Design Systems: How They Make or Break The Product

Sviatoslav Nytka
UI/UX Designer at TechMagic with a passion for visually stunning interfaces. Proven speaker. Guided by creativity, empathy, and data-driven design.
Design Systems: How They Make or Break The Product

As digital products become increasingly complex, product teams must adapt their approaches to meet the demands of the industry. This realization has led several companies to adopt a more comprehensive design approach.

But why should you invest in a design system?

According to studies, companies implementing design systems experience a 34% increase in design productivity and deliver products faster than those without a system. Moreover, design systems ensure consistency and brand integrity across channels, apps, and devices, crucial for making a positive first impression and building consumer trust.

The business value of design systems is undeniable. A study by Kinesis Inc. revealed that 94% of a user's first impressions of a company are design-related, and 75% judge a company's credibility based on design.

Furthermore, industry leaders like Google, IBM, and Salesforce rely on design systems to codify and scale their design efforts. The benefits are twofold: design systems expedite product development and ensure consistency, familiarity, and accessibility at every touchpoint.

What is Design System?

Design system is a comprehensive collection of standardized components, guidelines, and documentation that serves as a single source of truth for building consistent and cohesive user interfaces.

Design system comprises a design repository, which encompasses a style guide, a component library, and a pattern library. These resources, managed by a dedicated team, provide guidelines, reusable UI elements, and structures to ensure consistency and streamline the design process, resulting in cohesive and unified user experiences.

There are 3 principles of design system:

  1. Simplicity – Design systems prioritize simplicity by including only components and rules planned to be reused and comprehensive.
  2. Intuitiveness – Each element within the system should be responsive to redesign and development, introduced through a visually clear interface, and follow a concise hierarchy.
  3. Adaptiveness – A design system's architecture and interface should be flexible enough to accommodate modifications.

But what sets a design system apart from a style guide or a pattern library?

Well, it goes beyond just a collection of assets. It includes the standards and documentation that give context to those assets. It's not just about having consistent pieces; it's about ensuring they come together harmoniously to create a cohesive system.

A design system comprises several essential elements that create a cohesive and consistent user experience. Let's explore these elements in more detail.

  1. Style Guide: Style guides provide specific implementation guidelines, visual references, and design principles. They often focus on branding elements such as colors, typography, trademarks, logos, and print media. Additionally, style guides offer guidance on content, including recommendations for tone of voice and language usage. These guidelines are sometimes integrated into the component library to provide contextual guidance.
  2. Component Library: Component or design libraries are central repositories of reusable UI elements. They serve as a one-stop shop for designers and developers, offering predetermined and reusable components that can be implemented consistently across projects.
  3. Pattern Library: While component libraries specify individual UI elements, pattern libraries feature collections of UI-element groupings or layouts. Patterns are reusable structures that encompass content structures, layouts, and templates. They provide designers with high-level patterns that can be adapted and reused across different projects.

Note: A design system is a collection of reusable elements that can be assembled to develop new digital products, similar to LEGO blocks. These elements encompass various aspects, such as foundations (iconography, typography, grids), brand guidelines (logo usage, typography, colors), style guides (visual style, tone of voice), components (buttons, form fields, radio buttons), and pattern libraries that combine elements from the design system to define common UI design patterns.

So why should you use a design system? Keep reading to find out its benefits.

Benefits of Having a Design System

Consistency and Brand Identity

A design system provides a centralized resource that ensures all design elements, from typography and color schemes to icons and layouts, adhere to predetermined brand guidelines.

Customers who encounter consistent visual cues, such as logos, typography, and color schemes, develop a stronger association with the brand. This consistency helps reinforce the brand's identity.

Design systems streamline the creation of branded assets by providing reusable design components and templates. For example, a design system may include predefined logo variations, standardized typography styles, and a comprehensive color palette. Designers can leverage these assets to create new branded materials efficiently, ensuring consistency with existing brand elements.

