Enterprises consistently prioritize system thinking, placing particular emphasis on the capacity to scale their products and solutions. This poses challenges for UX designers including the limited number of designers available to maintain pace, the ability to cope with growing technical debt, and the ongoing hurdles of a maturing team.
In reality, scalability is not the ultimate goal. No one wakes up in the morning thinking, “I aspire to be more scalable.” What they’re truly after is increased velocity.
Interestingly, the term ‘Scalability’ is hard to define. We know why we want it—we want to go faster and grow. We know how it works—systems are designed with the ability to be repeatable. But what actually is it? What are the key elements that make something scalable?
Let’s delve into how a UX designer incorporates design thinking into their process of constructing a scalable system.
- Choose a design application (e.g. Figma, Sketch).
- Start a component Library—stay away from a design system until not having one holds you back.
- Understand that everything you build right now will come with technical debt and that’s ok.
- Begin transitioning your component library into a design system.
- Understand how to apply Atomic Design’s philosophy into your system.
- Create design system documentation.
- Potentially build a 1-to-1 system with your codebase (something like Storybook helps).
- Create a designated design system team for maintenance. They will maintain the system when new brand standards occur, your design application comes out with new features, and when accessibility standards change.
- Create maintenance documentation
- Create a governance model
- Schedule Design Ops with your team (i.e. weekly, monthly).
- Schedule Design Studio to review team designs.
- Create onboarding documentation.
- Develop a centralized knowledge base.
- Potentially create a commons library per product that uses the design system.
- Create a pattern library for all products that use your design system.
All of these features should enable a UX design team to increase their velocity and scale to the needs of any organization.