The Industrialization of Product Design

almost 4 years ago from Nick Dominguez, Product Designer

  • Miles ReiterMiles Reiter, almost 4 years ago

    That's a really good question. First off I'd like to preface this with the disclaimer that I'm working as a UX team of one. I do have processes that involve quite a bit of self-critique and require defending design decisions to myself before moving forward in any way. Mileage may vary when applying any of it to an actual team with, you know, other people on it.

    Basically, I see the general concept of a design system as needing to be framed as just another part of a designer's toolbox. There are a ton of different research and design techniques that are a part of a good designer's toolbox. Being effective is all about knowing what tool or tools to use at any given time. Which processes to apply to what situations under whatever other circumstances you're facing.

    Design Systems are an extension of this same idea. They're another one of our tools and another part of our process. They're about making it easier to maintain consistency and shared assets that make it easier and faster to visualize our designs. They're not really about being an unchanging list of design commandments.

    When we design things, there's almost always more to iterate on, more to improve and fine tune. Design systems are again the same in respect to that. They're great at speeding things up and keeping things consistent, but I don't know that they should affect the process of determining new solutions to things all that much.

    I see them as fitting in more like this: 1. Determine the best solution to the problem 2. Use your design system as much as possible to reconcile it with your existing product. 3. If your solution requires components not in your design system, does it have any that do the job just as well? 4. If it doesn't, maybe you should design one and make an addition to the system. 5. Have you discovered better ways to do anything that aren't represented by your design system during the above process? Maybe it should be amended accordingly.

    You see Google doing this kind of stuff all the time with Material Design, especially because they're so big on A/B testing wildly experimental new things out in the wild (subject for a different day). The idea being though, to primarily focus on designing the best solution rather than adhering to your existing design system. Sometimes that will involve being able to implement nothing but components that already exist in your system, sometimes that will involve tweaking existing ones, or designing new ones entirely.

    I probably said all that in many more words than I needed to, but it proved to be pretty fun to verbalize what was previously just a bunch of fairly nebulous ideas floating around my head.

    What are you and your team's thoughts on all that?

    5 points