I want my Design System medium
A few days ago while eating at a fashionable hamburger site, there was a conversation about how the quality had been reduced as new sites were opened and during the conversation there were 3 phrases that caught my attention:
"They don't make them with love anymore"
"They've systematized the process and they've escalated it to the beast, without looking at quality"
"Well, McDonalds has been doing it for 80 years and it works for them"
The part that made me think was that we are seeing a hamburger whose value proposition is to be gourmet, of quality and with know-how, but that when we systematize it, losing sight of the quality of the processes and the ingredients, irremediably ends up being transformed into something of low quality, being able to compete with other hamburgers.with any fast food product. Along the way we have degraded the product and customer satisfaction, but we have achieved commercial success.
Now let's transfer this idea to the world of digital product design and design systems, because they are not so far away.
I have participated in the creation of design systems, and in fact, I am currently working on designing one product with another, and honestly I am not convinced that a "Design System" is the panacea for all design problems in companies. In fact, if they are not built well they tend to induce chaos.
I think the question that we can start with and that few people are asking right now is:
Do I really need a design system and am I willing to accept the implications?
A system is something that must be organic, that you have to take care of and maintain, because in reality it is the backbone of your product, only instead of seeing it as a unit, it is the quartering of it into components, processes, decisions... In fact a system is more than a product, it is something that must transform the organization and certain processes that must orbit around it.
Many times I get the feeling that systems (or what is known as systems) are being designed because "it's what we have to do now" and it turns out that putting the colors in a grid, the hierarchy of typographies, 4 fields of forms and some card, is not a design system.
In fact it is a Component Library... or even that, a style guide.
By this I mean that we ourselves should reflect on the system we're designing and be honest with ourselves about whether it's really useful, necessary and scalable or just something we've shaped into a "system" to sell like that.
In architecture architects are usually told that they should live two years in the houses they have designed... and I think that designers should also ask ourselves a question:
Do we use the "systems" we design? Or does it just end up being an orderly pixel deliverable, which will never be like that again once used because it doesn't make sense?
A design system has to be thought to be used by people. We are designing for other designers, maquetadores, developers, business people ... In short, we are designing the design of an organization, with the aim of laying the foundations on which it can grow and scale in a responsible, controlled, and quality. And I think this is something we should not forget.
Finally, a "Design System" is not something that you buy and put to work and that's it, because possibly you end up falling into "fast food design"; that is, using a system as a base and excuse to scale the product at any cost damaging its quality and that, in the end, is perceived by the user.
And at the same time I don't agree with myself.
Going back to the hamburger simile...
Before, I was talking about the loss of the "made with love" when the elaboration of this one had been systematized and scaled without modesty, well, it gives me the sensation that with all this slope of design systems it is dehumanizing the design, making it cold, and losing the craft of the "craftsmanship", making it stop being something organic to be an industrial product.
But well, so much talking about hamburgers has whetted my appetite, and about the industrialization of design if that's what we're talking about another day :)