Why does your startup need a design system? It helps in ensuring quality, reducing cost, and connecting teams

sayed elmohamady
4 min readJan 22, 2022

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Introduction:

As a designer working in the tech field; I get to talk to a wide range of engineers and designers about the obstacles they face in their day-to-day work. Effective communications between the designer <> the engineer is considered as the number obstacle; because of tighet deadlines, rollout plans, or team expansion plans.

And every time I recommend them to build a design system to reduce these obstacles; they fall into the trap of convincing the stakeholders to give them the time and space to build it.

In this article, I will show you how building a design system early will affect the cost, quality, and speed of delivery.

Introducing a design system is well worth it if you want to :

  • Ensure a consistent user experience on omnichannel
  • Increase the delivery speed of product development which will help the engineer to focus on the quality of the code
  • Launch more frequent and faster
  • Reduce the review time between the engineers <> the designers
  • Connect all the teams; engineers, quality, and product
  • Loss of interface predictability due to incoherent design

Collaborate and reduce the gap between the teams; Launch Faster with High Quality

So, what is a Design System?

It is a collection of reusable components governed by clear standards. These components can be assembled together to build the company’s products.

The design system consists of :

  • Styleguide: Colors, typography, spacing, icons, illustrations, etc.
  • Component library: Buttons, frames, navigation, etc.
  • Content Guide: Principles, common definitions, and tone of voice.
  • Pattern Guide: Users, business flow, etc.
  • Reference: Documentation and best practices.

General benefits of the Design system

  • Help in scaling the product
  • Consistency
  • Quick iterations
  • Get into details
  • Allow you to be creative
  • Accessibility

Reflecting on an old project

Before thinking about team structure let’s rethink old projects

1.1 Reflection to last work your team did

  • Look at your last work progress how it was
  • Long estimates
  • Pain points
  • repetitive work
  • Repetitive questions and use cases
  • Bad communications

1.2 Fixing pain points

  • Gather your old projects
  • Unify your similar workflow, components, and projects
  • Get new ideas from your team like new illustrations or Animation or colors or typography
  • Let teams share new ideas about how it reduces their effort
  • Setup decision-making workflow with design and engineers mindset

1.3 Components and principles

Define where the problem is the lake of clarity in decision making or something related to workflow and communication or it something relates to re-doing and re-creating like reusing a button in different shapes

Getting started with a new vision

  • Making your team existed about building this thing may not be easy but explaining the benefits of it could help them to get excited
  • Take one-one about their ideas to evaluate the new workflow
  • Look at other examples or case studies of how they work like: uber,Atlassian,google, etc..
  • A quick test

How to form your team

How to set an internal team based on your scale

Every startup have its scale and business conditions so they have to choose a model based on their needs

Solitary model

A single person has the full ownership of the design system Startup size: 2–7 designers

Pros: Ownership with a single person and it be fast and committed.

Con: This person will be a bottleneck for changes or decisions.

Centralised model

A dedicated team for the design system make their focus to support other teams Startup size: +7 designers

Pros: Ownership with a team and it is fast and committed.

Con: This team may feel disconnected from others.

Federal model

A single person has the full ownership of the design system

Startup size: a large one with different squads

Pros: Every member/team is involved

Con: Slower progress because everyone has their day-to-day work

But what about merging centralized and federal?

It will be great if you have a stable team and your startup has a launched project so your teams could maintain what they did before with a new vision

Let’s get started but don’t miss

  • Maintain and auditing your work will consume your time
  • Make a stable foundation have your identity
  • Component library
  • Make principles for your team

Thanks for your time

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sayed elmohamady