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    A Comprehensive guide to design systems


    A Comprehensive guide to design systems

    Most of the tech giants are trying to find out the lack of consistency in the applications.

    Why do most of the UI or UX projects take longer than the required duration and which includes the spike in the cost.

    Maybe there was no common framework or a platform or a common template that can solve this issue.

    In this ever-evolving digital world, the ability of a company to adapt to change is critical for long-term success. Here comes the solution for all these to have a suitable Design System.

    What is a Design System?

    A design system is a collection of UI components built together by design principles. It provides the ability to develop products that are consistent in how they look feel and act in ways that make them go from good to great. It can accelerate your product development while also ensuring that your development process remains agile and adaptable. In other words, it is a collection of reusable design elements such as buttons input fields, and headers. The Development team can make use of these elements in different ways to build or customize the product as per the client’s needs.

    What does a Design System Contain?

    It consists of 3 elements a component and pattern library a style guide featuring typography colors brand identity and icons rules of usage that include design principles language or documentation and design terminology.

    It provides you with a standardized single point of reference for most if not all your UX and UI decisions.

    It serves as a reference that helps the different teams involved (such as designers, developers, copywriters, and project managers) design, and builds digital products.

    Uses of a Design System

    It promotes consistency by ensuring that interface elements are created in the same way especially when there are multiple designers involved.

    It also increases the efficiency of your development teams by eliminating the need to design or code the same elements more than once saving both time and money

    A good design system puts accessibility first making it easier for designers and developers to create products that empower users of all abilities what should you start using a design system

    The ultimate advantage of using a design system is that a single change can be propagated throughout an application for consistency and speed this makes it easier to adapt a design system to be framing and branding requirements

    Some more advantages of a design system are:

    Faster builds, through reusable components and shared rationale.

    Better products, through more cohesive user experiences and a consistent design language.

    Improved maintenance and scalability, through the reduction of design and technical debt.

    The Stronger focus for product teams, through tackling common problems so teams can concentrate on solving user needs.

    Good Design Systems in the Market are

    • Lightning Design System (by Salesforce)

    The Salesforce Lightning Design System includes the resources to create user interfaces consistent with the Salesforce Lightning principles, design language, and best practices. Rather than focusing on pixels, developers can focus on application logic, while designers can focus on user experience, interactions, and flows. Click here for more information

    • Carbon Design System (by IBM)

    Carbon is IBM’s open-source design system for products and digital experiences. With the IBM Design Language as its foundation, the system consists of working code, design tools and resources, human interface guidelines, and a vibrant community of contributors. Click here for more information 

    • Fluent Design System (by Microsoft)

    Fluent is an open-source, cross-platform design system that gives designers and developers the frameworks they need to create engaging product experiences—accessibility, internationalization, and performance included. Click here for more information 

    • Material design (by Google)

    Material is a design system created by Google to help teams build high-quality digital experiences for Android, iOS, Flutter, and the web. Click here for more information

    • Apple Design Resources

    Design apps quickly and accurately by using Sketch, Photoshop, and XD templates, guides, and other resources. Click here for more information 

    • Airbnb Design

    ‍The goal we set for the DLS was to create a more beautiful and accessible design language. We wanted our designs to be unified to drive greater efficiency through well-defined, reusable, and cross-platform components. Click here for more information 

    • Audi User Interface Guidelines

    Audi user interfaces are as varied as their uses – ranging from inspiring websites to applications for a particular service. The aim is to create varied solutions and a well-balanced, system-wide user experience – from the app to the vehicle. The basis for this is provided by a common set of components, modules, and animations. Click here for more information 

    • Base: Uber’s design system

    Base Web is a foundation for initiating, evolving, and unifying web products. Click here for more information

    Tools for Managing and Maintaining a Design System

    • Invision DSM

    Invision DSM is a management system that makes publishing your design system much easier. It provides tools like drag and drops, version history of components, team sharing, and permission, as well as a robust search across all your UI components.  Integration with Sketch Libraries helps you upload sync changes and push and pull design system assets. Click here for more information 

    • Figma

    Figma allows designers to build UI libraries that are synced via the cloud. Components can be searched and dragged and dropped right into the file. They also have color and font tokens that can be shared across the team to ensure design alignment. All components can also be aligned with code to help with developer handoff. The design system is accessed through the Figma app, but non-designers can use the web app for free to access the design system. Click here for more information 

    • Axure

    Axure has shared components libraries, which can be used to share your UI components within a team. By publishing the project on Axure Cloud or your internal servers, your team can have access to use or update the component libraries. Currently, Axure doesn’t support color or font tokens, but the visual style guide can be updated manually or via Axure’s style system. Axure can import design assets from Figma and Sketch, but component libraries will have to be created manually. Click here for more information

    • ‍Sketch

    Sketch also has shared component libraries, which can be used to create a design system. The downside is that it’s not a complete solution; you can manage your UI components through Sketch component libraries but will have to create a Sketch file with the style and design information separately. Click here for more information

    • Adobe XD

    Adobe XD also uses shared libraries to enable teams to manage a design system; however, colors and fonts can be included in the library. But the system is accessed through the tool, and everyone will need a copy of Adobe XD. This is not an issue with UX/UI teams but may be a challenge for product or dev teams. Click here for more information 

    • ZeroHeight

    ZeroHeight is a stand-alone hub for managing your design system.  It combines documentation, commenting, and user management in a clean web-based solution. Designers can import design files and visual assets from Sketch, Figma, Zeplin, and Adobe XD. Click here for more information 


    In a nutshell design system is a great exercise to discover design issues and usability gaps in your product. It can help to get your design team to focus on solving the more significant product design challenges.

    Author Bio: Sravan Nakka

    Sravan Nakka is a Senior Guidewire Developer with 11 years of experience in the industry and 6+ years of relevant experience in GW software implementation. Worked across multiple US Insurance Clients and being a part of those crucial implementation right from the inception phase. He is a GW Specialist Certified and AINS 21 Certified as well.

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