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Design system collaboration: 5 ideas for designers & builders

  • Post published:October 14, 2022
  • Post category:HOW TO

We’ve all skilled the frustration of getting an excellent design thought, however not fairly with the ability to translate it into the completed product. When design and improvement groups aren’t aligned, it turns into more and more tough to deliver your design imaginative and prescient to life—inconceivable even.

Because of this design programs are so vital for your corporation. With a design system, you may obtain constant branding throughout all digital belongings and merchandise. These programs forge a hyperlink between the inventive experience of the design group and the extra technical proficiency of the builders, guaranteeing that each one tasks are executed to the identical excessive diploma of success. To place it merely, an excellent design system is vital to an excellent completed asset.

Design programs forge a hyperlink between the inventive experience of designers and the technical proficiency of builders.

However a design system can’t obtain this by itself. There nonetheless must be excessive ranges of collaboration and communication between groups, supporting the performance of the design system. With out this, model consistency will endure, tasks can be delayed, and that acquainted frustration will rear its head once more.

So, how is that this design system collaboration achieved? What can groups do to make sure exact and efficient communication? Let’s dig in.

✏️ Because of our mates at L’Agence Internet for sponsoring this weblog publish!

1. Unify designers and builders with shared terminology

The roles of designer and developer are very totally different. Whereas each roles work towards the identical purpose, they attain this purpose in numerous methods. Designers envisage the shape the challenge will take, whereas the developer applies their technical data and ability as they notice the imaginative and prescient.

This may not be an issue if there’s a full understanding of what must be achieved at every stage. For instance, if the designer has a quite simple temporary leading to a design with only some totally different components, builders will be capable to render this with out an excessive amount of bother—particularly if they’ve accomplished the duty earlier than. Sadly, that is typically not the case. For extra advanced design tasks, a more in-depth understanding is required.

There must be shared terminology that’s utilized by each designers and builders throughout the challenge: a shared language that each units of execs perceive.


Designers want to refer to paint components utilizing extremely specified terminology. They might want to assign particular labels to the colour components throughout the design system. This implies attaching particular labels for colours like “cherry pink” and “ruby pink” in order that builders don’t have to guess which shade of pink is which.

This shared language is the muse for collaborative efforts and can pace up communication and real-time collaborative work.

2. Handle file group

You may’t render beautiful designs when you can’t discover your information. Because of this it’s so crucial to increase the shared terminology and language to your design system file group. Groups have to know which file folders they’re working with, saving all their design tokens and accomplished belongings right into a centralized system, to allow them to be simply discovered by the following group that should use them.

Cloud storage options make this straightforward to realize. With cloud storage of tokens and belongings, any group, wherever on the planet, can discover the information they want. In fact, this nonetheless hinges on one issue: a standardized system of file naming and storage utilized by all groups and all group members.

3. Collaborate on design token administration

The shared terminology mentioned above is nice for discussing collaborative tasks and bringing collectively designer and developer roles with a shared language. But it surely must go additional than this. It must be embedded into the design system itself.

That is achieved by way of the systematic use of design tokens. When the design group decides on the structure or construction of the challenge, they’ll retailer this throughout the system as a design token. The token is a particular file that informs the event and last rendering of the challenge. Builders want to have the ability to entry this token and instantly see how rendering needs to be utilized.

A design token is a particular file that informs the event and last rendering of the challenge.

For design token administration, the shared language basically bridges the hole between design and improvement. When the designer decides and saves this as a token, they’re already translating their very own imaginative and prescient right into a improvement element.

Designers can use pre-existing tokens already saved into the system, or they’ll create new tokens particular to this explicit challenge. If builders wish to question a particular design token with the design group, the designers will know instantly what’s being mentioned as a result of the shared terminology is embedded into the system.


4. Assist shared duties with real-time collaborative instruments

What we’ve mentioned to this point is taken into account collaboration, but it surely’s solely a rudimentary type of collaboration. Within the fashionable design and improvement panorama, groups have to work collectively successfully, not merely finishing one process and handing it on to the following group, however working facet by facet and in full communication.

Companies can’t depend upon design and improvement groups sharing an workplace house. As a substitute, the operational construction is more likely to be extra unfold out, with distant groups working in numerous places across the nation, and even throughout worldwide borders. This makes enterprise-level connectivity and collaboration two must-haves for groups engaged on a design challenge.

A high-quality design system will embrace collaborative options to some extent. Design tokens may be saved and saved by way of cloud buildings, prepared for simple entry in distant places, whereas token importing and administration will happen in real-time, supporting concurrent work on the challenge.

However to improve this concurrent work to collaborative work, groups can even want efficient communication instruments. Video collaboration instruments and safe on the spot messaging options maintain groups on the identical web page, constructing upon the muse supplied by the shared terminology and the saved design tokens.

5. Automate components of asset design

Collaboration and communication are predominately handbook options, with groups working collectively ‘nose to nose’ by way of digital connections. Nonetheless, automation nonetheless has an vital function to play. 

Automation gives a component of autonomy to improvement groups as they perform points of the design course of themselves forward of rendering. Efficient collaboration relies upon upon this autonomy. Improvement groups can’t at all times wait to get the inexperienced gentle from design groups, as these designers could also be busy engaged on different tasks. As a substitute, dev groups have to be empowered to behave with autonomy and decisiveness.

Dev groups have to be empowered to behave with autonomy and decisiveness.

Design tokens aren’t one-off items of coding—they’re information which are saved throughout the construction of the design system. This will speed up the job of the designers, as they draw upon pre-existing tokens to make sure design consistency, however it could possibly additionally help builders on the identical time. Builders can use these pre-stored tokens to finish their very own easy design duties, accelerating the trail to improvement and deployment.


Designers and builders in concord 🤝

It’s time for a conceptual shift with regards to design and improvement. Designers and builders aren’t wholly separate entities, working with their very own playbooks and finest practices. They’re two sides of the identical coin, pursuing the identical objectives and targets. With the proper method to collaboration and communication, supported by a extremely efficient design system, this unification is straightforward to realize.

The end result? Model consistency throughout all merchandise and belongings, and a streamlined means of design and improvement.

🎨 Illustrations by Violetta Barsuk from Ouch!

✏️ Concerning the writer: Dorian Colin is the Model Designer at Aircall, the cloud-based cellphone system designed with fashionable companies in thoughts. Aircall seeks to empower companies throughout a variety of fields with connectivity options that go well with their numerous wants.

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