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All You Need to Know About Design Systems

When it comes to the world of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), design systems have become an essential part of it. A design system is a collection of components that are reusable, with proper guidelines to maintain consistency throughout the entire product. It helps in creating a design visually appealing, and comprehensible and provides the best user experience in all the interactions of a product.   

A design system not only helps in designing screens of a product, but it is also very important for collaboration among designers and developers. Designers and developers can both use the design system and implement it in their own work and it helps save both their time and ensure consistency across the platform. The design system generally consists of the following features.

Design Principles

In a design system, design principles are the essential guidelines that determine the philosophy of the design. These principles are defined values or rules that help designers in decision-making and improve the experience and visual aspect of UI/UX design. The design principles include the following:

Consistency

Consistency makes sure that all the elements in a design system show uniformity in their interactions. This principle establishes a familiar and predictable flow for the users, which makes navigation and product understanding easier for them. 

User-centered

The user-centered design places the most importance on the user’s requirements, pain points, and the useability of the product. This principle ensures design teams empathize and understand the target users and design specifically to create the best user experience by meeting the requirements of the users. 

Simplicity

Simplicity ensures that the design does not have complexity in the system. The design should be without clutter and unnecessary information. This allows users to complete tasks without extra effort and confusion. 

Accessibility

Accessibility makes sure that the design caters to the maximum number of users, including people with disabilities. This involves alternative text to images, proper color contrast for color-blind people, and closed captions for people with hearing problems. 

Scalability

This principle puts importance on the responsiveness of design to cater to different sizes of screens, for example, computers, mobile, tablets, etc. It ensures that design elements adjust when used in different screen sizes.

Visual Hierarchy

This principle states that the elements which are important should be prioritized in a hierarchy. When looking at a user interface, the user should understand the significance of the elements. 

Brand Identity

Brand identity should be kept in mind while designing any product. It makes sure that the design system incorporates the brand’s personality, style, and values consistently. These consist of logos, colors, icons, and images.

Innovation and Creativity

It encourages innovation and creativity should be done within the established design principles. It opens doors for designers to think outside the box and find new solutions while keeping useability in mind.

After the implementation of design principles, a design system incorporates the colors to set the tone of the product. For this, branding guidelines are used to maintain a visual hierarchy with the company’s brand identity.

Colors

Color is one of the important elements of a design system because it sets the product’s brand identity. When choosing colors, a primary color is selected which is consistent with the goal of the product, for example, if the product is something related to nature, some shade of green might be the best choice. After choosing a primary color, a secondary color is selected, which is usually a shade closer to the primary color, and an accent color is also decided which is used to highlight important features in the system.

 Generally, when using colors in UI design a 60-30-10 percent rule is implemented. 60 percent of the system should be the primary color, 30 percent of the system should be the secondary color, and accent color should make up the remaining 10 percent.

A design system always has colors for communicating success and failure to the user so a shade of green and red is used respectively and a neutral color such as yellow is also used to communicate a neutral response.

Finally, grey colors are generally used for headings, body text, strokes, and backgrounds.  

After the colors have been set up, a design system moves into typography. Typography involves deciding what font to use, and the size and weight of the font, according to the niche of the product. The typography needs to be readable and visually appealing to its users.

Typography

A proper set of font sizes is crucial to create a visually appealing hierarchy throughout the screens. First, the base body text, which is usually 16px, is selected. After that type scales are created manually or with the help of plugins. Generally, the “major third” scale is used as it works best for SaaS products. The number of headings is decided according to the requirement and a type scale is created. An example of it is given below

The importance of typography is that we use it throughout the product including buttons. Buttons are used for “call to action”  functionality throughout the product. When designing buttons, brand colors are used for a cohesive look which helps maintain brand identity. Buttons also act as indicators to help users navigate easily and achieve their goals. 

Buttons

When designing buttons 3 variations of default, Hover, and disabled states are made and they are divided into primary and secondary buttons. Then finally a large, medium, and small size variation of these buttons is made. In this way, all the variations are ready to use as required according to the screen size and scenario. The example below will help give a better understanding.

After buttons have been designed according to the requirements of the product, a design system generally moves into text fields. Text fields are used to provide space for users to input data wherever it is needed. Further details about the text fields are given below.

Text Fields

Text fields are one of the crucial parts of a design system as it helps create consistency and it saves designers a lot of time. These are designed by setting up their styles and variations. The types of text fields depend on the product but these styles usually consist of primary text fields with placeholder text, search fields, non-editable fields, one with icons, and an active hover state. These states have different sizes according to the requirement and designers generally tweak the basic standard text fields shown below to cater to the need of a particular product.

After carefully incorporating the colors, buttons, typography, and text fields, a design system generally has all the remaining elements, for example, tables, calendars, etc made into components so that when working on a product, a designer has the ability to edit and reuse certain elements in the iteration phase of design.

UI Components

UI components are basically reusable building blocks that are used throughout the screens. These generally consist of headers, tabs, menus, action bars, and cards, etc. The process is to make an element that will be used a lot in the screens once and make it a parent component, then use a copy of that parent component wherever it is needed.

The benefit of making a component is that all the elements will respond to change when it is made in the parent component and all the screens will be updated automatically. In this way, designers don’t have to go on to each screen and make the change which will take a lot of time and effort.

In conclusion, design systems play a very crucial part in the field of UI/UX design. It ensures a consistent design style resulting in providing the best user experience. A design system keeps on updating as designers move into the product development life cycle. New components keep on adding according to the requirements. A design system helps in creating visually appealing screens under the guidelines of design principles throughout the system.

Using a design system saves a lot of time and effort by offering a library of components. It helps designers as they use these predefined assets to design efficiently and consistently to provide the best user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).    

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