Why you would benefit from integrating a design system into your workflow

First of all, it's essential to clarify that a design system is distinct from a visual identity. While the latter focuses on the outward appearance, the former is a comprehensive set of guidelines and components that govern the entire design and development process. When developing a new visual identity equal time should be spent on proofing the digital design system. Components and documentation explaining how a company uses them — and why — makes up a design system.

How a design system could benefit your business

If you're in the midst of contemplating the development of a design system, it's crucial to understand the vast benefits and reasons behind such an investment. Design systems aren't exclusive to large corporations; they hold relevance for companies of all sizes, from fledgling startups to Fortune 500 giants. The overarching goal of a design system is to enhance efficiency and maintain a cohesive visual identity. The impact of a design system is far-reaching. Not only does it streamline the design process, but it also ripples down to the technical implementation phase, resulting in significant cost reductions. It's not uncommon to witness a noteworthy 30-35% decrease in tech-related expenses once a well-established design system is in place. This efficiency gain stems from the initial investment made upstream, ensuring that design decisions seamlessly translate into cost-effective tech implementation.

“It's not uncommon to witness a 30-35% decrease in tech-related expenses once a well-established design system is in place.”

The following encapsulates a concise overview of the common components found in a design system, with the realisation that not all may be necessary depending on the organisation type. Regardless of complexity, the aim is always to have one source of truth.

Brand Style Guide

Offering an overview of the look and feel, this guide ensures visual expression consistency, covering elements such as color, font handling, and imagery.

Icon Library

Contains the visual symbols of the design system. Often together with usage guidelines.

Component Libraries

Also known as UI-kits, these repositories house reusable components spanning badges, icons, page layouts, and tags, tailored to specific UI or interaction needs.

Pattern Libraries

Components are used to provide consistent user experiences, the combination of these are called patterns and act as guidance when combing components.

Brand Values

The values of the brand act as an alignment tool for the design teams. The values influence both content and design decisions but also the overall feeling when interacting with the brand.

Design principles

Focuses on creating alignment when using the design system, more product and experience oriented than the brand values.

Content Guidelines

Of course a design systems aims for an overall consistent visual look, but another objective is of course that we speak consistently. Content guidelines cover tone of voice and grammar.

Accessibility Guidelines

In todays digital landscape its becoming more and more important to be inclusive and adhere to various laws and accessibility standards. Creating internal guidelines regarding the use of colour, font sizes, maintaining target sizes for touch screens, and so much more is crucial for setting the standard for your future accessibility goals.

Design tokens

Are names used to represent hard-coded values for spacing, color, typography, and other parts of a design system.

Advantages of a design system in e-commerce 

In the dynamic landscape of e-commerce, a design system stands as an indispensable asset, offering a multitude of benefits. By ensuring a consistent visual identity across diverse elements and touchpoints — spanning pages, features, components, and even thank-you emails — it plays a important role in building trust and providing users with a seamless experience. 

Cross-functional teams comprising designers, developers, project managers, SoMe-agencies and stakeholders find a unified language and reference point in the design system. This not only fosters collaboration but also enhances communication among these diverse teams, facilitating a more streamlined and efficient workflow.

The advantages of a design system become particularly evident in the realm of faster prototyping and iteration. In the ever-evolving e-commerce environment, where trends change rapidly, the ability to adapt quickly is paramount. A well-implemented design system proves to be a strategic asset in meeting and exceeding customer expectations while navigating the dynamic trends of the industry.

From a design perspective, experiments have demonstrated the substantial impact of implementing design systems. Results indicate a remarkable 30-50% reduction in the time spent on design tasks. Figma, a prominent design collaboration platform, conducted research reinforcing these findings, revealing that designers can be up to 34% more efficient when working within a well-executed design system. In essence, a thoughtfully implemented design system isn't just a tool; it's a strategic investment that pays dividends in terms of both time and creativity.

In our projects at Grebban design systems always play an important role and are always a part of our final delivery. If you want to discuss how a design system could benefit your company please don’t hesitate to contact us!

PublishedbyPer Jörnlöv per@grebban.com

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