Designing with a system goes by many names: atomic design, pattern libraries, modular design, component-based design…but regardless of what you call it, implementing a system can help make a project more consistent and scalable, and your team more efficient. In the recently released 2017 Design in Tech Report from John Maeda, shareable design systems are specifically called out, suggesting the method definitely having a moment. But, one thing we’ve noticed about all the discussion about design systems is that—generally speaking—they’re all from in-house groups. What about using a design system as a consultant?

Peace Corps Pattern Library - Color Palette

During the O’Reilly Design Conference in San Francisco last week, I had the pleasure of speaking to a engaged audience about design systems from the consultant’s perspective. My co-speaker and I defined a design system during our session, but also the benefits and some tips—all through the lens of an enormous project we completed together just last year where we found a design system absolutely essential to the project and for the team. In the second half of our presentation, our agency perspective added value to the overall design systems discussion when we reviewed how to get buy in from a client and from management, how a system can benefit a project’s budget, and how to support your client throughout the process. Project managers and sales teams rejoice! Slides from that presentation are available here.
Design System Example

We’re really excited to give an evolved version of this presentation in Baltimore at DrupalCon in April. We got some great feedback about the initial discussion and look forward to shaping it even more for the Drupal community audience. Our experience using design systems has taught us some important lessons, and we look forward to sharing those with this important audience in hopes that design systems become a standard option for digital projects in agencies in the future. Make sure you register for DrupalCon in Baltimore!

Amy is Taoti’s Senior Designer and makes form and function sing. Send us a note to chat with Amy about your upcoming project.