How and Why Do We Build Design Systems? projekt202's Adam Zeiner Has the Answers


Design systems have many advantages. They can scale thoughtful, motivated design decision-making in an organization; speed up development time; and create a cogent, reliable user experience, to name only three. Yet there's plenty of debate over understanding and defining exactly what a design system is.

To provide answers and clarity, Austin Design Week is presenting "Up with the System: How and Why We Build Design Systems" on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The discussion will address the trials and tribulations of building design systems in unique environments, such as corporate, agency and startup; best practices for initiating and building a design system; and leveraging the short- and long-term benefits.

projekt202 UX Designer Adam Zeiner hopes the discussion will clear up any ambiguity.

projekt202 UX Designer Adam Zeiner
projekt202 UX Designer Adam Zeiner

"My assumption is that many design practitioners and the clients they work with outside of the software space may not have any familiarity with design systems," said Adam, who will be one of the panelists on Tuesday. "Often, there is a lot of difficulty in proving the value and then selling a long-term undertaking that doesn't immediately result in tangible design artifacts. The business expects and asks for something they can see, touch or react to from design teams."

Designers have to focus on systems thinking rather than simply delivering artifacts, he said.

"Understanding that whichever touchpoint you are currently designing for is part of a larger system, will likely result in a more efficient system and a less annoyed user," said Adam, an active speaker and mentor in Austin's design community. "Designers should work to champion systems thinking in their engagements with clients of all sizes. As much as possible, they should push back against clients looking for quick results that haven't been thought through."

Diagrams are key to ensuring all project participants are on the same page. They also provide a tangible element that can satisfy clients eager for a physical design reference.

"It can do wonders to convey the business value and the long-term production value of a design system," Adam said. "Not only does it give design teams more flexibility and time for critical thinking in the long run, but it works to enforce consistency throughout product suites. It also provides clients and design teams with a really strong, thought-through foundation to scale product efforts on. The stronger the foundation, the stronger the user-facing application."

Up with the System: How and Why We Build Design Systems
Noon - 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016
General Assembly Austin
600 Congress Ave., 14th Flr.
Austin, TX 78701

Austin Design Week 2016 runs Nov. 7-11. projekt202 is proud to be a Gold Sponsor of the inaugural event.

See the full schedule for Austin Design Week.

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