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why you want a design system in your workflow


A design system. It might sound a bit technical, right? But make no mistake. It's not just a series of rules and components. It is the compass of your design process. Just like a conductor leads an orchestra, a design system controls how and what you design. Are you designing without a system? Then it will be quite a chaos.

why a design system is valuable to your workflow

Before we take you into all the vicious details, let's first fix something: a design system is not the same as a visual identity or brand book. Where a visual identity and brand book focus on how things look, a design system is a set of guidelines and components. A design system controls the process of design and development. It's the blueprint that helps build and maintain all your digital products. And that guides every component that ultimately pushes you into the world. From the smallest buttons to a fully developed screen.

When developing a new visual identity, it's just as important to spend time on your design system. That's why you ultimately design components and explain how and why you use them. That is the heart of your design system.

how a design system boosts your organization

A design system is a really worthwhile investment. Whether you're part of a small start-up or a large multinational company. The goal is simple: in addition to a consistent visual identity, you significantly increase your efficiency. And its impact is huge.

You work more efficiently

With a design system, designers, developers, marketers and other stakeholders speak the same language. This promotes collaboration and communication, leading to a more efficient workflow. And the best part: creating expressions, landing pages or adding visuals will be fixed in no time. That makes scaling up a bit easier again.

It is common to see a reduction of up to 35% in development costs when you use a design system.

You focus on solving problems that matter

With a design system, designers and developers have reusable components that have been tested and approved in practice. That's why a central framework saves you time (plus discussions) and money. This, in turn, can be invested directly in improving the user experience (UX).

the building blocks of a design system

So it sometimes happens that some people confuse a design system and a brand book. Not crazy either. Because both are indeed focused on following design rules. But rrrrrr: there is a clear difference.

One brandbook is mainly focused on the brand. Colors, fonts, typography, and applications are discussed as discussed. A design system includes that and more. What exactly is in it? That depends on the context. However, it often consists of the following:

  • Brandbook: ensures consistency in visual expression, such as color and font.
  • Icon library: includes your system's visual symbols.
  • Component library: also known as UI kits, with reusable elements.
  • Pattern library: help provide consistent user experiences.
  • Brand values: influence decisions in design and content.
  • Design principles: focused on coordinating the use of your system.
  • Content guidelines: for consistent tone of voice and grammar.
  • Accessability guidelines: essential for inclusivity. Think about font sizes and contrast.
  • Design tokens: represent coded values such as space, color, and typography.

the technology behind a design system

When building a design system, the choice of your tool is decisive. You are not bound to a single method. There are many tools for designers, marketers, and developers. Each one has its own taste. And yes, they often vary by group. This is how we use these tools in our projects:

  • Figma for designers. This is where the creative work happens. It enables them to work efficiently with an extensive library of components. This promotes collaboration and creativity in the design process.
  • Webflow for marketers and developers. Webflow gives you the ability to work quickly with components. These components can be directly integrated into websites, promoting a smooth transition from design to development. And thus significantly reduced your time-to-market or setting up new landing pages.

when do you need a design system?

For a small marketing website, it is sometimes not necessary to have a design system. A more practical approach is to then develop a component library or brand book. This is not only useful for now, but also for the future. Because do you remember what you ate last Thursday? Exactly. Let alone if you applied undocumented rules to your designs six months ago.

If there is a bell ringing when checking the points below, it can be a smart move to set up a design system:

  • Unity in appearance: your products must look and function consistently. A design system ensures unity.
  • Recurring functionality: do you often use the same features in your website or application? A design system helps to keep these functions standardized and recognisable.
  • Making more impact: you don't want to do the same job over and over again for different media. A design system saves time and effort, allowing you to move forward faster.
  • Recurring design errors: if you often run into the same issues, a design system offers a structured solution.
  • Consistency for designers: we (and designers) want their work to always be “on-brand”. A design system provides clear guidelines.
  • Shorter time-to-market: organizations that want to bring their products to market faster benefit from the efficiency that a design system offers.
  • Style or functionality discussions: is there often a discussion about style or functionality? A design system sets clear standards and reduces discussions.

examples of design systems

our experience with design systems

A design system is always part of our projects. Sometimes very minimal, sometimes quite sophisticated. Anyway: we always use it in our work and deliverables, so that the end product is built as sustainably as possible. Very efficient, we like it as you sometimes hear Jeroen say.

helping your organization move forward with a design system?