But what exactly are design systems?
Recently designers, professional UX/UI design agencies, and product designers have started to talk about design systems. They are recommending that every business develop their personalised one. But what exactly are design systems? And why should you design them? Who needs them exactly? Continue reading the post and learn more.
A Very Short History of Design Systems
The term “design system” was first used in the middle of the twentieth century. It referred to a system of visual brand identification. At that time, all products you could buy in stores relied visually on their shape for recognition. However, along with the internet, online stores and websites appeared. These promoted supplies and services, and designers brought back the term “design system” in this context. They needed something to describe a set of rules and patterns that would help them to communicate with each other and design products in a team that kept a consistent style and set of ideas. But more about that in the next paragraph.
What Is a Design System
Design systems are not to be confused with other UX/UI tools like guidelines, UI kits, or brand books. Let’s take a closer look.
A design system is a set of brand values, tools, and components that simplify the creation, testing, as well as visual and technical updating of products. Further, it also ensures the uniformity of their interfaces.
Design systems are everywhere: road signs, buttons, anywhere you can imagine. These systems are universally recognisable – that is what’s so great about them. Even if you go to another country, you will know where and how to cross the street (thanks to a crosswalk sign) or buy medicine (pharmacies often use a cross as their emblem). The task of design systems is to help every member of the team grasp the understanding of the unique elements of the project. Having a design system also facilitates the transition of new employees since they have all the information they need in one place.
So what components are usually included in a design system?
- guidelines, a brand book;
- tools for optimising work with design tasks for designers ( can be a library in Sketch or Figma, font guide, layouts);
- design documentation that describes the technical standards and the concept for using these tools.
As you can see, this term has quite a broad meaning. Every UX/UI agency includes what they find the most relevant, but overall, the design system always means the same thing.
Who Needs a Design System and Why?
Typically, design systems are needed by large enterprises or institutions that regularly update and launch new services: banks, holdings, international corporations.
Typically, banks have mobile applications and a website that share similar interfaces. This problem can be solved by using a single approach to design and engineering, that is, a design system. Even if the site and the application create separate teams of designers and developers, they can still use common components and patterns.
In the future, when the bank management decides to redesign the site and application, the design system will allow components centrally to be updated in all projects simultaneously.
The design system creates a sense of unity and helps the consumer achieve the desired goal in the shortest possible time, and for large businesses to earn more.
How Else Can Design Systems Be Helpful?
Apart from allowing the designers to make stylish products, there are other potential benefits if you have a professional UX/UI design company develop a design system for you.
It saves time. All team members design, develop, and implement products based on common design elements. That means faster time to delivery and fewer bugs.
Secondly, the design system simplifies communication within the team, helps designers and developers solve the tasks that managers pose.
Also, the presence of a design system allows you to attract specialists of any level to the team and not be afraid that they will ruin the product. A design system created by a strong team minimises the likelihood of error.
A design system is not a guide, UI kit, or brand book. It is a combination of components that form a single system of design and web development. A design system saves time and resources on developing, testing, or updating components. But, like any tool, the design system itself requires support and updates, which require team resources. A design system allows you to get a holistic interface and consolidate brand products to a single visual language. This helps companies increase recognition and customer loyalty.