

Each design system is tailored to your company and its own set of problems, but there are a few consistent parts to a good design system:

  • A Purpose – every design system should start with a purpose or an aim, something that the work and system can be tested against

  • Teams – a group of the right people brought together to make high-level decisions to ensure the system and its outputs meet the core needs of your company

  • Standards – guidelines and rules to manage the system and the work carried out

  • Technology – any platforms that help the system to work, often by aiding collaboration and making sure design is openly accessible across your teams

Every system also tends to follow the same process:

  1. Design – deciding on the above elements and outlining the processes within the system

  2. Test – after implementation, and at regular intervals, the system should be assessed to make sure it’s working towards your intended goal

  3. Iterate – take the findings from testing and analysis and put these back into the system by adapting the design where necessary

This process helps you create a design system that not only helps you now, but also adapts as your company grows.

Overall, implementing well planned and tested design systems throughout your business can help frontload work and reduce the cost of design on your resources.

Want to find out how we can help? See our Design Systems page to find out more.

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