An iterative set of 8 standards for building and maintaining empowering design systems.

Defining design system principles header graphic
Defining design system principles header graphic

What is a good design system? Depending on who you ask, it can mean different things. Good for who? In what way is it good? How do I measure its goodness? I think this is normally where someone peeks in and yells: “You need values!”. But here’s the thing: I never found it helpful to refer to a set of broad or obvious buzz words like “Simple, Valuable, and Clear”.

When faced with a difficult choice while designing, broad adjectives aren’t helpful. “Simple” can mean drastically different things depending on the person and the product.

Valuable values blow my mind gif
Valuable values blow my mind gif
My reaction when a company’s value is “Valuable”

Turns out what I really needed was a set of principles. In my experience, companies interchange the terms principles, standards, and values so allow me to elaborate on how I have come to use them. …

Practical tactics for writing helpful design guidelines

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I wrote this article to document what I’m learning professionally while working on the new Garden Design System site in 2020. Like this article? Check out Defining Design System Principles.

Writing design system documentation

Creating effective documentation is a really important part of a design system. The key word there is effective. My experience with design system documentation is that there is rarely a shortage of information. Helping people understand how to use the system by presenting it in an organized and succinct fashion is the hard part.

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To make matters worse, design system documentation is a moving target. Standards and guidelines evolve over time with the products they serve. …


Ross Moody

Product designer by trade, front-end engineer at heart. Working on the Garden Design System @zendesk . Previously @brave and 55 Hi’s.

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