When we pitched the idea of a modern design system to a meeting of company VPs, it went really well actually. We’re sort of taking a page from our engineering peers’ playbook: If tens of thousands of Microsoft engineers can work globally across hundreds of products, then there’s something we can learn here in terms of how to scale design.
That realization and framing is essentially truth and music to the ears of an engineering-heavy company. We have to become more efficient, more effective, and ensure the design system supports the company’s goals. There’s a cultural impact potential here that changes the way we work and helps us build better products in the future, together.
Internally, people at Microsoft are excited and committed to the evolution of design and coherence in a company a large product offering and global user base. We also realize that we have to build an open design system that enables us to work better together. So, we’re trying to build a foundation together — shared processes, fundamentals, and methodologies that build efficiency, simplicity, and coherence.
Externally, we have to ensure that the essence of our products is exactly what the user expects across every platform and context. The only way to scale these best-in-class experiences is to do it together, building a shared foundation that enables teams to focus on their product, product category, and brand expression. The design system gives them that foundation and lets everybody contribute to its evolution.
It’s about creating an open-source, open-ecosystem, open-design system internally that adds up to a better cross-platform product experience.