It’s a killer app — a common platform that scales for design, development, collaboration, knowledge and communication. We need it to do effective design at scale and respond to the needs of our customers and our products.
It’s really important to understand that design is a crucial business capability. We all feel the pressure to get things done faster and better. An actively managed design system helps us do that at the enterprise level while coping with the needs of our current digital world. In a large company, you need scale. But you don’t necessarily scale design by bringing on more designers — you scale with systems.
One way to visualise the role of an enterprise design system is to think about all the standardisation in an automobile assembly line. As designers, we need standard components that are created, assembled and delivered in a really prescribed manner. But cars also need stylistic variations — sedans, minivans, pickups, SUVs — to suit different customer needs. Similarly, we have to systematise design to get really efficient, consistent production while enabling variation within that system.