Design systems ensure alignment, reusability, and consistency across a project or brand. And while we have gotten very good at breaking down UIs into reusable components, a lot of design systems aren’t as useful and practical as they could be, or they aren’t even used at all. So how can you make sure that the work you and your team put into a design system really pays off? How can you create a design system that everyone loves to use?

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at interesting design systems that have mastered the challenge and at resources that help you do the same. We’ll explore how to deal with naming conventions, how motion and accessibility fit into a design system, and dive deep into case studies, Figma kits, and more. We hope that some of these pointers will help you create a design system that works well for you and your team.

The Olympic Games are probably one of the most widely recognized brands in the world. Since the birth of the modern Games more than 125 years ago, hundreds of people have grown and enhanced the Olympic brand. To increase consistency, efficiency and impact across all that they do, the IOC hired a Canadian agency to create a comprehensive design system that conveys the timeless values of the Olympic Games and propels the brand into the future.

Stories, core messages, facts, and plenty of examples and templates provide a solid foundation for creating texts and designs across the brand — be it on the web, in social media, or print. A special highlight of Estonia’s design system lies on authentic photos and custom design attributes such as wordmarks and boulders to underline the message.

Along with brand appearance guidelines and UI components, a handy feature of the design system is its comprehensive set of visual examples of how a component should (and shouldn’t) be used in Audi’s interfaces. There is also a Audi UI Kit for Figma and a Sketch UI library that ensure that designers use the most up-to-date components and icons in their products.

The design system features content guidelines, accessibility considerations, code examples, components, and contextual examples of how to use them. It also provides guidelines around UX writing and helpful visual guides to accessibility and logo. Everything is open source on GitHub and NPM.

Data is pretty much useless if we can’t make sense of it. Luckily, data visualization helps us tell the full story. But how to include data visualization in a design system? Here are some examples.

In her blog post, Elena starts with the smallest visual element, an icon, explaining what her team aims for when choosing and creating icons to make them align with the brand and provide real value for the user. Elena also shares insights into how they handle illustrations, including a scalable way of creating them and considerations regarding anatomy, style, and color. A great example of how a set of established rules can help make visuals more meaningful.

As Pavithra Ramamurthy, Senior Product Designer at Salesforce, explains, the intention behind the Salesforce Kinetics System is to enable the evolution and scaling of kinetic patterns across products, with design system components that are pre-baked with motion right out-of-the-box.

As Adam explains, an enterprise design system is a system of best practices, reusable design elements, processes, usage guidelines, and patterns that help reinforce the brand, improve the UX design process, and optimize the user experience. He compares it to a box of Lego: the building blocks are the collection of code and design components, the building instructions that you’ll usually find inside the box correspond to a collection of guidelines, processes, and best practices that ensure that co-designing and cross-collaboration are seamless. If your enterprise traverses numerous sites or apps, Adam’s writeup is a great opportunity to get familiar with the concept of enterprise design systems.

Jules explains how to define the KPIs for your design system and how to get quantitative data measurements to learn more about a design system’s efficiency. Qualitative data conducted with the help of surveys and interviews make the narrative more compelling. Of course, Jules also takes a closer look at how to use the data. As he concludes, measuring a design system is challenging and requires time, but it will be a goldmine and one of the essential levers for your design system’s growth and sustainability.

The ROI calculator helps you understand and project cost savings when implementing a design system. It calculates total employee savings from implementing a design system, as well as time saving and efficiency gain by component or UI element. To estimate total savings, you can select between different scenarios based on team size and product calculation.

Having robust components and patterns that can be reused in different situations is the essential idea behind every design system and often seems like the magical wand everyone has waited for to solve challenges and improve collaboration. Henry Escoto, UX & Design at FOX Corporation, offers a perspective on design systems that is a bit different. He claims that it’s actually the practice which can truly make a difference.

Written for cross-disciplinary teams of design, engineering, and product, the workbook consists of a 130-page PDF and FigJam prompts and Figma templates you’ll use to complete activities. No theory, only clear instructions on what to do and how to do it over a 90-day timeframe. At $349, the workbook isn’t cheap, but considering that it can save you about 6–9 months of figuring out what work to do, the investment is definitely worth considering.

Have you come across a design system you found helpful? Or a resource or case study that eased your work and that you’d like to share with others? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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