Many sites evolve over a period of years with organisations intermittently bolting on new functionality. The problem becomes even worse as the site grows.
Once the site reaches a certain size, control becomes harder. Different content contributors add to the site with little coordination. Rolling out new designs becomes hard on such an extensive website and so is done piecemeal over time. The result is a fractured user experience.
If that is your experience, it is time to bring order to the chaos with a design system.
What Is a Design System?
A design system consists of four elements that help manage larger websites. These are:
- A Set of Components. These are sometimes known as a pattern library, reusable UI elements and associated code that brings consistency to your website.
- Design Principles. A set of guidelines that define how your organisation approaches designing online experiences. They are a framework for decision making.
- Content Style Guide. A set of guidelines for content creators which help ensure consistency in the tone of voice across your website.
- A Service Manual. Documentation that covers digital governance and how you manage your digital projects.
How I Create a Design System for You
Building a design system does not need to happen in one go. I usually create each of the elements outlined above independently in the order I have described.
The first step in the journey is usually an audit of the existing sites. That involves identifying all the different stylings that exist and the different tones of voice.
Following that, I create a set of reusable UI components and the beginnings of a content style guide.
The creation of service manuals and design principles usually start with workshopping exercises to gain consensus on a future approach. Following that, a draft can be produced and sold to the rest of the organisation.
If that sounds of interest, get in touch.