BLOGS / The Importance of a Design System

The Importance of a Design System

Written By:

Sabrina Silveira

With almost a decade of designing and managing websites and applications for organizations with varying levels of complexity, I have learned that effective communication among stakeholders is critical. Whether it's engineers, marketing, designers, or data analysts, ensuring everyone is on the same page is essential when designing and iterating new and existing products.

Photo by Balázs Kétyi on Unsplash

Photo by Balázs Kétyi on Unsplash

Without clear communication, inconsistencies and misalignments can quickly arise, particularly when onboarding new designers and developers. Investing in a Design System pays off by enabling efficient collaboration and allowing for the quick production of the experiences your customers desire while maintaining your brand's consistency.

What is a Design System?

A comprehensive Design System should cover the entire design platform, including but not limited to: design tools, brand identity components such as colour, typography, voice, and photography, UI and app components, code and content libraries, data analytics, documentation, workflow, and much more. A robust Design System can save teams time and effort by reusing existing elements rather than starting from scratch, resulting in increased productivity, a streamlined design process and clear communication. There are four key areas where a design system can significantly transform your business: scalability, consistency, speed, and a unified language.


Having a well-designed foundation makes it easier to generate new features as the business needs grow. It allows for more efficient use of resources and faster development times, as teams can reuse pre-existing design elements rather than starting from scratch with each new project.


By establishing a set of design guidelines and patterns, teams can ensure that all products have a cohesive look and feel, resulting in a more seamless user experience. This consistency also makes it easier for users to navigate and interact with the products, as they can quickly learn and recognize the design elements.


With a set of pre-existing design elements and patterns, designers can quickly create new mockups and features without spending time on the initial design stages. This allows teams to spend more time developing and implementing new features, resulting in faster product releases.

Unified Language

A design system creates a unified language for several departments within the organization. The different professionals and departments have a shared understanding of the design elements and how they should be used. This unified language also makes it easier for teams to communicate with each other and external stakeholders, resulting in a more efficient and productive workflow.

Creating a Design System

Design System development need not be limited to the early stages of product development. A well-experienced design team can generate it by analyzing existing styles and components, documenting, organizing and creating missing elements that can be essential for success in the future.

While open-source systems such as Material Design (Google) and Carbon (IBM) provide useful guidance for designers to follow good UX practices, the impact of having a customized system that aligns with business needs and values is much greater. Large corporations like Airbnb, Uber, and Shopify have reaped benefits from implementing their own custom design systems, allowing them to introduce new features and expand their businesses quickly. Even smaller organizations can benefit from developing their own design systems, saving time and money.

The system is not a static set of rules, it’s an evolving ecosystem that should be constantly cared for and managed to ensure that it continues to be aligned with the company's needs and values. One of the most efficient softwares to manage design systems currently is Figma but most web design softwares have the ability for it.

TribalStudio—Your Design Innovation Partners

As part of our TribalStudio design services, we partner with clients to build their design systems from the ground up. Read more about our design services here.

In need of a design partner? Have design-related inquiries? Get in touch with us here.


Sabrina Silveira is a product designer at Tribal Scale. She’s passionate about making digital solutions more accessible and appealing to people through good and simple design. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her daughter, running or drawing.