How implementing Design Systems affects the end users, the product team, and our partners

We, humans, are creatures that love routines. We tend to build patterns in our lives. Even though you may aim to live outside your comfort zone, trying not to get caught up in the monotony of a routine is a routine in itself. Humans need that calm that comes with consistency to exist.

Any change in our routine creates fear and uncertainty which leads us to make mistakes.

This need for order can apply to any aspect of our daily lives, big or small. We always use the same mug for our coffee. We tend to always write with the same pencil. We prepare our food in the same order.

We need to build routines and patterns to keep our heads in place.

This aspect of human nature is reflected in our digital environment. Every day, each one of us is exposed to millions of stimuli when browsing the internet on our devices. In such a jungle, a user needs to have patterns. Patterns in this environment come from the repeated actions that don’t change throughout the web. As designers, our job is to help construct this expected experience.

That's why we create design systems: a sort of library that documents all the elements and behavior that a digital product uses to exist.

By repeating how elements in the same platform behave, the user can learn those patterns and understand the tool. The user can anticipate what a button will do or how to interact with a form. Catering to this need is how you build deeper relationships with your users/customers to not only keep them around, but turn them into advocates and referral sources.

But this is not only about the user. And this system is not just for designers.

By building a list of components that will be used across a digital platform, all the teams involved in the construction of that platform also get this calm, consistent experience. Together, they will create the resources needed for building components and be able to reuse them anywhere they are required. This not only impacts their performance, but also the investment of time and resources.

At Codelitt, we like to start every project by building a simple design system with a plan to scale it up as the project grows. Colors, fonts, grids, icons, or simple things like buttons or forms are always part of that library. This enables our engineers to anticipate how a component will react to the user interaction or what visual aspects the design will be showing. This makes the code reusable, clean, and preventive. It saves a ton of time and every single member of the team is aligned on how things work. By sharing common language and knowledge the quality of our output is extremely high - and it also affects the bottom line.

But how can a design system have a direct positive impact on the ROI of a project?

Having all the teams aligned, sharing a language, and understanding every component’s behavior will increase the efficiency of building the tool.

Design systems allow Project Managers to have a better overview of the size of a task. They help ensure resources are distributed efficiently and provide a more accurate estimation of the delivery time.

Designers multiply their speed of providing designs when there is a design system to support their work. They can create solutions at a much higher rate as they can reuse or adapt components to the needs of a user. A shared library makes the onboarding of extra design resources easier. With a design system in the background, the team only needs to focus on solving problems since the mechanism to provide the solution is already done. It saves time in the long-term and, therefore, money.

The engineering team also feels the positive impact of having a design system. They can code clean and organized components in all their variations beforehand. Both front-end and back-end devs are empowered to make a more informed estimate on implementation time. When they receive designs, they know the components that are in use and therefore  don’t need to worry about how a component should work. Everything is already defined. This makes the communication between designers and engineers much better and reduces the chance of making mistakes exponentially.

But it’s not only these internal teams at Codelitt that get to benefit from a design system. Our partners have the advantage of being able to optimize their own internal resources for a project which is completely aligned and consistent in its interaction and visual experience. The list of benefits doesn’t stop here.

When a partnership between a client and Codelitt ends, the client receives all the finished work including the design system. These deliverables enable the client to continue scaling with their own internal team if they so choose. Everything has been documented, you’ve got the keys, it’s ready to go.

While it may take time to set up initially, by and large our partners see the value in the early investment in building out a design system. It’s critical to improving project efficiency in the long term and its effectiveness can be easily tracked.

The question is, are you using one on your projects?

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