10 steps to build a Design System in your company

design system

Table of contents

  1. 1. Assess the current workflows and needs
  2. 2. Define clear goals and objectives
  3. 3. Build a cross-functional team
  4. 4. Create a governance model
  5. 5. Define the standards and guidelines
  6. 6. Conduct training and workshop
  7. 7. Implement and collect feedback
  8. 8. Encourage iterative improvement
  9. 9. Foster adoption
  10. 10. Evaluate and refine

Design Systems ensure a consistent and cohesive user experience across all the touch points. They also facilitate collaboration and communication across teams and departments. How to build it in your company? Check our step-by-step guide.

1. Assess the current workflows and needs

First of all, start with collecting input from designers, developers, product managers, and other stakeholders. Identify all the pain points and inconsistencies that you need to work on. Check if your team members have similar challenges and needs or if they face something completely different. Defining all these factors will be the starting point for building your Design System.

2. Define clear goals and objectives

If you have already collected information on the current state, you can define goals and objectives. Prepare the outline of desired outcomes and benefits you want to achieve by adopting the Design System. All of this will help you guide the implementation process and gain buy-in from stakeholders.

3. Build a cross-functional team

Forming a dedicated cross-functional team, responsible for driving the Design System implementation will be the next step. Remember to include representatives from design, development, product management, and other relevant disciplines. This team will collaborate and make decisions regarding the Design System structure, components, and all the guidelines.

4. Create a governance model

In the next step, create a governance model that defines the Design System’s roles, responsibilities, and decision-making processes. You have to determine who will be responsible for maintaining and evolving Design System over time. To ensure consistency, define clear guidelines for contributions, updates, and versioning. All of this makes your Design System up-to-date, adaptable, and aligned with the evolving needs of all the teams that are going to be using it.

5. Define the standards and guidelines

To maintain consistency, you have to establish standards and guidelines including visual styles, components, naming conventions, interaction patterns, accessibility, etc. All of these should represent the mission, vision, and values of your organization. It is a good practice to document these standards in a centralized repository. By providing this shared set of guidelines, you will enable all teams to produce work that aligns with the organization’s brand and design principles.

6. Conduct training and workshop

Creating a Design System is not enough. You also need to educate your cross-functional teams about it. Think about scheduling a training and workshop. This will give an opportunity to answer all the questions or concerns raised during the learning and adaptation process. It is also a way of building a company culture around the Design System. Training sessions play a vital role in facilitating the adoption and effective use of the Design System. It will also be a chance to exchange knowledge and insights.

7. Implement and collect feedback

After all these steps, you can start implementing Design System across projects and teams. Begin with a pilot project or a specific area where the Design System can bring immediate value. Then track the implementation process, collect feedback, and gradually expand the adoption to other teams and projects within your organization.

8. Encourage iterative improvement

Design Systems require ongoing improvement and maintenance. Remember that collecting feedback from all teams and users should be a continuous process. It will help you identify areas for refinement and enhancement. Iterating your Design System enables to make it relevant and adaptable for everyone. Encouraging the teams to provide suggestions for Design System is also a part of building a culture of continuous improvement.

9. Foster adoption

Active promotion of collaboration and adoption of the Design System among the teams is an essential part you can’t skip. You have to encourage them to use the components and follow the guidelines defined earlier. Provide ongoing support, resources, and channels for communication and collaboration to make sure that Design System is becoming an integral part of the organization’s workflow.

10. Evaluate and refine

Lastly, evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the Design System. Track key metrics and assess how the Design System has improved the efficiency, collaboration, and consistency of your workflows. Use this data to evaluate if the Design System is aligned with the evolving needs of the organization and if it really helps your teams.

By following these 10 steps, you can effectively implement a Design System for cross-functional teams, foster collaboration, consistency, and efficiency across the organization. However, remember that working on Design System is a constant iteration process. You have to treat it as any other product. Do the research, identify pain points, solve the problems, and make life of your users easier.

If you want to find out more about Design Systems watch the recording of our webinar.

The webinar was conducted by Marta Monterde Alonso, Head of Design at Torresburriel Estudio (Spain). The whole recording is available for members of the UX-PM Alumni Community. If you have completed at least one level of Certification, you can join here: I’M JOINING.

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