Getting Buy-In | Design Systems part 4

In part 4 of " The How, what & why of Design Systems" - How to Get buy-in.

Click here for part 1

Click here for part 2

Click here for part 3

Securing Support for Your Design System

It’s hard to sell a design system because people know that the resources spent on building it aren’t spent on actually building and shipping a product. So definitely expect pushback! Think about all the people that will be affected by it, including designers, engineers, program managers, stakeholders, product teams, and business teams like marketing and legal.

Do Preliminary Research

Before talking to anyone, you should do your research. Print out as much documentation to back up why you think this is a good idea. Since there are so many different groups that the design system will touch, you need to get consensus from all different groups in your organization.

This can be difficult for larger organizations. It really only works if people actually use it, so adoption is very important.

Find Out Who is Involved

Identify all the stakeholders who will be impacted by the design system. This includes not just designers and developers, but also product managers, marketing teams, and other business units. Getting their buy-in is crucial for the system's success.

Start with Peers

Before going directly to the top, get advocacy from your peers. Find other people who are passionate about the company’s brand. Once you have strength in numbers, then you can begin to sell it to the people with a budget and authority. If you try to please too many people, you’ll lose momentum. It might be best to have one liaison from each team.

Show Value in Their Language

Start educating your initial few folks first, and train them to sell it like you. Have them explain what it is and what its benefits are. Be cognizant of who you’re talking to. Ask each team what their problems are, and make sure you’re speaking their language and explaining what’s in it for them.

For developers, their problems are time reworking the code and confusion around the latest UI. Show them visuals of where the inconsistencies are.

For the business side, their concerns are money and the image of the entire brand. Don’t just say 'We need a design system'—explain why. Show them real data of the time spent creating specs versus actually creating new designs. This demonstrates how you would save money in time spent on redundant efforts. Talk to them about how a cohesive brand provides a better user experience.

Be Realistic

Show estimations of how long it will take, and be transparent about what might be pushed back when focusing on this. Listen to their concerns, and meet people where they’re at.

Core Purposes

At the end of the day, everyone should rally around one core purpose. Everyone wants the company to do well. So focus on what is best for the business, which is probably what is best for the user.

Prevent Too Many Cooks

The more people you talk to, the harder it is to get buy-in. Keep the group small to maintain focus and momentum. For tips on maintaining focus, see our article on improving workflow with design systems.

For more on this topic, visit our UI/UX design for SaaS and check out our top UI/UX agencies to work with for further insights.

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