- Laurent Thiebault
If you're in the digital realm, you've probably heard of a Design System. It's a set of rules, components, and visual principles that standardize the appearance and the way products and services are designed and developed within a company.
However, for many decision-makers, understanding the importance of implementing a Design System in their company can be challenging. Therefore, in this article, I've compiled 6 key arguments to help you convince your peers and superiors of the added value that implementing a Design System can bring.
#1 Substantial gain in consistency 🌆
One of the main reasons companies choose to implement a Design System is to improve the consistency of their ecosystem. Consistency is crucial for providing a seamless user experience across all products and services of a company.
A Design System defines the rules for designing all products and services of the company. It includes elements such as colors, typography, images, icons, spacing, and UI patterns. This makes it the perfect tool to ensure that this consistency occurs! By having these defined elements in all company initiatives, the brand can be easily recognizable and consistent. Customers will be able to recognize the company's brand at a glance, which can enhance trust and loyalty.
By defining design standards and pre-defined visual components for all products and services of the company, it ensures that the user experience is consistent at every touchpoint. Whether it's in the mobile app, on the website, in emails, or on social media. Moreover, it can even extend to standardizing visual identity in print, packaging, physical products, and stores!
#2 Efficiency at its best 🚀
Since a Design System centralizes design decisions, designers & developers don't have to reinvent the wheel for every new product concerning basic elements provided by the Design System. This allows for a more efficient use of time and resources, as they can focus on the unique challenges of each product rather than spending time creating basic elements that need to be decided and centralized in one place.
In essence, at the consumer product level, this saved time can be invested in designing and producing high-value experiences for the user and the various features to be implemented within coherent journeys.
You're asked for ROI? Difficult to estimate because a Design System allows for indirect economies of scale, not direct revenue. However, it's common to hear that it saves 25% of time for teams and can also reduce time-to-market. Feel free to check out the Knapsack Design System ROI Calculator (and form your own opinion on the subject of return on investment by adapting it to your company 🙂).
Alone, we go quickly; together, we go far!
#3 A catalyst for collaboration 🤝
As a tool for collaboration, sharing, and confrontation between teams, a Design System brings invaluable value to your company by improving the quality of your work and facilitating communication between teams.
By defining standardized visual rules for your company, a Design System encourages collaboration between teams by allowing easy sharing of styles and elements.
When teams work together to implement and evolve a Design System, they can easily talk to each other, confront ideas, and share their thoughts to create final products of quality. This early collaboration avoids costly mistakes and delays that can occur when teams work in isolation.
Open Source software is a great example of collaboration that produces powerful tools because they are created by a community of developers worldwide working together to improve the source code. This real-time collaboration allows for identifying and fixing bugs more quickly, developing new features more efficiently, and improving the overall quality of the software. Why not implement this type of practice within your company? The Design System is a good playground for it 🙂
#4 Accessibility benefits ♿
A Design System can help you create more inclusive experiences for all users, including those who use assistive technologies.
Since basic elements are centralized in one place, considering different essential criteria will allow you to distribute these best practices on a large scale and benefit your consumer products.
Here are some examples of criteria you can consider in your Design System:
- Color contrast: Colors must have sufficient contrast to be readable by users with visual impairments.
- Font size: Fonts must be large enough to be easily read, even by users who use assistive technologies to enlarge the text.
- Alternative text on visually informative elements: Images and other non-text elements must have alternative descriptions for users using assistive technologies for screen reading.
- Dynamic interactions: Dynamic interactions such as dropdown menus must be accessible and usable without issues for users with specific needs.
- Behavior of focused elements: Elements in focus must be clearly identifiable for users using assistive technologies for navigation.
By implementing a Design System focused on accessibility, you can demonstrate your commitment to digital inclusion for all users through the standardization of UI elements for easy and intuitive use for people with specific needs. Moreover, it's also a legal obligation for many actors, you can find the scope here.
For further information on the subject, I recommend the excellent site on the General Accessibility Improvement Repository offered by the French government.
#5 Serving scalability 🪜
When your company is growing and facing significant changes, such as acquisitions, a pivot, or rebranding, a Design System can prove to be an extremely useful tool.
Indeed, when these events arise, maintaining a consistent user experience can be challenging. That's where the Design System comes in. By maintaining a consistent vision for colors, typography, buttons, forms, etc., it's easier to ensure a consistent user experience, even when significant changes are made to the company.
It's, therefore, your essential ally to adapt to the ever-changing challenges of the market and technology and face upcoming impactful structural changes!
#6 Natural attractiveness power 😍
By using a Design System, companies can attract new talents and retain existing ones by offering a stimulating and satisfying work environment.
On one hand, a Design System provides designers & developers with a clear structure for their work. The established rules offer guidance on how products should be designed, giving designers a sense of security and confidence in their work. At the same time, the design system allows enough freedom for designers to remain
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