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Digital Design Systems enable stronger collaboration.
Design systems have emerged as a powerful tool for companies to create cohesive and consistent user experiences across products and platforms. The benefits of design systems go beyond improving design efficiency; they can significantly impact collaboration across different product teams and stakeholders.
Design systems have been on every digital product manager’s lips in recent years and with good reason. By using design system components for all mundane tasks, such as designing buttons and forms, designers and developers can focus on more challenging problems while ensuring consistent and on-brand designs.
However, one overlooked benefit of design systems is stronger collaboration.
Collaboration is a vital part of success in any organization, regardless of size. Strong collaboration in product design and development teams ensures products are changed and optimized efficiently.
Design systems can help different teams to work more closely together. It can help them create a common language for the components they are working on and align naming conventions in each team's various workflows. This eliminates a lot of misunderstandings, leading to much smoother communication. A shared vocabulary also helps to onboard new team members faster and better.
Different teams have different workflows and tools, which sometimes can be challenging when multiple teams need to work together on a project. A design system can help streamline the workflows and tools around the design system so everyone can work together more efficiently. When workflows line up and everybody can agree on the tools in use, it creates much less friction and smoother collaboration.
Faster feedback and iterations
Critical deadlines can be tight, pushing design teams to make fast decisions that fail because they didn't have sufficient time to test and research. When a design system is in place, all the groundwork is already done, so designers have more time to work on more important things. When components and flows are well-documented and mapped out, it's much easier to follow the user's journey through the product or spot inconsistencies in the design. This is helpful because it allows for better feedback and communication between teams and stakeholders. It also creates flexibility for the team because everybody has the same components to build from, so if a new designer joins the team, they can be up and running much faster than if they had to build everything themselves.
Everybody has an opinion on design which has its pros and cons. A lot of time can be used to discuss different product elements, and choosing option A over B can be challenging. Creating a single source of truth with tested components and flows makes it possible to move those discussions to a more strategic level because it's much easier to make informed design decisions. This helps teams to move in the same direction rather than discussing the colors of buttons, and it is also much easier to build upon what is already created and learn from that, rather than starting from scratch every time.
If you've been in the digital product field for a few years, you probably remember the dread of handing over designs to development or receiving poorly documented designs for implementation. With a design system, handoff goes much more smoothly because many of the elements are already documented and use the tokens everyone agrees on. This makes collaboration between developer and designer much more efficient and frees up time to get the small details right.
A good collaborative culture can elevate your product and the work culture at your organization. It fosters innovation because it encourages the sharing of ideas between different teams with various skills and backgrounds. This cross-pollination can generate new ideas for old problems and help people see new solutions that may not have been possible otherwise.
Contact USE Agency partner Ari Haack Marteinsson to learn more about digital design systems.
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