Converging Ideas and Establishing Principles | Design Systems Part 5

In part 5 (the finale) of " The How, what & why of Design Systems" - Converging Ideas and Establishing Principles.

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Click here for part 2

Click here for part 3

Click here for part 4

Next is where everyone converges on their ideas. In this step, you’ll want to include as many people as possible. Ask everyone for their values, vision, methods, and goals.

Determine Design Principles

These will be the reference point when there’s a problem. Get everyone involved by asking some basic, open-ended questions:

  • What is most important to the business?

  • What’s unique about what we’re providing?

They can answer via polls, email, 1:1 interviews, or Google forms—anonymous or not. When you start to hear the same things repeatedly, that’s where you’ll find your principles. List them in order of priority.

Determine How Success Will Be Measured

From the beginning, define how your success will be measured. This includes:

  • Cost and time required

  • Priorities

  • Strategy to follow through on those priorities

Look to management for these answers.

Figure Out Who Creates the Design System

Collective ownership is crucial. Ensure multiple people are involved so that when people leave, the knowledge isn’t lost. There are a few ways you can structure this:

  1. Solitary Design Team: One person manages the design system.

  2. Centralized Design Team: 1-2 people from several teams work on both.

  3. Federated Design Team: A specific team dedicated to managing the design system.

How Will You Build Your Design Team?

  • Solitary: One person manages the design system.

  • Centralized: 1-2 people from several teams work on both.

  • Federated: Specific team dedicated to managing the design system.

Questions to Ask Your Coworkers

Use these questions as a guide to help determine your design principles and plan:

  • What is your vision for the company?

  • What do you value most?

  • How do you measure success?

  • What are your obstacles?

  • What methods do you use to do your work?

  • What are some areas of risk that you foresee?

By gathering these insights, you can create a comprehensive design system that reflects the collective vision and goals of your organization. For more detailed guidance, check out Nathan Curtis's 'Team Models for Scaling a Design System' here.

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