According to Forrester's report,The State of Digital Experience Delivery, modern enterprises manage on average 268 customer-facing websites, mobile sites, and mobile applications. This is a substantial challenge; enterprise ecosystems are complex, with multiple channels and touchpoints to cover. In this new, connected environment, businesses are realizing that delivering seamless and consistent user experience (UX) across their entire portfolio is key to future success.
One of the main reasons why enterprise software has earned a reputation for expensive and bad UX is that it’s often developed in siloed projects, where stakeholders and project participants create everything from scratch. This silo culture leads to design that is inconsistent with industry standards, user expectations, and even software created by other teams. Additionally, many companies don’t have the resources to create great software from scratch, especially when maintenance is considered.
This means that companies need to take a more scalable approach to delivering exceptional digital experience for entire portfolios of products—a scalable approach in the form of a design system.
Design Once; Leverage Everywhere
A design system establishes a design foundation by providing solutions to recurring problems. User interfaces are broken down into reusable, pre-built modules that can be assembled based on design patterns and styled for specific use cases.
Let’s take the analogy of building a house. People who build houses don’t create the bricks and cement. Using a blueprint, they assemble parts that have a defined role like doors and windows. This method allows the team to quickly build the house without having to first create all the underlying details from scratch. They can then focus on understanding the owner’s needs, such as the number of floors and rooms or the slope of the roof.
As with building a house, developing an application requires many elements to come together in an organized and purposeful way. Like poured concrete, the software platform serves as the foundation, providing construction capabilities that are invisible to end users. When it comes to assembling the necessary pieces, patterns provide the blueprints for fitting them together. Like a house, every application uses prefabricated elements that can be used multiple times (think windows and doors); these elements are called pre-built modules. Finally, there’s styling; attributes such as color, size, typography, iconography, and spacing can be applied to any element, be it higher level modules or basic screen components.
Why You Should Use a Design System
Design Systems makes application development faster and more collaborative. Designers and frontend developers can focus on their areas of expertise and leverage the knowledge of their colleagues, allowing them to better perform their tasks. Businesses that incorporate design systems into their development strategy empower their employees and set the stage to differentiate themselves from their competition with coherent, connected design.