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The Importance of Design Systems in User Interface Design

15 March 2023 •

By: Brent Expertise

First of all, what is a design system?

A design system is a collection of design elements and layout principles used to create a cohesive user experience across multiple platforms and products, such as responsive websites, software dashboards and mobile apps. They typically include typography, colour, layout, iconography, and animation, but are not limited to these components.

Design systems form the source of truth between design and development and ensure that what is being discovered and designed by the UX team translates well when handed over to the development team.

Design Systems in UI Design

How design systems impact a project and the team working on it

Design systems serve an important role in ensuring a product’s UI and experience are consistent and operate as efficiently as possible throughout iterations, the evolution of the product, and as it matures.

Having a well-maintained and up-to-date design system could mean the difference between having a product with one design language consistently themed across platforms, as opposed to a product that looks and feels patched together on top of older previous versions.

Companies and teams are often left with two options: integrate their design system and language into their existing product or build their product from the ground up, incorporating their design system principles and components from the outset. The latter often produces the cleanest results, as older code and outdated design can hide in places that may be overlooked during the overhaul process.

Why having a design system for your product is an absolute must these days

As products rapidly grow, the UI can become increasingly more complex and difficult to maintain, especially once the teams that design the product grow as well. Design systems provide an easy handoff to new starters in your team. They explain a lot about how the product is built without the need to set up training sessions. Additionally, they can help clarify the product's intended functionality to different teams.

Design Tokens give you control over your design system by assigning tags to each design option. This can include anything from border-radius or spacer units to colour and typography styles. It gives you control on a granular level, allowing you to reuse components and build layouts accurately. It also simplifies handover to developers by enabling them to easily pull a token for something like a button, and all the styles attached to that button will automatically populate - as opposed to speccing each detail and manually inputting it every time.

Having a well-organised and polished design system will also pave the way for your team to introduce design tokens into their development handoff processes, which, at this stage, is a game changer. It enables the design team to have full control over how layouts and components are styled, which will get deployed into the final product, with minimal back and forth between designers and developers.

Design Systems in UI Design


A design system is more than just a collection of elements. It is a set of principles and approaches to design that supports the product mission. Each page, screen, component, and element should be designed with a specific purpose and goal in mind. This ensures that the design system is tailored to the team and product, and is effective in creating a unified look and feel. By following a consistent set of design elements, designers can create a cohesive user experience that is easy to use and understand.

If you’re keen to learn more, here are some resources:

Atomic Design System

Design Tokens

More Design Tokens

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15 March 2023
By: Brent

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