Blog: Hello Design System World 👋🏽
tl;dr Having an agreed-upon, yet flexible, common design language between teams is a three-thumbs-upper 👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽. But it's only going to be as good and useful as your team's individual and collective level of empathy toward your users' experiences.
I'm excited to be in a position where I can formally support and advance my colleagues' work, for instance, in assembling a design system for enhancing the digital work we do on tesla.com
Staying close to your users and their problems
As the last few years have unfolded, I have had great opportunities to grow into leadership positions at Tesla. During this time, I remained (and remain) close to the work that my product, design and software engineering teammates experience day-in, day-out... within reason of course.
I remain close to the ground to stay near the problems that need solving, both, immediately and long-term. By staying close, this doesn't mean I need to make the micro-level, minute-by-minute decisions, nor do I want to: this is why I intentionally build and mentor a team of individuals whos' judgment I trust completely. What this does mean, however, is that I carefully listen, observe, study and reflect on the problems, challenges and general feedback reported on by both my teammates and users of our flagship product. To take it a step further, beyond listening and responding to feedback, my team and I pivot our perspective to also include ourselves as customers of our own products, so we can attempt to see and experience what our customers would experience firsthand with our product. #Empathy
Design System: A Common Language Between Teams
With this in mind, one area that my team and I have identified that would benefit greatly from some intentional (re)focus and prioritization for leveling-up our collaboration and product output, specifically in the design, product and software engineering circles, is the adoption of a common language between the aforementioned teams; in other words, a
design system. A design system is not entirely new, and they exist now by other names in other disciplines, however, they're not yet common as a critical asset in product engineering teams.
Our customers of the product become the ultimate beneficiaries of a high-quality, consistent brand and user-friendly product. It's a win-win.
What's a Design System?
For our purposes and context, we're focusing the scope and meaning of a design system to mean:
a common visual language agreed to and used by cross-functional teams, typically but not limited to design, product and software engineering.
Projects can get messy; especially, in the ever-changing tech world. Learn about and leverage design systems to help bring order-to-chaos and assist with scaling your projects with quality, consistency and confidence.
This common visual language can then be used for creating robust, extensible and consistent UI pattern libraries. When there is a common set of goals and patterns within a visual language, cross-functional teams can not only work more efficiently, but they can do so in a more confident manner, knowing that their individual and collective, collaborative work is conistent with the product's brand with the added potential of more easily scaling the work and implementing iterative changes on varying product concepts with high-quality. And, with that, our customers of the product become the ultimate beneficiaries of a high-quality, consistent brand and user-friendly product. It's a win-win. 🙌🏽
From Grassroots to Company-wide Adoption
I'm excited to be in a position where I can formally support and advance my colleagues' work, for instance, in assembling a design system for enhancing the digital work we do on tesla.com and internally throughout the company. It's also exciting to see this effort be taken from an internal grassroots level (something we've been researching and building out on our own in-between the high-volume of work we put out on any given day) to a more formalized project with support by other leaders throughout the company.
I am human, a father, and a problem solver: a tech and people leader with a passion and proven track-record in building and leading compassionate, productive teams—remote and on-site—within a continuous learning culture. My teams and I champion usable, inclusive digital products and online experiences. My work, passion and intentions also intersect with advising small businesses and political campaigns, life-long learning, outdoor advocacy, community building, and uplifting others. Learn more about Manny