Design Systems

What is a design system?

A design system is a set of well-established, reusable components, or “building blocks,” that a design team uses to create digital products. Think of a design system as a starting point, a collection of guidelines, templates, and principles that allows a product designer to avoid rewriting the same initial framework at the start of every new product. 

You may also see a design system referred to as pattern library, modular design, design language, atomic design, user interface library, or component library. 

What components make up a design system?

A design system comprises guidelines, templates, and methodologies that can be reused and assembled to build a variety of digital products and experiences. 

An organization’s design system includes:

  • Shared values and goals 
  • Design principles
  • A style guide and design tokens — such as colors, typography, iconography, and illustrations 
  • Reusable design components and templates — such as HTML, CSS style sheets, UI components, software design patterns, and webpage layouts 
  • Best practices for product design
  • Accessibility standards and patterns

Why do you need a design system?

Adding a design system to your design process enables:

A better use of time and resources
A design system makes it easier and more efficient for teams to develop and redesign digital products at scale. When practitioners start the design cycle with a template, there is no need to start from scratch. This allows designers and front-end developers to tackle the bigger challenges. Although repetitive, the components of an effective design system are flexible enough to allow for clear distinctions between products. 

Consistent products that align with your brand
The components and templates in a design system are a single source of truth between the designers and engineers. With a design system, you can ensure that every project is structured, meaningful, and consistent with your brand. This consistency creates delightful digital experiences for your users and a more distinctive brand identity for your company.

More teamwork between practitioners
Using a design system eliminates barriers that may come up in the early stages of the design process. Product teams use the design system as a shared language between teams to ensure smooth collaboration at every stage of the product design process, from strategy, to design, to development. Additionally, having a defined set of design guidelines and templates makes the onboarding of new practitioners straightforward and efficient. 

From large companies, such as Airbnb, Apple, Salesforce, and Microsoft, to smaller organizations, brands use design systems to increase efficiency and continuity in their product design cycle.

How can Blink help?

With over 20 years of experience in UX research and design, we’ve created design systems for many leading organizations in a variety of industries. We will identify the pain points in your design workflow and work with you to create a system that is unique to your company’s brand, goals, and stakeholders.