Why Every Company Needs a Design System

For organizations with large, global teams building a system of reference for design and development is critical in order to ensure brand integrity across channels, apps, and devices. And, there’s a good reason too.

Great design isn’t just pleasant on the eyes, it’s good for business. According to Kinesis Inc., 94 percent of a user’s first impressions of a company are design-related and 75 percent of those same users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on website design. Meaning, good design is a key differentiator and competitive advantage for companies that can master it. And, if consistency is credibility, then one key to success is ensuring your company has a foundation in place that can support and scale consistent design guidelines and processes across your organization to improve UX and deepen consumer trust.

Enter: Design Systems.

For those that are unfamiliar with the concept, a design system is a library of reusable components with clear documentation that can be configured and leveraged by front-end developers and designers to build applications and digital experiences.

Put another way, a design system acts as a single source of truth for an organization and should continually evolve to house all design elements like typography, brand colors, icons, layouts, and more. This can then be used as a framework for any project ensuring that all components are up to date and meet brand standards.

Companies like Hubspot, Dropbox, and Airbnb (to name a few) have already invested in them, but these systems can be beneficial for a company of any size.

So with that, let’s explore five reasons why every company should build a design system (plus, how Ionic can help).

1. Achieve UX Quality & Consistency

According to UXPin’s Enterprise UX Industry Report, design consistency is the greatest challenge for product teams today alongside other top challenges such as clarifying requirements and collaborating between teams—Challenges that all can be addressed with a design system.

The same report also shares that once a company is larger than 25 employees, improving UX consistency becomes the top challenge, ultimately leading to expensive design debt. And, in most organizations where developers outnumber designers, this can be a difficult gap to close.

When you leverage a design system within your company, you get built-in consistency through a single source of truth with tried and tested components that can be applied to any project. This significantly improves the product development process by scaling design across an organization and ensuring improved UX, UI, and product delivery.

2. Better Team Collaboration

Whether you have someone new to your organization or are simply trying to get multiple teams on the same page, a design system can help. By maintaining a centralized design repository and extensive guidelines in one system, developers, designers, product managers, and new teammates can improve their knowledge-sharing and can easily reference the most current source of information to ensure consistency across projects. When you invest time upfront to build out a design system and keep it updated, you’re also investing in improved cross-departmental collaboration, alignment across your organization, enhancement of employees’ knowledge, and a deepened understanding of your brand.

3. Accelerate Development Efficiency

If it hasn’t been made clear yet, a design system different than a set of specs developers use on projects. What differentiates a design system from just a set of guidelines is that it’s dynamic and modular. The fact that the system is updated continuously by designers and developers means that it easily supports agile methodology, helping improve development efficiency for teams.

With a complete design system in place, developers can spend less time searching for the “right component” or coding tedious design elements and instead spend their time on improving a product, shipping updates, or building something brand new.

When you integrate a design system with what you’re building, design updates that once sat in a backlog can now be easily applied to all products. For example, maybe you need to change the color of a button across different versions of your app—If you make the necessary change in your design system and push it to the projects associated, there’s no need waste devs’ time manually coding a new button color for each channel or device.

Good design is like a refrigerator—when it works, no one notices, but when it doesn’t, it sure stinks

Irene Au, UX expert

4. Reduce Costs & Errors

No matter the size of your company, the hope is that if it’s successful, growth is imminent. For organizations that are already large or experiencing growth, scaling design and dev processes can become quite complicated.

Whether it’s implementing a new component to your app, rewriting code logic, or mocking up a new design, contributing to any of these processes requires a lot of back and forth between different team members and departments. Without a design system, developers and designers are often left spending a lot of valuable time communicating, and sometimes miscommunicating, about different aspects of a project: Is this the current version of the logo? What’s the HEX code for our nav bar? Is this the right button style for our app? And so on, are examples of tedious questions repeatedly asked across teams.

This is an inefficient way of working and can increase room for error and, in turn, costs for a business. According to Drew Loomer, a Managing Architect at projekt202, employing a design system can eliminate code redundancy, saving more than 20 percent of a developer’s time. He emphasizes this point writing, “If you had a team of 100 developers this could mean a savings of $2M per year.”

That’s a significant amount of cost reduction with the added reduction of errors to boot!

5. Improve Time to Market

For companies without a design system, it can be common for both designers and developers to sift through a number of components and elements to choose the right variant of say, a button or color, to apply to their projects.

By implementing a design system, you can eliminate the repetitive tasks for both teams and free up employees to work on innovative ideas to move a project forward. A set of reusable assets in a single library also reduces time spent by developers who previously would have had to code each asset for every project. This then leads to the ability to iterate and ship updates faster, which improves the overall time to market for organizations.

How Ionic Can Help

It’s clear that no matter the size of your company, a design system is a new approach that can help improve many areas of a business. From faster delivery times to better UX, to more collaborative teams, it’s hard to see a downside in adopting this type of system.

Curious how Ionic can help? Check out some more additional resources on this subject to learn more:

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