Why do well-known companies like Lonely Planet, Airbnb, and Apple have design systems? What distinguishes brands that use design systems from those that do not?
Pay little attention to the user interfaces the next time you visit one of their websites or use one of their apps. You will notice similarities between them and see that they share the same ethos. Your user experience is vastly improved because you are directed to exactly what you seek.
First, let’s clarify the concept in detail; what exactly is a design system guideline?
A design system is a collection of all design resources that a product design company stores so that they can create the user interface of their app, website, eCommerce store, or any other UI design they need to create.
To know better, you can have a peek at Google Material Design System. They included everything a design system should have! Such as Starter Kits, Design Source Files, Material Theming, Layout, Typography, Color, Components, and Mobile Guidelines.
In simpler terms, it is a collection of reusable user experience patterns and brand style guides that are later incorporated into software applications or websites as contextualizable software components.
Design systems include all front-end code, documentation, design guidelines, relevant plugins, design patterns, style guides, reusable components, rules and guidelines, and other useful building blocks for web design and development workflow.
A design system may include voice and tone guidelines for writing content, page templates, and user flows. It is made to fit each organization’s application domain and usage context. It shows how design and development work together in a strategic way.
And according to Elizabeth from Designer Up:
“Beyond creating and implementing designs, systems are tremendous untapped resources for better user experiences and interfaces just by studying them”
The modern design system consists of 3 parts :
Most designers are familiar with what these components mean. But if you are a newbie, here’s what they mean:
A style guide is a document that tells you how to use a brand’s graphic style, colors, fonts, icons, images, and principles. It also has rules about how to use its graphic style, colors, fonts, iconography, images, and principles. Style guides answer the questions “What should something look like?” and “Where should it be used?”
A pattern library is a collection of components that designers use to address usability issues; a navbar may include a logo, links, a search bar, and a call-to-action button. This library contains patterns for both molecules and organisms. User interface (UI) patterns can be found in a design system’s pattern library.
A component library is a library of user interface elements that can be used with a given design framework. Atomic component library; a component is a modular piece of code that can function independently or as part of different UI patterns; for instance, a button.
As you can see from the explanations, the difference between a pattern library and a component library is the difference in atomics methodology, so what each of the components means are given below:
Atoms are the building blocks of design that can’t be broken down any further. Buttons, icons, forms, and so on are all examples.
Molecules are made by combining atoms to make more significant UI components or patterns like navigation, breadcrumbs, etc.
Organisms are complicated user interface patterns made up of atoms and molecules. These patterns shape the user interface with cards, navigation bars, logos, search fields, and so on.
Templates Full layouts and wireframes that include atoms, molecules, and organisms. A template starts to look like pieces of a website or app.
A page lets you see everything on one screen.
Now that you understand what these terms mean and how they interact let’s take a quick look at how to create a design system.
Identify your project’s goals and make sure every team member knows them. Implement team values to foster a shared mindset. Make sure to communicate changes to goals and values.
Establish design principles because they are the roadmap that helps teams realize the product’s true potential. Teams can simplify and streamline the product’s design without sacrificing functionality or aesthetics.
Note all the edit regulations. It should include language tone and voice, specific words to highlight across all products and marketing materials, and capitalization and punctuation guidelines. These ensure all company communications convey brand-consistent messages.
List all the design patterns currently used in your interface, and note any inconsistencies you find. It should include all the elements, components, annotations, modules, and layouts.
In a color palette, the number of colors and their tones must be specified with sufficient precision. Developers and designers should be able to refer to the system’s defined colors easily and be accessible to all stakeholders. Creating a consistent color scheme, reducing the number of user variables, and eliminating unused duplicates appeared to be a quick win.
You can do this by optimizing it to fit in with the existing styles or creating a harmonious scale by using the golden ratio or major second. When constructing the scale, keep in mind that you are setting not only the font size but also weight, line height, and other properties.
Select which icons from the UI library will be implemented consistently, and make that your standard.
This is a never-ending project. Patterns should always reflect either the truth about the product or its aspirational state in the near future.
Having a style guide comes with a number of benefits, including the following:
It helps maintain a consistent visual consistency throughout the entirety of your product and brand. This contributes to the development of a trustworthy relationship with your users or audience.
If you have a style guide for your brand, it will help with the easy onboarding of new designers or team members and make it simpler for them to participate in or make design decisions.
In addition to specs of UI components, guidelines also describe best practices. It makes it easier for a reader to decide the right choice.
Defects and testing will be reduced as the design system and user interface controls become more widely implemented across various applications and teams over extended periods.
A design system ensures that the entire organization speaks the same language. Since all team members are referring to the same source, team communication is enhanced. There is no need to spend time debating a component’s functionality and arriving at a solution.
The secret to enhancing your products is Reiteration. Having a design system in place makes it simple to update it in accordance with new standards and fashions. The teams can always talk about how to include new elements, define new rules, and improve the usability and comprehension of a design system for users.
When multiple people are contributing to your brand’s content development, it can be challenging to maintain a consistent, recognizable, and ownable brand identity without a style guide. Spending the time and energy necessary to create a comprehensive and accurate style guide is essential for protecting the business’s image.
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