What is a Design System? And Why Every Business Needs One
Let's pretend for a moment that there was no coordination in your workplace. It's every man for himself, the office becoming a vast whirlwind of chaos as cubicles burn in the background. Anarchy and violence reign over all who dare enter!
Okay, so we got a little carried away. But a workplace with no coordination would fall apart at the seams, right? In the confusing world of digital products, what systems can you use to keep order?
Well, wonder no longer. We're here to give you the answers to the questions, "What is a design system?" and "Why does every business need one?" So sit back, take a deep breath, and let's dive in!
What Is a Design System?
A design system is a grouping of various pictures/media/styles that you compile to build your marketing strategy and give it a cohesive feel. It's how your brand and company are represented to the audience.
Each piece of the design system should work by itself (they are not dependent on their cohesion). After all, that old saying about how a chain is only as strong as its weakest link applies to design styles too.
It's like if you were an artist. You tend to use the same tools as every other artist, but you might mix your paints a certain way or use an unorthodox paint source like crushed berries. In these variations, you craft your unique design style -- what sets you apart from other companies.
It's important to note that a design system is different from a mere list of the rules for designing certain logos or icons of a brand. A design system uses that list in combination with other elements like web design and artistic "flavoring" to make a bigger statement.
Design systems cover the utilitarian aspect as well.
For example, if you have a button or drop-down tab on your website, it should function in an identical manner to any other button or drop-down tab on the site. This helps to prevent confusion and makes your business look more put-together in the customer's eye.
A design system also acts as a unifying vision for the entire company.
Since everyone has the same guide on how to keep the corporate brand consistent, there won't be any distracting stylistic deviations in your brand awareness campaign. Plus, your brand won't get dragged into a different direction if everyone has to use the same pool of tools.
The Importance of Design Systems
So why are design systems vital to your company? For starters, you're going to make way more money.
A study by the Design Management Institute in 2015 found that companies with a strong design system outperformed typical S&P businesses in the stock market by 211%. That means your company pulls in double the profits if you adhere to a design system strategy.
This will more than compensate for the start-up cost your company will have to endure when starting up a design language system from scratch.
Another reason to implement a design system is that for a lot of people, first impressions are everything. 94% of consumers in a study said they got their first impression from the design and layout of a company's website, with only 6% citing the content of the site as the source of the impression.
Without a strong design system, you will lose customers on your site regardless of the strength of your product or service.
A good design system also saves you time in the long run. After all, once you have a unified vision for your company's visual brand aesthetic (in a sense), you don't have to spend as much time coming up with fresh stuff every time a new application needs to get developed.
This frees up your marketing team to spend more time engaging with the customers rather than hunkered behind a desk scribbling like mad.
That said, a critical mistake businesses make is not keeping an eye on how their design system is performing. You can fix problems with your marketing or brand with more speed than if you had no design language system, but taking your eye off the ball will cost you.
The bigger your corporation is, the bigger an impact a disorganized brand will have on your public image.
For any big corporations who don't want to spend time designing their style, you can contract companies to make the style for you! They'll work in close tandem with you, making sure that the final result is a strong design style you will have pride in.
The Importance of Cohesion
One of the most important benefits a design system gives you is a sense of brand unity and consistency. But why does that matter?
For starters, it improves how customers see your brand. Your corporation looks much more professional and responsible when all the elements of design for your brand gel. Once customers have this positive impression of your brand, you can build trust and loyalty with them.
This trust and loyalty will then translate into customers buying up your product or service, which means more money in your pocket.
Finally, having a cohesive design language system helps set you apart from other businesses. In the age of the Internet, it's never been easier to compare companies head-to-head. So when you implement a strong design style, you will stand above the rest of the crowd and help customers flock to your brand.
This doesn't mean your burger restaurant can go toe-to-toe with McDonald's, but it does mean that you stand apart and attract their customers.
What Are You Still Standing Around Here For?
Now that you know the answers to the fabled questions, "What is a design system" and "Why does every business need one?" what are you still doing here? Get out there and create your own brand identity!
Before you go, however, consider checking out some past design systems done by Authentic Studio to get some inspiration for your corporation! Until next time, stay sharp and remember the importance of design systems!