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.
He is famous for ‘The Cake’. Locals say that he possesses some superpower and no one can bake it better than him.
Upon popular demand, he opens shop. And he names it (yeah, you guessed it right) ‘The Cake Shop.’
The customers start coming in, and the business picks up. Things are good. People are happy.
After a few months of growth and success, John realises that he can’t service all of his customers by himself.
So, he hires a new Baker to ease-up on the workload. Let’s call her Ms Mia Cupcake.
After a bit of training, John and Mia become a dynamic duo. They are now able to service more customers faster.
Upon further growth, John hires two more Bakers.
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.
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)
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.
After this rehaul, things are now smoother than ever.
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.
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.
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.)
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