A Guide to Design System

A Guide to Design System

One of the challenges as your product scales is you work towards providing a standardized experience to your users. Your users start to expect certain ways that your product would behave even as you add new features to it.


In order to ensure a standardized experience is maintained even when you have multiple designers or developers working on the product, there needs to be a standard process and guidelines that can be followed. If a new designer joins your team and needs to work on a new feature – they can quickly understand the standard process & system and start delivering the experience expected by your users.


This is where Design System comes in to help you build the guideline that can be followed by developers and designers when building the product.


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One of the common misconceptions is that the:


  • The Design System is only for designers – the Style Guide
  • The Design System is only for developers – the Pattern Code Library


As we will learn in this post – a Design System is much more than that and plays a significant role in streamlining communication between developers and designers.


What is a Design System?


How can we deliver intuitive feelings and awareness of brand identity to users throughout the product? Having consistency and connection between elements helps users to understand and feel they are using the same brand.


The Design System is a unique guideline that follows the brand or company design style. Also, it sets minimum rules in order to maintain brand identity. It contains visual design elements as well as a pattern library that provides the standard of components that designers and developers use while they design and develop the product respectively.


The main goal of having the Design System is to increase the efficiency of the project, bring in standardization and maintain brand identity.


Why is the Design System important?

As the product grows, more designers and developers will be added to the team. As every new hire comes, new ideas, new patterns, new typography comes into play. This creates chaos. The system will help stop that chaos and confusion. It brings consistency and increases the speed of product development.


A Design System can be very useful for any organization big or small. Building a Design System takes time & effort, so here are some benefits:



When multiple designers work together on the same project or if a new designer is onboarded in the middle of the project, they may struggle to maintain consistency in the design. Standardized design elements and UI components are created which can be used consistently and repetitively across the platform.



Having a Design System, it helps the product scale effectively. With elements already approved, it is easy for the product design and development team to create new features and expand.



The design System acts as a single source of truth, that helps streamline communication between designers and developers.


Enhance User Experience

As an end-user of the product, the experience is very consistent throughout the product or products. As new features or new products get launched – the user is already familiar with the elements, patterns, themes of the product. This also helps reinforce the brand of the company – making it a double win!


What does a Design System consist of?

Before creating the actual design system, designers should ask themselves who will use it and how they will use it. Once they define the answer to those questions, they can start to consider where to start for the design system and what to put in it.


Design Principle

Building solid design principles are the foundation for building a design system. It helps capture what good design means to the company and helps the team make meaningful decisions based on these principles.


Style Guide

Style Guide includes typography, icons, colors, spacing, illustrations, tone and many more. Based on the style guide, users get a perspective of the brand. The Design System must define the standard on how to use each element. It should contain what to do and not do with elements and also how to combine elements together so that designers can accurately deliver the desired product experience.


Accessibility Guidelines

The Design System should clearly showcase the accessibility of the product. It should be able to define colour contrast, keyboard focus and navigation and screen readers effectively. Learn more about accessibility guidelines here.


UI Kit

UI Kit consists of UI elements that are like LEGO blocks. They are built once and reused throughout the product by the designer to create their design. In the Design System, their functional behaviour needs to be specified in order for the team to understand and use the elements effectively. They need to clearly state how the elements will look in different devices and screen sizes as well.


Master Control Library

Using the UI Kit, developers are able to add code and behaviour to each of the UI elements. Resulting in responsive and accessible code based components which can be reusable throughout the platform. These components are tested for functionality and WCAG requirements(using a screen reader), bringing in consistency and efficiency in the development team.



What Next


Idea Theorem is a Toronto based UI UX Agency. We create simple and usable products for web and mobile. Our human-centred design approach lets us understand your customers, identify their pain points & deliver solutions that enhance their experience with your brand. Contact Us if you have any questions and we will be happy to help you.