Your design system is not a project.

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When new designers and developers join forces to evolve your design system it is tempting to start working in projects. You might even create some epics and sprints to move user stories from your backlog in a Scrum environment. But when your design system is not a full-time effort, this will work counter-productive.

Our agency WebNL was growing when we started a design system team. New designers and developers had joined our teams, and we also acquired another UX agency. With this growth came a need for better organising and standardisation of processes and tools.

Our new coworkers started to work on client projects and they needed a well-functioning design system to do that. Ironically, I found that making our design system into yet another project didn’t function well. …


After shutting down our first design system late 2018 we built a new and improved design system from the ground up.

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Back in 2018, when I started my job at WebNL, I was asked to look into ways to improve the bridge between design and development within our company. I came up with a system that automatically extracted design tokens from Sketch designs and translated them into SCSS variables. This was also our first design system.

For numerous reasons this first design system failed. You can read about how it worked and why it failed in my previous article.

In the article you are reading now I will talk about our new design system at WebNL. It is still about improving the bridge between design and development, but without the complexity of automation and the urge to cut down on time. …


Persuasion and influence are all around at Christmas. In fact, we can use Cialdinis principles of influence to find out why the user experience of Christmas is almost always a success.

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In the Netherlands, we have a holiday called Saint Nicholas (or Sinterklaas). It’s very much like Christmas nowadays. We like to say that the idea of Santa Claus was stolen from Saint Nicholas, but there has probably been some interchange of different concepts and ideas over the years.

Anyway, the festival in the Netherlands gave me the idea to compare it with Cialdinis principles of influence, because it has so much influence. And since Christmas is very much the same and much wider known, I will compare Cialdinis principles with Christmas and Santa Claus in this article.

Fun fact: You can also use Cialdinis principles of influence to explain other holidays, relationships, career development and all kinds of personal objectives. …


As product designers we are always fixing problems, creating stuff that other people need. Let’s take a step back and see how we can bring a little art into our daily work.

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A few years back I did an interview with a creator outside of the design field as part of an assignment. I also had to write an essay about how their workflow differed from my workflow as a product designer.

When I got the assignment I just knew I had to interview a comic artist. I used to draw comics before I started in product design. I even wanted to be a professional comic artist for a while, although that didn’t work out for me.

Then I realised I actually knew a professional comic artist who might be willing to talk to me. I had been lucky enough to get drawing classes from comic artist Milan Hulsing at an art academy where I had studied before. …


Use competitive usability tests to improve your own product.

You don’t have to copy your competitors, or ignore them instead. By using two user testing methods explained in this article, you can see what your competitors are doing right and wrong instantly to start learning from them.

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When I started my career in UX, people were always telling me how they liked this function at service X that they had used or seen. Then they asked me to copy it. That made me feel bad, because it was basically like stealing work from other people.

Other people were telling me that I should never even consider copying functions from existing services, because the fact that it worked for them did not mean that it would work for me. But that also felt wrong, because if someone else had already spent time inventing the wheel, why would I try to do it all over again? …


A new model for creating human centered UX design.

This article is the second part in a series about design guidelines. Also read part one about design guidelines and part three about organizing a workshop.

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To create design guidelines for human centered design, we will need to take a look at the context of our design problems. Without understanding the context, we won’t know which problems need to be fixed by the design. To do this, we can use existing methods, like human centered design and the golden circle. But while these methods are powerful on their own, they won’t enable us to create design guidelines yet. …


Create consensus together in a quick workshop.

This article is the third part in a series about design guidelines. Also read part one about design guidelines and part two about the golden filter of UX design.

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A while ago I created a workshop for a project in order to align stakeholders on design guidelines. The workshop was a success, but I wanted to improve things. So later I repeated this workshop with a group of students in collaboration with Tim Laukens and Celine Duijndam from the University of Applied Sciences Rotterdam. …


Align stakeholders and designers by creating design guidelines.

This article is the first part in a series about design guidelines. Also read part two about the golden filter of ux design and part three about organizing a workshop.

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A while ago I found myself in need of creating design guidelines. I was in a meeting about a project, where our UX designer and our marketeer were arguing about what we needed to do to reach success. It was like watching a rocket being launched with the brakes still left on; A lot of effort had already been spent on research, but we weren’t gaining results.

So I thought back to how we solved this in school (unpopular opinion: school actually teaches you some good methods) and remembered learning about design guidelines. These assured that the research was agreed upon before any concepts were proposed. …


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For a short period of time I worked on a design system at WebNL, an agency specialised in web design, development and marketing based in the Netherlands. Our design system was aimed at improving the bridge between the design and development of the products we’re making.

In this blog I will explain how we did this, and why it didn’t work eventually. Hopefully this will prevent others from making the same mistakes we made, even though we’ve learned a lot from them.

The beginning of the journey

When I started working at WebNL, one of my first tasks was to look into the possibilities of improving the transition between design and development of web products. Traditionally this has been a process of developers ‘copying’ the mock-ups made by designers. …

About

Daniël De Wit

UX Designer | Design system engineer | Visualiser | daniel-dewit.nl

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