Design systems are a lot like community gardens. Everything in a system has a natural life cycle that begins with a human need, eventually grows into a fully-formed component or pattern, and (if nurtured) evolves over time.
System practitioners spend a lot of time focused on the beginning of this life cycle-how does the content of our system come to exist? How does it find its way into the system, and how can our communities play a key role in that process? …
Sprout Social’s design system, Seeds, has done a lot of growing up since it launched in October of last year. When we launched, our system was home to four categories of guidelines and principles: Brand, Visual, Writing, and Product. A healthy showing, for sure, but something was suspiciously missing — components.
Sprout has had a React component library longer than it’s had a design system. We call ours Racine (after the avenue in Chicago where Sprout was once headquartered), and it has long been the source of truth for component patterns in our web app.
At its core, our component…
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how to be proactive in the practice of design. It seems as if this is more relevant today than ever, with the increasing responsibility of designers to make things that won’t harm people or their minds.
What is proactive work? Depends on your job.
For a chef, it may mean sourcing local ingredients before writing the menu.
A record producer may seek out up-and-coming talents to anticipate trends.
Photographers often shoot photos already knowing which edits they will apply later.
When good programmers write code they also anticipate change, so they make it…
Designers today spend far too much time drawing rectangles and dragging them around the screen. Even designers who don’t know this kind of do know it, I think. Perhaps there is a point in every designer’s career (there certainly was for me) when the idea of design becomes less about aesthetics and more about structure.
When this happens, you’re forced to ask yourself questions about your process and how it serves the function of creating a cohesive, flexible, and supportive structure for your work. Once you move past aesthetics as your primary objective, you start to wonder why you’re manipulating…
I’m a design technologist based in Chicago leading the team behind Seeds, Sprout Social’s design system.