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Achieve The Purpose of Your Product with a Design System

Design is increasingly becoming more complex. It's imperative for your team to have a shared design language to collaborate effectively. In this article, we discuss what to look for in a design system fit for your product and enhance team productivity. 

What Is A Design System And Why Do You Need It?

A tremendous amount of companies have been around for years, creating a systematic product. Maybe some variables fall on a design system, but many do not. A lot of companies will begin a new design system on top of this already broken process. The previous product is likely to have some inconsistencies, so it's best to start by analyzing existing interactions and collect all necessary elements from your product. AKA audit yourself!

The review can help you understand inconsistencies, probably more than imagined, and in return allow your team to introduce changes within the s

Change Done Right

Any change in the design process is only valuable if the people using it, adopt it correctly i.e. shared understanding. 

Begin the process by aligning your team around a set of shared goals. This will increase understanding of the overall mission, allow for checkpoints, and initial development of your new design system.

Next, decide who the users are and what are their needs and motivations --> this is how you drive conversions. Always take advantage of user-journey mapping to frame the visits on your site specifically. The product team SHOULD always value this when implementing the design system. Without proper stimulation, the user will default elsewhere. 

Design Principles 

Establish solid design principles from the beginning. It's important to keep these practical so your design team has an initial starting point. 

Qualities like simple and useful are a given, so let's go a little deeper. Instead of offering simple and vague values to a starting point, interchange your language. Use descriptive words that stimulate the brain to think beyond useful and concrete. These principles offer guidance on how to solve a design problem within the context of a particular product. 

In our previous blog about Increasing Conversions and Decreasing Decision Fatigue, we explain the concept of direction over choice. Too many options, values, and edits can overwhelm users AND your design team. Having only a few, guiding selections prompts the ability to focus on what's important - the design and content! 

Quick tip: Ask your team/company what your design principles are and see what they say. If they cannot remember, chances are they are not working. 

Having A Valuable Pattern

A pattern is a reusable solution that can be applied to multiple problems and work. Perhaps the most valuable and sought after aspect of a design system. Typically, they are shaped by the core idea of how a product works, which in return creates the initial language of your design system. 

Functional Patterns: Buttons, Icons, Textx fields, visual CTA's.

Perceptual Patterns: Emotional design, colors, typography, patterns, animation

Measuring Your Progress

Returning to the value of an audit comes from changes over time to see how the new design process has been effective.

  • Efficiency - How fast are patterns being integrated and new ones being introduced? If new components are constantly being added, then this is a sign that the design process is not flexible.
  • Consistency - Is every experience consistent? Analyze how each problem/variable was solved and if the design process was of value during that time. 
  • Accuracy - Was all this work worth it in the end? Are you able to allocate more time to actual content creation rather than fixing little problems?

Achieving a balance is the overall goal when it comes to the design process. It's vital to start a consistent process now before you get too far in to turn back.

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