Leading a Design System

What is a Design System Lead and their responsibilities?

A Design System Lead is responsible for leading the creation, maintenance, and evolution of a design system within an organization. Remember that a a design system is a collection of guidelines, components, and tools used to create a consistent and cohesive user experience across different products, platforms, and channels.

These are some of the roles of a Design System Lead that typically includes the following responsibilities:

Leading a Design System

1. Developing and documenting the design system: The Design System Lead is responsible for creating a comprehensive documentation that describes the components, patterns, and guidelines that make up the design system.

  • If you are re-building of improving an existing design system of having the good luck of creating a new one from scratch, a good idea could be looking for references of famous Design Systems.
  • Also you can evaluate some platforms especially created for documenting design systems like Zeroheight or Supernova.io

2. Collaborating with designers and developers: The Design System Lead works closely with designers and developers to ensure that the design system is used correctly, and that new components and patterns are consistent with existing ones.

  • Be strategic on this, know your key collaborators and get them onboard with the design system,
  • Promote motivation and a good environment for collaboration,
  • Setting weekly sync meetings with designers and developers is very important.

3. Establishing and enforcing design standards: The Design System Lead is responsible for setting and enforcing design standards to ensure consistency across all products and platforms.

  • If your design system relies on an existing framework like bootstrap or material ui, you must stay sync with developers when you are creating, naming your components and props this can help us to avoid communication problems between designers and developers.
  • Try to use standard components, don’t force bizarre behaviours and only in certain scenarios design new or customize some components.

4. Managing the design system team: The Design System Lead may manage a team of designers and developers responsible for maintaining the design system.

  • As designers sometimes we can get the whole picture of the design system in code, so we need to work closely with developers, look for the developer with great skills, enthusiasm and knowledge that can lead other developers working in the design system with you. We don’t know everything, ask for help.

5. Evangelizing the design system: The Design System Lead promotes the use of the design system across the organization, and educates stakeholders on its benefits and best practices.

  • As I’m a shy person this cost me a lot, but there are some work arounds you can do to promote your Design System like bimonthly meetings with all the teams to present the advances and the state of the design system.
  • Create a newsletter and some short videos explaining the benefits and advantages of the design system.
  • Make workshops especially for junior UI designers, UX designers and also any member of your team or people in your organization that wants to know more about the design system.

6. Monitoring and evolving the design system: The Design System Lead continuously monitors the design system and its usage to identify areas for improvement, and evolves the system to meet the changing needs of the organization and its users.

Overall, the Design System Lead plays a critical role in ensuring that the design system is a valuable asset for the organization, and that it enables the creation of consistent and high-quality user experiences.


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