As a business, it is important to have a consistent and cohesive brand identity across all of your digital touchpoints. A design system can help you achieve this by providing guidelines and components for creating a unified language for your products. In this blog post, we'll provide a basic overview of design systems: what they are, their purpose, and their benefits.
What is a Design System?
A design system is a set of standards and rules that define how design elements should be used and combined to create a cohesive and consistent visual language for a brand or product. It serves as a reference point for designers and developers as they create new products or features and helps ensure that all of a company's digital touchpoints have a consistent and cohesive look and feel.
A design system typically includes:
Visual design elements and brand guidelines
This includes guidelines for the use of the brand's logo, colors, typography, imagery, and tone of voice.
These are pre-designed and pre-coded UI elements that can be easily incorporated into new products or features.
Guidelines for use
These are rules and best practices for how the design elements and components should be used and combined.
This includes detailed explanations and examples of how to use the design system, as well as any updates or changes that have been made over time.
Depending on how mature the design system is, your design system can also include other information like:
Accessibility guidelines: This includes guidelines for ensuring that the product or service is accessible to users with disabilities.
Technical guidelines: This includes guidelines for the technical implementation of the product or service, including coding standards and libraries.
Motion Design: This includes information about the timing and duration of animations, as well as the visual style and effects used.
The Purpose of a Design System
So, what's the point of a design system? Here are a few key benefits:
Consistency: A design system helps ensure that all of a company's digital products and touchpoints have a consistent and cohesive visual language, which can improve user experience and build trust and recognition with customers.
Efficiency: By providing a set of pre-designed and pre-coded components, a design system can streamline the design and development process and help designers and developers work more efficiently and effectively.
Scalability: A design system can also help a company scale its digital products and touchpoints as it grows, by providing a flexible and adaptable framework for design and development.
Collaboration: A design system can also facilitate collaboration between designers and developers, by providing a common reference point and set of standards to work from. This can improve communication and coordination between teams and help ensure that all products and touchpoints align with the company's overall design vision.
The Benefits of a Design System for Businesses:
For businesses, a design system can offer a range of benefits, including:
Improved brand recognition: A cohesive and consistent visual language can help customers more easily recognize and identify a company's products and services, which can lead to increased loyalty and customer retention.
Enhanced user experience: By providing a consistent and cohesive visual language across all products and touchpoints, a design system can improve the user experience and make it easier for users to interact with the products.
Increased efficiency and agility: By providing a set of standards and guidelines for design and development, a design system can help businesses work more efficiently and quickly iterate on new products or features.
Better communication and collaboration: A design system can facilitate collaboration between designers and developers, by providing a common reference point and set of standards to work from. This can improve communication and coordination between teams and help ensure that all products and touchpoints align with the business's overall design vision.
Implementing a Design System
So, how can businesses go about implementing a design system? Here are a few key steps:
Define the purpose and scope of the design system: Before starting the implementation process, it's important for you to clearly define the purpose and scope of the design system. This may involve determining the target audience, identifying the products and touchpoints that will be included in the design system, and establishing the overall goals and objectives of the design system.
Gather and analyze existing design assets: To create a cohesive visual language, you should gather and analyze all of the existing design assets, including logos, colors, typography, icons, and imagery. This will help you identify any inconsistencies or gaps in their design assets and determine what needs to be included in the design system.
Define your brand values and visual style: Once you have an understanding of the state of brand guidelines, the next step in building the design system would be to define the brand values and visual style. This would involve creating a set of design principles that reflect the brand's personality and values. This would serve as a reference for designers and developers as they create new products or features.
Develop component libraries: For efficient use of the design system, you should create a library of pre-designed and pre-coded UI elements that can be easily incorporated into new products or features. This might include basic components like buttons and form, fields, and more complex components like navigation and modals.
Create guidelines for use: To ensure that the design system is used consistently, next you would create guidelines for how the design elements and components should be used and combined. This might include rules for typography, layout, and other design elements.
Create documentation: The final step to building a design system would be to create comprehensive documentation for the design system, including detailed explanations and examples of how to use the design elements and components. This documentation should be regularly updated to reflect any changes or updates to the design system.
Train the team: To ensure that the design system is used consistently, the team should be trained on how to use it effectively. This might involve providing workshops or training sessions or creating resources like cheat sheets or video tutorials.
Monitor and update your design system: A design system is never truly "finished," as it needs to evolve and adapt to changing business needs and design trends. It's important to regularly review and update your design system to ensure that it remains relevant and effective.
Partnering with Experts to Build a Design System
While businesses can build a design system in-house, partnering with experts can help ensure that the process is efficient, effective, and scalable. At Perpetual, we have extensive experience helping businesses create design systems that meet their specific needs and goals. Our team of experts can help you define your brand values and visual style, create a visual style guide and component libraries, develop guidelines for use, and create comprehensive documentation. We can also provide training and support to ensure that your design system is used consistently across your organization. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you create a design system that drives business success.