Consistency encompasses:

  • Visual consistency ensures that elements and components exhibit high similarity in their visual properties, such as sizing, colors, and fonts.
  • Functional consistency ensures that user interactions yield consistent outcomes regardless of the context. Users expect familiar behaviors and outcomes, such as returning to the previous page or adding items to a cart.
  • Internal consistency combines visual and functional elements to maintain user environment consistency. Even with new features or pages, adhering to existing consistency rules ensures users feel at home and don't need to constantly relearn how to navigate and perform tasks within your application.
  • External consistency extends the concept of consistency beyond a single platform or product. By reusing user interface principles across different platforms or systems, you can create a sense of familiarity for users interacting with your brand on other channels.

Streamlined Development Process

When design updates are made in the design system, they can be easily applied to all products. This eliminates manual coding adjustments for each platform or device, saving developers valuable time.

A design system streamlines the design-to-production workflow, reducing the time and effort required for various process stages. Designers can quickly prototype screens by utilizing pre-existing components and patterns, saving hours of design work. Sharing components and styles across different teams allows for efficient collaboration and reduces the dependency on visual designers for every screen layout. Engineers can utilize tools like Storybook to code patterns in isolation, further improving development speed.

Furthermore, design systems eliminate redundancy in the design process. With a central repository of past work, designers and developers can reference existing solutions, preventing them from solving the same problems repeatedly. Standardizing design solutions and components frees up time for designers and developers to tackle new challenges that require innovative solutions.

Adaptability and Scalability

Most companies face challenges when scaling up their products, mainly due to the non-linear increase in effort. As more features and products are added, complexity grows exponentially, requiring additional resources to align the user experience across all products. Thankfully, a design system can address these challenges effectively.

A design system enables you to build more products without the need for a proportional increase in your team. By centralizing design and UI decisions and alignment, a design system addresses the organizational challenges when scaling to more or larger products with multiple teams.

As teams grow, staying in sync with every designer and developer becomes difficult, resulting in losing track of ongoing projects. Controlling and aligning all projects becomes an overwhelming task, often requiring a significant number of people. Consequently, ensuring consistent patterns, styles, and quality standards becomes a struggle, leading to a fragmented collection of products where components are inconsistently rebuilt.

With a design system in place, designers can focus on solving specific problems and designing user flows, rather than worrying about the visual appearance of every element. Decisions regarding colors, contrast, shapes, and more are centralized within the design system, which is owned and managed by a dedicated team. This approach allows for the addition of more teams while ensuring high quality and consistency.

Enhanced User Experience and Product Quality

Let's explore how design systems achieve this:

  • Intuitive Navigation: Through consistent placement of navigation elements, such as menus, buttons, and links, users can easily navigate through different pages and sections of the product.
  • Consistent Interactions: By defining and documenting interaction patterns, such as hover effects, animations, and micro-interactions, design systems ensure a coherent and familiar user experience. Developers and product managers can easily understand and iterate upon interactions without extensive explanations for each use case.
  • Seamless Interfaces: By establishing a set of predefined visual styles, such as typography, colors, and iconography, design systems create a cohesive visual language across the entire product.
  • Accessibility Considerations: By ensuring that accessible design principles are integrated into the system, such as color contrast, keyboard navigation, and screen reader compatibility, design systems make products more inclusive and usable for individuals with disabilities.

Efficiency and Time and Money Savings

By standardizing design decisions and externalizing their management to a central team, design systems boost productivity by reducing redundant work. Design systems allow for quick and cost-effective development of new features and versions of existing flows, making it easier to adapt to changing market demands. Moreover, systematizing processes and practices across projects reduce the cost of development and maintenance.

By reusing design components and patterns, teams can focus on strategic issues and allocate resources to areas that enhance the product's value and competitive advantage. This scalability and maintenance advantage ensures long-term cost savings and positions organizations for continued growth.

Better Team Collaboration

A design system unifies a brand across all products and platforms, providing a common design language that fosters effective communication and collaboration among team members. The result is a smoother design-to-development process, eliminating the need for one-off solutions and minimizing rework that can delay project timelines and increase costs. With a design system in place, teams can focus more on project-specific domain knowledge rather than spending time deciphering inconsistent practices or debating design and development decisions.

