Design Systems: Beyond the Visuals

Beyond Design: Moving from Practice to Transformation 
April 14-17, 2020
Hilton Austin, TX

Design Systems: Beyond the Visuals

By: Amanda Caparelli
11/21/2019

What’s a design system anyway?

At surface level, design systems are seen as the streamlining of any given product’s stylistic choices. However, in taking a closer look, they are so much more than that. A design system is an interactive and consistently evolving process that is built by a company to uphold brand identity and create enhanced user experiences. Style guides and pattern libraries are just two of many elements within any given comprehensive design system, but it is important to note the differences between them. 

  • A style guide is a collection of consistent graphic styles including color, illustration, icons, animations, etc.
  • A pattern library is the source where all streamlined components or interactions live, such as reusable buttons or page layouts on a website.

It is important to note that a design system is more than just these visual presentations that the user is experiencing. How the user feels when interacting with a product is just as important to the development of a design system to strengthen brand identity and provide a more holistic design throughout. This can be accomplished by creating uniform voice and tone. How does your written – or verbal – communication convey how you want the customer to feel when using your products?

How will this approach benefit your company?

With the demand for providing quality customer experiences continually on the rise, companies must recognize this and react quickly through the creation of a smoother design experience and more user-centric, systemic methodology. But how can this add value to your company and brand?

  • Maintaining brand and product identity in today’s disruptive experience economy
  • Speeding up and streamlining the design process while collaborating more efficiently, saving both time and money
  • Creating a more seamless user experience with your product, both visually and communicatively, by eradicating any irregularities

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding and emphasizing the “why?” behind the design of any system is critical – it has to have structure and meaning to be truly effective
  • Creating a design system isn’t just perfecting the interface (style), but refining the feel and attitude of everything (voice and tone) all affects how your product comes across to the user
  • Viewing design systems as a comprehensive, and evolving, set of components and patterns that must all coincide is important to building that seamless experience