One of the hardest things to accomplish when your team is working on a major project is maintaining consistency. With multiple designers and points of view at play, how can you ensure that every aspect of your mobile app or site is styled properly across all channels and devices?
One solution is to implement a design system, or a set of reusable design components along with principles and guidelines for using them in product development. A design system can help you remain agile in a multichannel universe with many devices.
In this article, you’ll learn more about design systems and how they can help your team optimize your software development lifecycle (SDLC).
A design system consists of two elements: design components and instructions on how to use them. Unlike UI libraries or style guides, these instructions are mandatory, and they give you more power in implementation.
When you only provide design components, engineers can use them at their own discretion. This can lead to inconsistent design across products and channels. When you also provide the instructions on how and when to use the design components, you’ll achieve more visually consistent products that are easier to grow and scale over time.
Here are some ways in which design systems can help you:
Design systems come with challenges as well. Keep these issues in mind when implementing your design system:
These challenges may seem daunting, but solutions like Unflow can help you achieve the benefits of a well-refined design system while mitigating these challenges and costs.
Unflow is a no-code tool that allows you to deliver content to your users dynamically. You do this by adding Unflow to your application, then using Unflow’s visual editor to compose screens and content that can be updated and delivered to users. There’s no need for users to update the app or for you to push a new build to the app store.
Unflow can tie into your design system, adopting your branding colors, fonts, and styles. It helps you deliver a seamless on-brand experience that is easy to update and solves the challenges traditionally involved in design system adoption, such as building and maintaining new components from scratch as well as high upfront development costs.
Design systems can save your developers time by facilitating faster development of visually appealing mobile apps that provide a unified user experience across multiple products and channels. You can create reusable design components for anything from atomic components like buttons and text inputs to more complex components like widgets and pop-ups.
When you create a powerful hub of truth and knowledge about your app design and its best practices, you will find that as ambiguity and discovery-related risk decreases, development speed and quality tend to increase. This allows you to shave days off your release cycles.
Implementing a design system can help you improve your workflow in the following ways.
A design system is more than just a single component library. It describes how your app should look, feel, and behave. These things transcend individual mediums like components. The same design system can be exposed through multiple mediums, so it can be applied equally to your apps, website, and marketing emails.
The initial development of a design system may take time, effort, and thought, but once it’s in place, the design and development process becomes much faster. All the components are fully tried and tested across multiple environments so that the only thing developers need to do is plug them into their design.
In the absence of a unified design system, different teams may have relied on their own separate standards. When teams start using a single design system, they communicate using a unified design language, thereby eliminating the need to sound out interdepartmental issues. With time, you can develop a solid design document such as the Material Design system from Google, which includes both design and implementation for each component:
In the absence of a design system, your engineering team has to decide which component should be placed where on the screen, every time. Depending on how your design system is built, and to what degree it specifies how layouts should be composed, this can become a non-issue when you have a reliable source to draw upon. This enables teams to get straight to development instead of wasting time and energy making design decisions.
As engineers work faster and with more precision, you can use tools like Unflow to deliver the same output with smaller engineering teams. Leaner teams are also easier to manage, since they offer more flexibility, innovation, and agility.
Styling apps in a consistent manner over an extended period of time is challenging, especially in an enterprise setup with hundreds of designers and developers collaborating on a single product.
Design systems, and the tools that help you implement them, provide a visual consistency to your app that would be difficult to achieve manually. You can use a design system to create and update a visually appealing app, or pick up design elements from existing apps and modify them to integrate into a new design system. This helps you maintain continuity as well as save your engineers development time.
With a design system, you gain the necessary tools to develop, communicate, and implement a unified design language that allows your developers to deliver consistently and at scale.
Design systems can make an enormous difference for your organization’s workflow. Using a design system helps you ensure consistency, repeatability, and better scalability while saving your team time and effort and improving your SDLC.
When creating and implementing a design system, look for tools that can help you simplify the process. Unflow integrates with existing apps seamlessly by matching brand colors, fonts, and style, allowing for deep customization. For more on how Unflow can help you, check the documentation.