The design system is a centralized repository of UI-related knowledge, including accessibility guidelines, color schemes, typography rules, and UI testing practices. This standardization not only facilitates easy access to information but also ensures that if a particular detail is not documented in the design system, it doesn't exist. This clarity and shared understanding make it much easier for someone else to jump into a project and continue the work, alleviating concerns when a key team member is absent or leaves the organization.

Closing the Brand-Product Gap

When creating a UI component library based on a brand philosophy, it's crucial to balance expressive branding aspects with considerations of accessibility and compatibility across various devices. This task requires experimentation, tweaking, and careful attention to detail. With a design system in place, this responsibility falls on a dedicated team that can take a holistic approach, considering the needs of different platforms and devices. The result is a set of design tokens and components ready to use, empowering product teams to design interfaces that align with brand guidelines confidently.

Real-Life Examples of Adopting a Design System

Design systems have gained significant traction in the industry, and several organizations have successfully implemented their design systems to streamline their product development processes. Let's explore some notable examples of design systems and the benefits they offer:

Google Material Design

Google Material Design promotes a consistent user experience by focusing on principles such as elevation, responsive layout, and bold use of color. It also provides motion guidelines to enhance the interactivity and fluidity of the user interface. Many popular apps and websites, including Google's products, have adopted Material Design to ensure a cohesive and recognizable visual language.

Apple Human Interface Guidelines

Apple's Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) are the foundation for designing user interfaces on Apple's platforms, including iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. It provides downloadable design resources, including templates and UI kits, to assist designers in creating visually stunning and consistent experiences across Apple devices.

Salesforce Lightning Design System

Salesforce's Lightning Design System is a comprehensive design framework that focuses on creating unified and scalable experiences across Salesforce's suite of enterprise products. It provides a library of reusable components, guidelines, and best practices to enable designers and developers to build intuitive and visually consistent interfaces.

Atlassian Design System

Atlassian's Design System is a robust end-to-end design language used in popular products like Jira, Confluence, and Trello. It provides a cohesive set of guidelines, components, and resources to create simple, intuitive, and visually appealing user experiences.

Shopify Polaris Design System

Shopify's Polaris Design System is specifically tailored for e-commerce merchants. It offers a comprehensive library of components, design guidelines, and best practices to help developers create consistent and user-friendly experiences for online stores.

IBM Carbon Design System

IBM's Carbon Design System is an open-source design system encompassing many products and digital experiences. It includes resources for designing data-heavy applications, such as data visualization components and guidelines.

Microsoft Fluent Design System

Microsoft's Fluent Design System is a comprehensive design language used across their product ecosystem, including Windows, Office, and Xbox. It emphasizes a modern, immersive user experience, incorporating depth, motion, and transparency.

How to Create a Design System

Step 1: Conduct a Visual Audit

Before diving into building a design system, conducting a thorough visual audit of your current design is crucial. This process involves reviewing and taking inventory of all the design elements and CSS styles used in your digital product. By examining these elements' visual qualities and patterns, you can gain insights into the scope and complexity of the design system you need to develop. The visual audit helps identify inconsistencies, assess the required effort, and determine areas that need improvement.

Step 2: Create a Visual Design Language

The visual design language is the foundation of your design system. It encompasses the discernible components used to construct your digital product. To create an effective visual design language, consider the following aspects:

  • Color: Define a set of primary colors that align with your brand identity. This typically includes 1-3 primary colors. Additionally, you may want to include a range of tints (colors mixed with white) and shades (colors mixed with black) to provide designers with more options and flexibility.
  • Typography: Choose typography that reflects your brand's personality and ensures readability. Most design systems include two main fonts for headings and body copy and a monospace font for code or technical content. Limiting the number of fonts maintains simplicity and avoids performance issues caused by excessive use of web fonts.
  • Sizing and Spacing: Establish a consistent spacing and sizing system across your digital product. A popular approach uses a 4-based scale, which aligns with common design standards. This scale allows for easy scaling of components and maintains a sense of rhythm and balance in the design.
  • Imagery: Develop guidelines for using imagery, including illustrations and icons. Define the style, size, and appropriate image formats for different contexts.

