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What is a digital design system?
Digital product design is all about making digital things, like apps, websites, or software, that people use on their phones, computers, or other devices. The main goal is to ensure these digital items work smoothly and are simple for users to understand and navigate.
The aim of a digital product design is to look good, feel intuitive, and meet the needs of the users, making their digital experiences enjoyable and hassle-free.
This collection of reusable components, combined with standardized design guidelines, ensures that a brand maintains a consistent visual presence across platforms. Even with multiple designers at work, a digital design system guarantees a unified user experience by embedding these fundamental UX/UI design building blocks into the creative process.
Let’s not confuse this with a pattern library.
A pattern library is like a toolkit that shows how specific pieces, like buttons or page layouts, should look and work. But it's just a collection of these pieces. A digital design system, however, is the big picture—it's the overall plan that guides how a whole product should look and function.
At what point will you need a digital design system?
There are two reasons why you might be looking to systemize your digital product design and functionality.
The first and most common reason is that you’re growing your business and it is getting harder to make sure everybody is on the same page. A design system can help onboard new team members and ensure everyone follows the same guidelines.
Another reason is your business is undergoing a rebranding or a significant brand evolution, which is an opportune time to build a digital design system, that will ensure the new brand identity is consistently applied across all digital assets. A design system can also speed up the design and development process, allowing businesses to launch or update digital products more quickly.
How is it structured?
In design and development, teams use a method called atomic design. It's like building with blocks, starting from the smallest piece and adding more to make bigger things.
Just as in nature, where tiny atoms come together to make bigger structures, design starts with the tiniest parts (called "atoms") and builds up from there. But instead of just three levels like in nature, this design method has five: atoms, molecules, organisms, templates, and pages.
"Atoms" are the smallest design pieces, and "pages" are the complete designs that users see and use.
Here at Flexy, we always provide our clients with a comprehensive, detailed package of UI kits and brand books to help build their very own digital design system.
What are the 4 principles of a digital design system?
The principles of a digital design system can vary depending on the UI/UX design developed or the specific goals of an organization. However, many design systems are often grounded in some common foundational principles. Here are four widely recognized principles of a digital design system:
- Consistency: Ensuring that UX/UI design elements and patterns are uniform across all digital platforms and touchpoints. This allows users to have a predictable and familiar experience, strengthening brand recognition.
- Modularity: Breaking down the design into reusable components or modules. This enables designers and developers to assemble interfaces efficiently, similar to using building blocks.
- Scalability: Designing in a way that can adapt and grow with the needs of the brand or organization. As the digital landscape evolves, the design system should be flexible enough to accommodate new features, platforms, or technologies
- Clarity: Keeping the design and its guidelines clear and understandable. This ensures that both designers and developers can easily grasp and implement the system, leading to better collaboration and outcomes
Why should your brand have a digital design system?
As brands grow, they'll have more digital spaces to manage. With a digital design system, they can expand without losing their unique style. This also means a better experience for users, who will find it easier to use and understand these digital spaces.
When updates are needed, they're easier to roll out. Think of it like updating a template; the changes get applied everywhere. Digital design systems save time and ensure everything remains consistent.
Another benefit of having a digital design system is that it significantly improves collaboration and productivity. It is like a shared toolbox for both designers and developers. It offers steady, up-to-date design rules and parts. A design system provides consistent and robust design patterns that are constantly updated, so, developers can easily use components of permanently updated scoped styles.
Finally, a digital design system is also a handy reference. New team members can quickly get up to speed by looking at the system. It tells them how things should look and work, ensuring everyone is on the same page.