Before you start designing components, get some tips on which pieces you’ll want to start with, and how to keep everyone aligned throughout the process.
- [Instructor] Before we head into Sketch and start designing components, we need to establish a base. I'm going to give you some tips on which pieces you'll want to start with and how to keep everyone aligned throughout the process. So, you're going to be rebuilding each of your components one at a time from the ground up. So, what you're going to want to do is create the order for which you're going to tackle each component. So, we have a prioritized list from start to finish from the component checklist, but we need to break these out week by week. Maybe this week, I'm going to tackle these components and then this week I'm going to tackle these components.
This allows you to create a timeline and backlog for the components you may not get to in this version of the design system. You're going to want to start with the smallest components first. These are things like color, typography, iconography, units of measure, response of grids, and spacing. So, to find a base unit for your grid, how many columns are in the grid? Then define pieces which inform others. So, you're going to want to design buttons before you can design forms, things like that.
Align on what you're going to name each component. Is it going to be a drop-down or a select input? Define common terms used to refer to each item and name the patterns in an agnostic way to reduce duplication and ensure scalability. Write down specific reasons why you made certain design decisions. This helps you rationalize your thinking later and when other people ask you why you made certain design decisions, you'll be able to remember and back up why you did something a certain way. It will also help you write the guidelines and documentation for the components as team members start to utilize parts of the system.
For a design system to thrive and survive, it needs a sufficient level of management and organization. So, make sure you're scheduling weekly reviews with stakeholders and your developers. You'll need buy-in and validation of ideas from the product donors and the users of the system, and the developers need to be there to validate designs and make sure that everything is feasible from a development standpoint. Who maintains the design system going forward? What is the contribution process? How is it going to be shared out? All of these questions are going to need to be answered before the system goes live.
Successful design systems are in constant service to many audiences, designers, developers, product managers, and of course the end user. That spirit of service means that keepers of the system have to keep their ego at bay. A design system is not a place to push new frontiers, but rather to gather settled solutions. Before you start designing, there's one important thing to consider. A design system is a living thing that evolves. So Nathan Curtis really put it best when he said, "A design system isn't a project.
It's a product serving products. A design system is not simply a style guide. It's a living thing, whose value is only realized when products successfully implement the patterns of the system. It needs to be maintained and allow for growth." Creating a base before you get started designing is really important. A lot of important pieces will come out of asking the right questions and figuring everything out early on. So, it's crucial to take the proper steps before starting such a large endeavor.