According to DesignBetter.co, a design system is defined as:
a collection of reusable components, guided by clear standards, that can be assembled together to build any number of applications.
Design systems are often confused with a pattern library or a style guide—both of which are just subsets of a design system. Think of a design system as the story of how a company builds and design its products — it can include design principles, UI components, UX guidelines, code standards, processes, design toolkits, code repositories, resources, etc. A design system is not a project, but a living product that is constantly evolving and needs to be maintained.
Some benefits of implementing a design system includes:
- Having a consistent product. It helps increase familiarity with users due to the standardized components used throughout the whole product. Therefore, there’s a better user experience.
- Efficiency within the team. Designers can prototype faster and focus more on the user experience since common UI components have already been designed. Engineers can then ship products faster since they are using components that have already been built.
- Encourages collaboration. Collaboration between designers and engineers is essential in creating a design system. Designers are not the only contributors — a design system is shared and used across multiple teams (designers, engineers, product managers, etc).
Implementing a design system sounds cool and every company wants to have one, but it is not always necessary. A company should only adopt one when it is on a larger scale rather than a small startup of 8 people. A company should only start building a design system when they are scaling the team and when they are hitting inefficiencies with multiple designers.