12 December 2019

The importance of a Design System

Design is nowadays, an area of high complexity that involves different competencies and professional areas, with direct applicability in many sectors of activity. This article aims to clarify what is a design system and what is its importance.

In the product development context, organizations now understand, that there is a direct relationship between design and the added value of particular user experience, as well as its influence on meeting and anticipating users’ needs. Designers are fully dedicated to gathering technical, business and usability requirements in a relationship of commitment with the quality of deliverables functionalities of each project. Also, there is an old concern inherent in the genesis of its activity: respect for the guiding lines of a brand, product or service.

In this way, paper manuals and the rules defined for offline media were left out. Digital transformation has brought with it the constant need to develop new digital products and services, often produced by teams of different suppliers.

This situation has led to some problems related to the impossibility of maintaining brand cohesion, the creation of usability standards between services, and the difficult correction or innovation of created services.

The speed of products development and scalability has now become a projected utopia in the team’s universe, technologies, frameworks, development methodologies and design styles associated with only single organization development.

Effectively, organizations were, on the one hand, losing control over product effectiveness and cohesion, and on the other hand, verifying the impossibility of getting it back in their own hands. Regarding this last point, the truth is that web development is vast in several technologies, skills and methods, almost always requiring the hiring of specialised professionals for its development.

It was in this context of adaption to digital paradigms, that modular development emerged and consequently, the solution for the standardization of web development: The Design System.


But after all what is a Design System?


Design system is a contributory digital system comprised of visual and technological guidelines, documentation and structured resources in a toolkit for standardising communication, development and creating user experiences appropriate to the end-users of a particular brand.

design system


What are the advantages of a Design System?


  • Brand Identity Maintenance: The creation of a design system presupposes the creation of visual rules and, as a result, the definition of visual communication patterns across all developments.
  • Reduction of cognitive load:The use of design systems presupposes the availability of a fluid experience and the ability to gradually reduce the need for thought to perform determinant actions.
  • Effectiveness of communication between development teams: From the moment when the design system presents itself as the knowledge base shared by the entire development team, and defines the project concession assumptions, the ease of communication between teams and the uniformity of their methods increases considerably. Design system helps organizations to build bridges between teams.
  • Design Cost Reduction: Creating a design system means reducing design effort, consequently reducing development costs as there is a UI kit available to apply to all projects.
  • Development Cost Reduction: You can reduce the duration of a project by 50%, representing a substantial cost reduction. Developers do not need to make design and front-end development framework decisions but are fully dedicated and focused on implementing existing components.
  • Faster quality testing with low impact correction: The design system ensures a considerable change in the time devoted to quality testing since the components used are stable, have versioning control and can be tested with automatic scripts.
  • Learning effort: The effort associated with learning methodologies and guideline is reduced by providing all the tools and describing the steps for the development.
  • Component reuse: The diffusion of modular development and component reuse according to Brad Frost’s approach, Atomic Design. In practice, the creation of a single component capable of suiting the most diverse platforms without a higher effort of adaption.
  • Reduction of Technological and layout inconsistencies: The existence of a development and customization map, allows the reduction of inconsistencies in number and impact in the solution developed and effort associated with its correction.

design system

Objections to Developing a Design System


  • We need a time Machine to correct the past: The first and most common objection we have received as feedback on the presentation of a design system is the impossibility of quickly correcting past developments. The truth, the design system needs to be viewed with preparation for the future and not as a corrective measure of the past.
  • Are they going to limit my creativity?Creating successful brands has always presupposed, in some way, creative limitation, and that is why it can be remembered through repetition and recourse to memory, allowing, in the medium term, the creation of notoriety, whether assisted or spontaneous.
  • Demands a higher need for planning and training: Design planning for the development of a design system is based on a modular development approach and development prioritization. From the moment we see the project as an incremental contributory solution, we realise that the benefit is that it is development-oriented according to the needs and not the construction of a tight and complete solution from the first moment.
  • My teams are unaware of these areas: The design system integrates all the tools we need to know how to develop a particular project in a given technology. The main objective of this tool is exactly to enable teams without knowledge of user experience and graphical interfaces to implement quality solutions within the rules of a brand.


In short, a design system is currently a powerful tool for reducing development complexity and enabling teams to implement best practice technology solutions. The goal is the spread of a common language and shared understanding of the benefits of a customer-oriented approach rather than the old one, project-oriented.

Creating a design system means giving the best for The Projects, understanding project development as an ongoing responsibility for the performance of the solutions and the quality of communication to our customers.


            Sónia Silva         
     Full Stack Designer