Step 3: Create a Library of Components and Templates

Gather all the existing UI elements, including buttons, forms, modals, images, and other components used in your digital product. Remove any redundant or unnecessary elements to streamline your design system. The UI library is a centralized repository of reusable components and templates that designers and developers can easily access and utilize.

Step 4: Document Each Component and Its Usage

Proper documentation ensures your design system's successful implementation and adoption. Document each component in your UI library, providing clear explanations of each component, its purpose, and guidelines on when and how to use it. Include details such as the component's behavior, accessibility considerations, and any variations or states it may have. This documentation is a reference for designers, developers, and other stakeholders.

Step 5: Establish Maintenance and Updating Processes

A design system is not a one-time creation; it requires ongoing maintenance and updates to remain effective. Establish processes to regularly review and update the design system as your product evolves, user needs change, and design trends emerge. Encourage collaboration among your design and development teams to gather feedback and incorporate improvements into the system. Continuously refine the design system to align it with your organization's goals and objectives.

Discover more about the key principles to build an design system in our blog.

TechMagic's Experience with Design Systems

Providing UX/UI design services for 9 years,  we have successfully designed design systems for companies from various industries. Let's look at these cases.

Performing Documentation

Ensuring inclusivity for all users, we meticulously crafted design elements to meet WCAG standards, fostering a user-centric approach. A color palette was curated, reflecting brand identity and enhancing visual cohesion throughout the interface. A careful selection of fonts and text styles enhances readability and conveys a consistent tone.

We design expressive icons and bespoke illustrations, adding personality to the interface and aiding intuitive interactions. Also, we orchestrated diverse components:

  • Buttons: From primary calls to action to subtle secondary options, each button's purpose and design were meticulously defined, ensuring intuitive user engagement.
  • Modal windows: Crafting modal experiences that guide users effectively, we detailed anatomy, states, and specifications, enabling seamless interactions.
  • ...and beyond: The system boasts an expansive library covering a wide spectrum of components meticulously detailed in comprehensive documentation.

One of the major outcomes of implementing the design system library was the achievement of a consistent and cohesive user interface across the application. With predefined styles and components, design became harmonized, enhancing the overall user experience.

Lightning Design System Integration

TechMagic integrated the Lightning Design System into their project, bringing numerous advantages. By leveraging a well-established design system, TechMagic was able to expedite the development process and deliver a polished user interface for the application.

The Lightning Design System provided a comprehensive library of pre-built components, styles, and design guidelines. This eliminated the need to start from scratch and enabled TechMagic to focus more on customizing and fine-tuning the design to meet the client's requirements. The result was a visually appealing and consistent UI that enhanced the user experience.


Design systems are not static entities. As digital products evolve and change, the design system should evolve alongside them. The consistent gains achieved through a design system justify the time and effort invested in its development.

Whether you are starting from scratch or looking to enhance your existing design system, prioritizing your product design system is essential. If you're unsure where to start, partnering with experts like TechMagic can provide the necessary expertise and assistance in creating a flawless design system tailored to your product.


  1. What is the impact of a design system?

    A design system significantly impacts product development by ensuring consistent and cohesive user interfaces, improving efficiency, and streamlining design and development processes.

  2. What is the value of a design system?

    A design system provides immediate value by enabling faster and more cost-effective product development, delivering better user experiences, and aligning with the organization's strategic vision for long-term impact.

  3. Where is system design used?

    System design is used in various industries and sectors, including software development, web design, mobile app development, e-commerce, finance, and government websites. It can be applied to any project that requires consistent and scalable design solutions.

  4. Is it possible to implement a Design System in a developed product?

    Of cousre, it is possible. While it may present challenges, implementing a design system in an existing platform can help maintain consistency, improve scalability, and enhance the overall user experience. The earlier you start considering a design system, the better the process will be.

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