Design System for a company – fantasy or necessity?
We live in a world of change. That applies not only to us personally but also to companies because competition and the market force us to adapt every day. The extremely vivid example is the area of finance, or being more precise, banking. Who doesn’t have a bank account today?
How to keep up with changes?
Electronic banking is now a standard, and in the times of Covid-19, it is often the only channel of contact with the bank. Therefore, these institutions compete in improving their applications in terms of functionality, but also usability!
The entire staff of UX Designers works to make banking applications user-friendly and intuitive. Of course, this is not a one-time action. Fierce competition in the market inspires constant innovations in product offers. Besides, banks have to react quickly to changes in financial and legal regulations, which is another reason for development.
Therefore, mechanisms and tools are needed to react quickly and improve the process of continuous change. One of the solutions might be a well-thought-out and coherent Design System.
What is a Design System?
Suppose you work in the fintech industry and lead the marketing and development of electronic products. Design System is a source of comprehensive knowledge for you, your team, and subcontractors, or a comprehensive guide to product design.
It includes a library of UI components for designers, ready-to-use UI elements in a code for developers, and a collection of rules, restrictions, and best practices. The Design System helps you to maintain consistency, design faster, and communicate better because it describes all elements in detail, which eliminates misunderstandings or inconsistency.
What constitutes a Design System?
The approach to developing a coherent design system can vary. There are currently many good practices in this area on the market that can be a model. The most popular ones are Material Design used by Google, Atlassian Design System, or Carbon by IBM. All of them, although in a slightly different way, include:
- UI library for designers,
- Pre-built UI elements for developers,
- Styles – detailed identification of colors, fonts, shapes, icons, animations, sounds, illustrations, and other media,
- Principles, rules, and good practices for designing and programming
Some more methodical proponents, however, create a Design System based on the Atomic Design method. It arose around the idea that just as all matter in the universe is broken down into a finite system of atomic elements, all our interfaces – portals, simple websites, applications, or e-stores consist of the same HTML elements.
The Atomic Design method recommends dividing the work into five separate stages, as a result of which the document describing the interface Design System is more thoughtful and hierarchical. The five stages of atomic design are the following:
- Atoms – basic HTML elements such as styles, form names, buttons, and others that cannot be broken down further without losing their functionality.
- Molecules – simple groups of UI elements that function together as a unit. E.g., the form name, the search box, and the SEARCH button make up one molecule.
- Organisms – more complex UI components that consist of groups of molecules and/or atoms. The organisms form the interface sections. E.g., a header of each application or website, which may consist of a logo, menu, and CONTACT button, creates a classic organism.
- Templates – page-level objects that illustrate the layout and functions of components, focusing on the page structure.
- Pages – templates which are filled in with content like a copy, photos, and other media; they show what the user interface really looks like.
Atomic Design Principles were used by the Akveo team in 2019 to develop the Eva Design System. Its main advantage is high flexibility. Eva currently has two implementations – UI Kitten for mobile (React Native UI Library) and Nebular (Angular UI Library) for the web. Both solutions are open-source and free.
What are the benefits of a Design System?
There are many advantages of a design system, but the most important of them are the following:
- Consistency and quality – it facilitates the work of programmers, and it is a reference to quality confirmation.
- Short time-to-market – there is no need to create a UI library at the development stage because it is ready.
- Better cooperation and communication inside and outside a company – everyone knows the rules, principles, restrictions, and nothing is ambiguous.
- Greater UX awareness – the described elements and principles focus more on the user than on the visual side.
Want to keep up with constant changes, react quickly, and adapt your products while maintaining their consistency? Systematize the information that defines your brand. Create your own comprehensive design system, a design guide containing a set of rules, rules, constraints, and best practices. If your team does not have the time or competence, use the support of UX / UI specialists and you will find that the quality and efficiency of introducing your products to the market will increase significantly.