Design system

Design systems are groups of guidelines, design principles, and reusable components used by a company to create consistent branding and design choices at a large scale.

Updated on December 10th, 2022


What is the purpose of a design system?

Design systems help you remain visually consistent as your business grows. Its purpose is to function as a foundation for every creative aspect of your company. A design system's guidelines and reusable components enable you to do that.

What are the elements of a design system?

Design systems have many elements. It is important to include the core team and a central place for people to access the design system. Otherwise, we're only talking about a component library. Let's take a look at the elements of a good design system.

Core team

First of all, there's the core team. This is the most important part of a design system. Every company that's serious about building a design system should have one. As the name suggests, the core team consists of the main people who work on the design system. Here's who to expect to be on the team.

  • Designers.

  • Front-end developers.

  • Product owner.

Central place for people to access the design system

To make your design system a success, everybody at your company needs to have access to the design system. That includes non-tech people.

The best thing to do here is to create a design system homepage where you can read about the guidelines and components. The design system needs to show the design and the front-end code and variations for each element.

Component library

The largest part of a design system is the component library. As a designer or a front-end developer, you're contributing to the component library a lot.

That's because not every component is in the library yet. If you encounter such a situation, you can work with the core team to add a new component.

Components in the library are user-tested and built by a developer. Because of that, it is easy to reuse the component, which speeds up both the design and development process.

Getting started with a design system

Let's say you want to get started with a design system for your company. That's a solid idea! But getting started from scratch is hard.

The first thing to do is to get together a core team. For example, if you're a designer, find a product owner and developer to help you with the business side and development side of the design system.

Once you have the design system's core team ready, here's how to get started with the design system.

  1. Figure out what you want to achieve with the design system. Are you going to replace the outdated and inconsistent current design? Do you want to make your design scalable and future-proof? Or something else? It's important to agree on these goals before you start.

  2. Set up a way of working. Where can people access the design system? How can people contribute? Make sure this is clear.

  3. Develop your first design principles. This is usually based on existing branding guidelines and user research.

  4. Start designing and building those components!

Who needs a design system?

The short answer is that any company that works with design needs a design system. As a general rule, larger companies have a bigger need for design systems. That's because they have more components and more people working on the design.

However, that doesn't mean you should only start working on a design system when you're a large company. If you wait too long, it will be more work to redo all the design work that you've done before.

Useful resources

Design System - Atlassian



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