Topic Design Systems

Design systems

A design system is a great tool for bringing consistency to all of your brand's design outputs; particularly for organisations that are designing at scale, for multiple mediums and with teams that need to collaborate regularly.

What is a design system?

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A single source of design truth

A design system is a consolidation of an organisation’s visual identity, strategy, brand values, purpose and audiences into shared practices, principles, design patterns, templates, themes and end products such as websites and printed media.

It acts as the single source of truth for everything a brand will deliver visually, and otherwise. It's a playbook for how a brand and strategy translates into real-world assets.

It is constantly evolving, a living thing, and as such is never ‘finished’. As an organisation or brand grows, the number of outputs to maintain grows, and the design system grows along with them.

Design system benefits

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They're not for everyone

One of the major benefits of implementing a design system is increasing the speed of design and, by extension, reducing the overhead involved in repeating tasks.

Therefore, for smaller organisations and brands with very few design outputs, the benefit of using a design system is often negated by the cost of implementation.

But, organisations with an array of different design outputs, both online and offline, benefit hugely.

Design system examples:

Co-op Experience Library
BBC GEL
Atlassian Design System

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Reap the benefits

A design system will improve the visual consistency across a brand's outputs, from stationery to physical signage to websites and online applications. Consistency is also achieved in the standards that all design adheres to, like accessibility and tone of voice.

As it removes the need to repeat the basics, a design system can also reduce the cost of creating new design outputs or maintaining existing ones.

More about the benefits of design systems

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