Advantages of a Tech Design System and 3 Steps to Get Started

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A designer’s job at Cohesion can take many forms, including designing new technology platform features, improving user experiences, or creating graphics for the marketing team. As we look at 2022 and the importance of design at Cohesion, we are focused on design strategy and how to build cohesive components across the platform for a greater user experience. Achieving this requires a great level of collaboration within teams and departments, along with agility toward future opportunities while remaining scalable to improvements.

With this in the back of our minds, we created a Cohesion design system we call “Blueprint,” an ode to the buildings and their architects, who design and plan the buildings we wrap with our technology.

What is a Design System? 

Design Systems can take many forms, from the simple style guide that organizes design and engineering components into a single document, to complex guidelines like Google material or IBM’s Carbon. A design system should consider what it’s being used for and unify the design and engineering decisions into a single source of truth. Design systems often include guiding principles, such as brand guidelines, voice, tone, colors, typography, logo and design patterns.

Our Strategy for Making a Design System

Rather than just collecting our existing design components and organizing them into a single document and calling it complete, we include many different departments at Cohesion. At the end of the day, this design system is only helpful if used by both designers and engineers with an outcome of an excellent user experience.

Here are three steps we took that you can also follow to build a design system.

  1. Create a North Star By creating a vision for where you want the platform to go, you can have a guide to audit your decisions or options against. Something that you can refer to and say, “We all agreed on this vision: Does this new design or feature fit with those agreed principles?”
  2. Design and Engineering, Together  A sound design system should be the perfect meeting point between design and engineering (and other relevant departments). Take steps in each stage to not only include both design and engineering in all discussions, but to make it a joint venture between them. By using the same design token language, components and layouts, departments have a better understanding of expectations.
  3. Startup Flexibility We understand that one of the strengths of being a startup is the flexibility and the ability to quickly change directions. Great design systems are built to evolve with the company, whether it’s a start up or not. It’s best not to begin with a comprehensive, rigid set of rules that might be outdated in six months. You need to allow the design system time to grow and evolve through fine-tuning as you put it into practice. By embracing a startup-like flexibility, you can grow and evolve the design system as you grow and evolve your company.

Stay tuned for more updates as we take a journey into “Blueprint.”

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