UI Kits or Design System Kits? What is the difference? Which one to use?

Thalion
Thalion
Apr 1, 2019 · 7 min read

Building UI from scratch may be a tedious process. What’s more, there are many other exciting and challenging aspects to design. This is where design resources come and help to save our time.

But… should you use a next UI Kit? Or maybe it is time to try Design System Kit?

In this story, let’s explain what are the differences between UI Kits and Design System Kits and see the benefits of each type of resource.

What is UI Kit?

UI Kits are typically the set o pages. They are mockups for web or mobile solution in a particular category (finance, commerce, music, etc.). They look nice, but there is no guarantee that the customization will be easy. Technically, it is not so popular to include the set of customizable symbols with shared styles. Some of them use good practices and modern techniques, but they are usually premium high-quality resources

What is Design System?

Before we dive into the definition of Design System Kit, let’s remind what Design System is.

Some designers think that Design System is advanced UI Style-guide, but it is something more. It is a source of truth for the whole team. This means UI Component Library for Designers, Ready to use UI Elements in a code for Developers and the Principles described in the documentation. Design System helps you maintain consistency and design faster. It helps to communicate with the rest of the team.

You can read more about Design Systems here:

What is Design System Kit?

Basically, the fundamental part of Design System Kit is the comprehensive set of UI control and elements that are customizable. In this may be achieved by using Symbols, Layer Styles and Text Styles. Since the introduction of overrides feature, it is a real pleasure to work with them.

These UI elements let you quickly build a UI Component Library for Design System. More and more Design Systems include a sample UI Kit to preview the potential of the solution. Some of the Design Systems include vector device templates, charts or even illustrations.

In a few words: Design System Kit let you create UI Library for Design Systems easily.

Comparison

Let’s compare both types of resources. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. Below you may find Pros & Cons of UI Kits and Design System Kits.

UI Kits — Pros & Cons

Pros

  • UI Kits often look nice right out the box.
  • They are an excellent source of inspiration.
  • If the UI Kit has a good quality, you may learn good practices with it.

Cons

  • UI Kits may look nice only in one type of configuration.
  • They may not have all necessary UI elements.
  • Some UI Kits have got poor quality — weak layer naming, no symbols and styles.
  • They are not universal — usually, you can use them in just one project or category.

Design System Kits — Pros & Cons

Pros

  • They are designed for universal purposes — purchase once, use everywhere.
  • Design System Kits are usually designed with good quality.
  • You Learn best practices of styles and symbols usage.
  • Design System Kits are time-savers. You are able to create web or mobile design within minutes.
  • Quick customization (the majority of Design System Kits focus on that purpose).
  • Design System Kits are ready to be used as a UI Library for real living Design Systems.
  • Some of them include sample UI Kit

Cons

  • They may not look so pretty right out of the box
  • Sometimes initial configuration may be slow (depends on the particular resource you get — some system kits overwhelm users with the first contact)

OK, but what are the main differences? 🤔

If we would want to sum up the Pros & Cons section:

  1. Design System Kit is much more than UI Kit. At first, they may seem like a less attractive resource, but they have other purposes.
  2. UI Kit is the source of inspiration that you may use as is.
  3. Design System gives you the power to build your own stuff efficiently with best practices.
  4. UI Kits may be a part of Design System Kit.
  5. Design System are usually built to be used quickly.

Which one should I use?

In my opinion, UI Kits are a great resource when you want to learn how to achieve a particular effect included in the Kit. Sure, some of them have some customizable elements, but there is no guarantee that mockups will look good with your setup.

If you have a big work to do, website, mobile app — use Design System Kit. They are strong foundations that let you start designing quickly. Design System Kits enables you to skip the tedious part of the work, unleash your creativity and maintain consistency at the same time. Design System Kits is the right choice for long term projects.

With Design System Kits you can build anything you want faster. Here is the sample stuff I created with Design System Kit I use:

Sample made with Prime Design System Kit

Where I can get UI Kits?

For free resources, you should browse Sketch App Sources. For premium one visit following sites:

Where I can get Design System Kits?

Design System Kits are not so popular yet, but they offer much more possibilities. I found and studied lots of resources of this type. I also created one, and I include it below, but I also want this article to be objective, that’s why I would also like to list the folks that make similar stuff.

Prime Design System Kit — after analysis of many present Design System Kits I decided to create own resource that will be a real time-saving machine for web and mobile designers. Prime includes not only the set of UI Elements but also UI Kit with over 40 pages, Device Templates, Customizable charts and for the first time ever in the Design System Kit — Illustration Kit.

UX Power Tools — the kit from and . They make a lot of great work writing nice tutorials on Medium.

Cabana — created by , He is also writing lots of good tutorials in Design+Sketch Publication.

Atomize — made by

Frames — created by

Visual System — designed by

UI Design System — created by UI/UX Assets Team

Summing up

If someone would ask me when to use UI Kit and Design System Kits I would sum up with this:

Inspire yourself with UI Kits. Make real work with Design System Kits.

Both of the resources have their advantages and disadvantages. Most of UI Kits look great, but they are hard to use in large custom projects. Design System Kits may not seem to be pretty at first, but they unleash their unlimited potential during UI Design process.

By the way…

If you plan to start a new project soon or to organize your UI Library — do not waste your time creating everything from scratch. Feel free to use the Prime — Design System Kit. See Prime in action.

To make it easier there is a gift 🎁 Use MEDIUM10 offer code to get 10% Off.

You can also Create User Flows faster in Sketch — With SQUID you can create User Flows directly in Sketch the sketch file with your artboards. Everything may be done within a couple of clicks. See how it works.


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Thanks for reading!

Design + Sketch

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Thalion

Written by

Thalion

Przemysław Baraniak, Author of UXMisfit.com | UX/UI Designer

Design + Sketch

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