The importance of design systems cannot be denied. They serve as the groundwork for consistent and efficient product development, ensuring a smooth user experience across different parts of a project.
We've comprehensively discussed the design system in this article, beginning with what it is, why it's important, and how to build one. Additionally, we've explored how several countries around the world have implemented government design systems to enhance the citizen experience.
However, creating a design system is just the beginning of the journey. The real challenge lies in implementing it effectively and fostering its adoption throughout your organization.
People are creatures of habit, and breaking away from familiar workflows can be a significant challenge. For example, a designer skilled in using a particular UI kit in Figma may require extra time to adjust when introduced to a new component library UI kit due to the need to learn its structure and elements.
Time constraints are a common obstacle in the adoption of a design system. Teams may find it challenging to allocate time for learning and integrating a new system into their workflow, especially when they are working on tight project deadlines.
A design system is not a one-time creation but requires continuous maintenance to remain relevant and effective. Neglecting maintenance can lead to outdated components and guidelines, which can result in inconsistencies and decreased usability over time.
Inconsistencies can arise when different teams or individuals within an organization interpret and apply the design system differently. This can lead to a fragmented user experience and undermine the benefits of having a design system in the first place.
To kickstart your design system journey, it's essential to gain support from your organization's leadership. Their backing not only provides resources but also demonstrates the strategic importance of the design system.
For instance, if the CEO publicly endorses the design system, it sends a strong signal to the entire company that this initiative is a priority. Frequently, the problem arises when companies see the design system as a side project, which tells people in the company that it's not a big deal.
To create a more structured approach to your design system project, consider forming a dedicated team responsible for its development, upkeep, and promotion.
This step elevates the project's importance beyond being seen as a mere side project. This team ensures the system's ongoing development and also advocates it to the other people in the company.
Every design system needs clear documents that are easy to understand. User-friendly design makes it more likely for team members to use it.
So, ensure components in the design system are easy to find and use simple, clear names and descriptions for properties. These factors significantly affect whether people will use the design system or not.
When welcoming new employees to your organization, it's beneficial to include a straightforward educational process as part of their onboarding. This means that right from day one, they'll know the design system exists and how to use it.
For instance, you can make a step-by-step guide and a checklist for new team members to follow when they start using the design system for their projects.
Actively promote the design system by providing training sessions and workshops. Allocate specific time for team members to learn and practice using the system.
Continuously seek feedback from teams using the design system. This feedback loop helps identify pain points, areas for improvement, and ensures that the system remains aligned with evolving needs.
You may create a dedicated channel or forum where team members can submit feedback and suggestions, and regularly review and address these.
Keep all stakeholders informed about any changes or updates to the design system. Transparency helps maintain trust and ensures everyone is on the same page.
Implement metrics to track the adoption of the design system within your organization. This quantifiable data can demonstrate the system's impact and identify areas that need improvement.
For example, you can measure the percentage of projects using the design system and track how it has reduced design and development time.
Building a design system can be quite a task, and it takes both time and effort. But here's the thing – even after all that hard work, there's no guarantee that everyone in the company, including developers, product managers, and designers, will hop on board. That's why it's not just about creating the design system; it's also about ensuring that everyone in the team actually uses it.
Think of it like marketing other digital tools – you need to actively promote it. Explain how it's helpful, how it can solve their problems, and why they should give it a try. Essentially, it's a bit like marketing a product within your own company.