Aug 03, 2020
Design systems' area of influence: Identity (1/3)
When I get a team to kick off the design systems. I have a lot of questions. What the team should do? Make components? Make a UI kit? Tell people what color should be used? Make motion guidelines? It can be overwhelming and complex to start about design systems.
Ultimately, like many things in a company, the design systems team is also responsible for the customer experience. However, that is not something the design systems team can directly make an impact on. Design systems should achieve this by enabling product teams who deliver the end result by using design systems. Design systems support product teams to produce the outcome. Design systems should provide tools to enable product teams to work efficiently, faster. For example, they don’t need to have a discussion about the margin on the buttons.
This is the mindset the design systems team should hold onto (will talk more about this later). There are 3 areas of influence for design systems to focus on: Identity, Offering, and Service.
First, identity. At its core, design systems should help company reflect the vision and creative direction for its identity, to be one of the differentiators from competitors. Design systems team should collaborate with the team who responsible for the company’s brand identity. The goal is to translate the identity to the product.
If the company wants to target a low middle-income audience, design systems should reflect that in their design strategy and execute that way. This is where the fundamental research about your customers will be valuable. What behavior do we see from customers? In what context they use our products? What competitor products do they use? What are the usability issues we constantly found? All these questions will be the root and foundation of design systems. It’s crucial to collaborate with the brand team if such team exist in the company. This collaboration is natural because it’s mutual because brand team need to reflect the brand into the product. At the same time, design systems team need to understand the latest direction on the brand, the brand essence, and marketing.
This foundation of identity will help every decision along the way. Such as, should we make the spacing compact or airy? How playful our animation should be to reflect our identity? How calm should we design our sound? A lot of these decisions will affect the cohesiveness of your overal brand identity.
Stay tuned for another post!