Design Language Systems

A design language system (DLS) is critical to the success of a product, a suite of products and for a brand itself.

So What Is It And Why Do We Specialize In It?

It’s an overarching set of design rules that maintains harmony across an ecosystem of digital products. It helps you deliver optimal product experiences on all platforms.”

Key Drivers

  • Brand: Purpose and values, recognizability, identity & guidelines.
  • Design Principles: High level statements that guide the design process, driven by user research. They provide a reference point for all decisions, and help define what to build or not to build. They provide a reference point for all decisions, and help define what to build or not to build.
  • Products: Features, industry, users.
  • Individual Elements of the Design Language
  • Industry Standards & Best Practices
  • User Research
  • Business Goals & Requirements

Examples of Design Language Elements 

  • Brand Identity & Visual Design (logo, colors, typography, icons, tone of voice, night/day theme, etc.)
  • Grids & Responsiveness
  • Motion & Interaction (navigation, page flows, gestures, voice, clicks, selections, states, modals)
  • UI Components & Patterns (buttons, data entry, lists, controls, menus, sliders, tabs, text fields, search, etc.)
  • Content types (text, video, images, data, PDFs, etc.)
  • Motion and Animation (patterns, speed, meaning
  • Communication (alert prioritization, confirmation/acknowledgement, empty states, help/feedback, onboarding, tooltips, progress indicators)
  • Data Visualizations
  • Vocabulary
  • Accessibility

What Are the Benefits

Good for your Brand

  • Recognizability – A DLS creates a unique personality for a product, differentiating it from the many digital products offered out there.

Good for the User

  • Increased Customer Satisfaction – Interacting with a consistent, easy flowing application, a user’s experience becomes pleasurable and enjoyable with an increased usability and ease of use.
  • Consistency – With a shared set of principles and rules it becomes much easier to create consistent user experiences across different platforms.

Good for your Business

  • Efficiency – Designers, developers and different teams reuse components, modifying & iterating quickly.
  • Cost –  Efficiency drives down costs, reduces redesigns and reprogramming
  • Scale – Increased efficiency and consistency lead a company to build faster suite of products.
  • Flexibility – Allows the DLS to evolve over time as you continue to learn more about users.
  • Innovation – Research insights identify new opportunities.
  • Culture – Creates unity as your team works together with a common internal vision and principles.

What a Business Needs To Succeed

  • Gain leadership support
  • Staff a dedicated design team
  • Integrate a UX process into product development
  • Give your team a voice
  • Plan for a DLS that is built to last
  • Assign a product owner
  • Create a UX culture and gain adoption
  • Define your UX toolset
  • Make the DLS accessible to everyone in the business
  • Establish Governance – define a team responsible for managing the evolution of the DLS
  • Continue to mature the DLS