A brief overview of design tokens, what they can do, and why you should be using them in your projects

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Have you ever got back from IKEA, full of anticipation and excitement at the thought of constructing a cupboard yourself? Only to be left questioning your life choices two hours later, when you realise you’ve put two of the panels on upside down.

This can be a similar experience when application designs are handed over to developers. Often a sizeable amount of guesswork goes into translating design documents into code. Enter design tokens. They’ll do absolutely nothing to help your wonky cupboard doors, but can greatly help designers and developers create consistent user interfaces.

It wasn’t that long ago that services like InVision’s Inspect and Zeplin started to make the design to developer handover a thing that could be taken seriously. These solutions provide a well needed bridge between design and development, doing away with the painful concept of manual redlining. It still often leaves a lot open to interpretation. Design tokens hope to help with this interpretation, and get everyone talking in the same language. …


Andy Barnes

Front end developer who likes to design. Lover of technology, 80’s music and Dominic Toretto.

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