Consistency in branding helps maintain user focus and makes your brand recognizable among multiple platforms. Using a design system can help you get there. It is not an accident that design systems are being implemented to unify brand image and provide a standard which streamlines workflow. Learn what makes this technique popular and how to take advantage of the benefits. 

A design system refers to a set of standards developed to provide a consistent user experience. This includes typography, color schemes, layout; all design elements that a user interacts with when using a product or service. 

What can a design system do for you?

Offers Consistency

 One of the easiest ways to be recognized by your audience is to be consistent. This is as true in design as it is in any element of your business. When your customer recognizes your brand whether browsing your website, reading your product label, or watching your social media content, consistency across the board will help maintain the trust and credibility of your brand.

Increases Efficiency 

When design teams are able to use the same elements for each platform, valuable time is saved. By reducing the amount of time teams would spend on creating new designs, effort can be put into other areas. When all teams are using the same design system, they are able to work collaboratively because everyone is aware of the design standards. 

Affords Scalability 

When design components are standardized, they can be used repeatedly and products and services can be scaled easily. With a few adjustments here and there designs can be adapted to suit a variety of products and services.  

Provides cost efficiency

Less time spent building designs means production is streamlined. When your app requires a new feature, the design will already be created. If your social media team already has your design created, they merely need to add it to their content, instead of spending time filling out design requests.  

Allows for Accessibility

When all departments are following the same guidelines for accessibility among multiple platforms, ensuring all users have access to your products and services will be embedded in your standards. 

What does a design system look like in action? 

A typical design system consists of visual elements and those who design and manage the system. It can be divided into three groups. The style guide, component library, and pattern library are all working together to present a cohesive visual message to your audience.   

The style guide is often brand focused. It includes elements such as typography, font, and color scheme. The color of your logo and the personality of your brand are key elements of the style guide. This may also include elements such as tone of voice and front-end style guides.  

The component library refers to interactive elements seen in the user interface. Banners and buttons are common examples.  When users see the same design of a linking button, for instance, they will know exactly where it leads due to consistency in design. When filling out forms, the design should be familiar to users and consistent among platforms.

The pattern library is where all of the elements come together and function. It is the glue that holds everything together and the patterns that provide the cohesion. The components that make up the pattern library can be developed for a consistent user experience across platforms. Still unsure? Check out this example from designer Natasha Hockey.   

Design systems will vary depending on needs and requirements. If you already have a design system in place, it may only need adapting. Without an existing system, consider some of the numerous open-source systems such as Google’s Material Design or Figma. Think of these as ready made design systems. 

The benefits of implementing a design system are sure to elevate your brand providing users with a cohesive experience across platforms.    

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