How a Design System can make designers and developers work together better

Most developers and designers use some form of design system, whether that’s a sketch library, design tokens, or a style guide. When optimized, design systems can make your work and especially collaborative process a lot easier and lead to a better quality product. A Design System is a story of how your organization builds its products. The base upon which everything else grows.

For designers, a design system means a sketch library or brand guidelines; something to anchor creativity. For developers, it’s more likely to mean coding standards and documentation that guide precise work. A comprehensive design system not only describes the product but the process of how it comes to life. It can be as rigid or flexible as you need it to be—as long as it suits your product and unique style of work. Dynamic systems improve cohesion and productivity, make testing easier, and serve as a future-friendly foundation for your work to flourish. When a design system stops being a static document, you’ll see improved quality in your products.

Setting up a design system is one thing, but maintaining it as an active part of your workflow is another.

This as a common challenge that many people experience. So how do you make sure it stays up to date? To keep with industry best practices and real-world performance, design systems need to be current. To this end, design system users can propose changes by adding, removing, or modifying as needed. For every type of change, there should be a plan in place. When adding new patterns, check if you can re-use another generic pattern that exists. The process for removal is similar; when patterns are rarely utilized, ask why. Make sure you establish a plan for removing patterns and suggesting alternatives.

The key here is to make sure that your team is on board with the dynamic nature of the process. A tailored, collectively-understood design system will bridge the work of designers and developers. And this can’t help but improve your product.

Learn more with the Design Systems Handbook or check out these awesome examples.

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