Design systems - and what Lego has to do with them

A design system is extremely important for smooth and efficient development of digital products with a UI.

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Design System and Lego?!

Like the ever-popular Danish modular system, the design system is a tool to build things quickly and easily with simple basic principles.

Lego has its own rules that make it possible to build even complex objects. One rule would be that Lego doesn't want you to lay bricks across each other. Lego does limit, but gives a decent basic set of bricks to get creative and build a fire truck for example. The design system also limits the right components for a user interface.

A design system helps to design user interfaces. With a design system, I have ready-made components that I don't have to redesign or programme every time. Like in Lego, the components are not rigid, they may come in different colours or sizes. try to build a fire engine, but not with Lego bricks, but with wood, for example. The difference is clear. Wood is a great material and after watching 20 Youtube videos and investing a year of time, you might be able to build a decent fire engine. But with Lego (a design system) it would have taken a fraction of the time.

Why do I need a design system

As a UX designer, I don't want to make small design decisions like border radius, font sizes etc. for every feature. I simply don't want to slow myself down with that. What I really want is to take care of the user needs.

With a design system, a UX designer can pick up speed in the design process, have freedom to prototype and experiment.

As a software engineer, I have a similar advantage and can focus more on software architecture, data and logic than reprogramming the 20th button.

Overall, I have greater transparency and can better plan the time for individual features if I know what I already have and what still needs to be designed or developed.

How do I start?

A good start is to use an existing component library as a basis. This can then be given more and more custom components over time and adapted to your own use case. We recommend starting with Material Design or PrimeFaces.

More insights on design systems in the latest podcast episode!

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