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How I explain Design Systems to people

People: CEOs, parents, kids, cab drivers, random strangers and of course, your local Baker (you’ll see)

By now, I am sure we have come to understand the importance of Design Systems. They make design, development and product, consistent and efficient.

A Design System is a collection of reusable components and styles governed by clear standards.

All of them can be assembled together to build any number of products (and not only designs).

I won’t be surprised if you already know all of this.

But we’ll have to agree that there are still a lot of folks who are unaware of Design Systems (And they can be anyone, re-read Subtitle 👆)

So, this is how I explain Design Systems to people (and maybe you could too)


I would like you to meet Mr John McCake, the local superstar baker.

Mr John McCake, the baker

He is famous for ‘The Cake’. Locals say that he possesses some superpower and no one can bake it better than him.

The ‘The Cake’

Upon popular demand, he opens shop. And he names it (yeah, you guessed it right) ‘The Cake Shop.’

The Cake Shop Co.

The customers start coming in, and the business picks up. Things are good. People are happy.

John + Happy customers

After a few months of growth and success, John realises that he can’t service all of his customers by himself.

John + A lot of customers

So, he hires a new Baker to ease-up on the workload. Let’s call her Ms Mia Cupcake.

Meet Ms Mia Cupcake

After a bit of training, John and Mia become a dynamic duo. They are now able to service more customers faster.

The Dynamic Duo + Customers

Upon further growth, John hires two more Bakers.

The team now

But the team still face problems. Some customers leave because of too-much-waiting, while some criticise The Cake is not as good as it used to be. This could probably happen because every Baker is unique in their style or manner of baking.

Results can be different from the same recipe (if we look closely)

And John realises that hiring is not a scalable and sustainable option for his Business. So, after sessions of brainstorming, he decides to write The Cake Book (That is some lazy naming right there, I know)

The Cake Book

In this book, he wrote down:

  • A detailed recipe of The Cake
  • How he serves a Customer
  • How he runs the Business
  • Why he started the Business
  • And everything else, that can make him dispensable

Not only that, but he also stream-lines his production process. They move primarily to the batch-production approach.

Components of The Cake

After this rehaul, things are now smoother than ever.

Different people. Same results.

Another good news for the customers, The Cake Shop released their new line of products. Which, believe it or not, delivers on the same quality of experience.

Different products from the same place

And everyone is having delicious desserts now. All thanks to The Cake Shop team.


Now coming back to Design

When designing an app, website or any digital product, it is vital to building it for scale.

Producing only the components and style guides may not be enough. You may want to consider writing guidelines to facilitate their use and governance. Which, in turn, will help your team to understand, deliver and even evangelise the Design System.

And that’s how a Design System can help your organisation deliver consistent User Experience to your users. And remember the components library help produce designs whereas a full-blown Design System help create products.

Hello from The Super Team

I hope this blog will be helpful the next time you want to talk about Design Systems on someone’s birthday party (I wouldn’t do that if I were you).

Also, for the first time, I created the illustrations on Figma (yes, all of them.)

Want to read more of such amazing articles?

Then you may follow Cuddle’s Blog for more. See you next time.

Alternative Text Amit Das