Within design teams and organisations, the case for creating design systems is a compelling one. It’s worth remembering that design systems are not an end -in-and-of-themselves, they are a means to an end and a way to achieve certain outcomes. Different organisations will have different priorities, but based on our research there are some common driving forces behind investment in design systems.
A very popular case for design systems is that of consistency. The desire to have a cohesive feeling brand and experience across multiple products from the same company is brought to life by a shared design system that can be implemented and used by many teams. Often, the need for consistency is determined by an interface or UI audit that showcases the very different UI styles that exist across a brand’s product, for example all of the variations in button styles.
Efficiency is another favourite rationale for creating a design system. Reusable, repeatable components and patterns allow design and development teams to speed up their workflows. They also reduce duplication of effort, as interface elements do not need to be re-created from scratch every time. With the popularity of design sprint approaches, reusable UI component libraries also enable rapid prototyping.
Design systems can also enable smoother collaboration across an organisation. With a defined vision in place for the look, feel and experience of digital products, teams have a better sense of ‘what good looks like’ and can aim to meet an agreed-upon bar that has been collaboratively defined. Contributing back to the design system also allows people to be part of evolving their organisation's system. In this way, design systems can act as a trojan horse for shared vision and breaking down silos.