How I Constructed a Design System Behind the Scenes

Emrah Kara
3 min readAug 6, 2023

Coming back to Fiinu after gaining five more years of experience in the UK tech market felt like a return to my professional home. I re-joined the team at a critical time, with our newly obtained banking license from the Bank of England in hand, and the goal of launching our innovative product, the Plugin Overdraft®. Amid the excitement and pressures, I soon realized we had overlooked an essential ingredient — a comprehensive design system.

This article isn’t meant to explain the meaning of a design system; it’s about the process and the unrecognised efforts behind it.

Our initial goals at Fiinu were clear-cut. Secure the required funding and roll out Plugin Overdraft®, a mobile app designed to ease financial management for millions. However, the realization that we were missing a well-structured design system in place, despite its overlooked importance, felt like discovering a hidden minefield.

I remember one of the pressing issues at the onset. The top-up and set minimum balance functions were on separate screens of the app. Given that the Fiinu app was a single-feature product, simplicity was key. My first step was to merge these two actions into one easy-to-access component, attainable from a single screen with just a swipe action.

The journey wasn’t easy. Time constraints and lack of awareness of the design system’s importance were our biggest challenges. It felt like standing on the edge of a cliff, with a tough decision to make: do we rush the delivery of the app or take a step back to lay a proper foundation? I chose the latter, knowing the long-term benefits would outweigh the initial hurdles.

We partnered with three experienced developers for the project. It was heartening to witness their immediate understanding and appreciation of the design system’s value. With their help, we swiftly began working on building the components, proving the importance of a well-thought-out foundation.

Building the design system was like constructing a complex puzzle — it wasn’t until we completed it that its true beauty and significance were realised. However, the recognition it deserved was mostly absent. Perhaps it was because the design system worked so smoothly that it didn’t draw attention to itself. It silently carried its weight, saving us time, money and ensuring consistency throughout the app. In fact, we didn’t just meet the business and regulatory requirements; we exceeded them, delivering a product that was both user-friendly and compliant.

In retrospect, building a robust design system was one of the best decisions we made at Fiinu. It allowed us to maintain high standards of consistency and smooth out complex workflows. Even though the recognition it deserves is often lacking, it remains an integral part of our success story.

It’s an exciting journey to reflect upon. As we continue to evolve and innovate, the lessons we learned from the process will always guide us. So, here’s a tribute to the silent heroes in product design — the unrecognised, yet invaluable design systems, the invisible forces driving a product’s success.

Emrah is an expert product designer with over a decade of experience. He has a proven track record of driving user engagement and boosting business metrics across a broad range of industries. Emrah’s specialty lies in harmonizing UX/UI principles with business objectives and user needs, making him a highly sought-after professional in his field.

Connect with Emrah on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up with his latest insights and endeavors in product design.

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