On the Current State of Design Systems in UX
Christian Beck
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Christian,

Nice article! That said, I’m struck by a few things.

Design systems (back then, “component libraries”) were used throughout the 2000s, and even at least as early as Dell.com’s library of “atoms and molecules” in 1999 created in partnership with Frog Design. Cisco, Sun Microsystems, Yahoo, eBay and other companies managed design systems component library throughout the decade, citing savings over $10,000,000 internally. Sometimes, as with Yahoo, these resided alongside pattern libraries. My book Modular Web Design (2009) provides a glimpse into those efforts on whose shoulders we stand today. Design systems, as it were, are not that new, but they certainly have thrived with (1) HTML & CSS becoming more powerful and modular, (2) our field maturing, and (3) so many wonderful participants and orgs in the field sharing their work.

Additionally, governance models using design systems aren’t the purview of purely “massive” companies. A considerable proportion of my consulting today involves organizations spreading a visual language and component library across 5 to 10 product teams. To run into governance is to encounter any situation where your team adopts a library, language, or other set of standards for which you must cede authority to an entity outside your group. Organizations with even as few as two or three teams run into this, if not as mechanized as larger companies have made it.

Cheers,

Nathan

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