Design Systems Sprint 0: The Silver Bullet of Product Development.

Lack of design consistency: the biggest issue in product design?

Design consistency was clearly a prevalent issue. And our interviewees were very vocal about what that meant for their teams and users:

  • User confusion. Different patterns responsible for the same action confuse users,
  • Slow design process. Lack of reusable design assets slows down designers (‘everything is created from scratch’)
  • Slow development. Low number of fully reusable components bogs down development.
  • Difficult onboarding. Introducing new designers and developers to an undocumented ‘system’ is impossibly difficult.
Results of UXPin State of the Enterprise UX Survey

“Software is often built by incredibly large teams of people. The challenge to create coherent experiences multiplies exponentially as more people are added to the mix. Over time, no matter how consistent or small a team is, different people will contribute new solutions and styles, causing experiences to diverge.”

The more inconsistent the user experience, the slower product development becomes and vice versa. In my past experience as a UX manager in the enterprise, teams unable to identify design standards eventually default to building everything from scratch. And so the situation worsens.

Governing the chaos

So how are these teams working to minimize inconsistencies?

Results of UXPin State of the Enterprise UX Survey

Deconstructing design systems

So far in this short post I’ve mentioned the term ‘design system’ over 20 times. So what exactly is a design system? After all, it’s not a self-explanatory term. And it’s easily confused with style guides or UI pattern libraries.

A design system is the architectural core of a product(s) for ensuring design and code consistency and product development efficiency.

It’s a little bit easier to understand if you’d take a look at the typical structure of a design system.

Result of UXPin research

Design consistency at UXPin: why we really needed a design system

Our own research hit us right in the face. We’ve tried to fight inconsistency in our interface with a set of design principles and rudimentary libraries, but we’d never moved into a full design system.

UXPin Stylesheets Repository shows a good level of modularity

The journey ahead

By the time you’re reading these words, our Design Operations team (led by yours truly) is already multiple sprints ahead. It gives me time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, so I can share all the hard lessons with you.

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Marcin Treder

Marcin Treder

Design Tools Radical. CEO at UXPin — the most advanced code–based design tool out there: http://uxpin.com