Building design systems (and other thoughts)

Written by Verne on January 5th, 2011


Happy New Year! It’s been a while but I thought I’d stop in to wish you all a fantastic new year. If your 2010 was anything like mine, 2011 has a tough act to follow.

As a quick update, I spent most of 2010 heads-down and wired in with my family over at Jet Cooper (the new design shop I founded around the time I last posted here). Working as a freelancer is one thing, but building a real digital agency of 9 awesome people over a very short year and a half is a whole other ballgame. Oh, and we also won our first interactive award (our first award ever, for that matter). Hopefully that helps to excuse my absence here a little bit.

If 2010 was a year for me to work my ass off and build the team, processes and standards that would support all of our operations, then 2011 will be about reflecting, learning, sharing, innovating and all the other things that otherwise help strengthen the vision behind building a wickedgood design shop. A consequence of this is that I might be writing more frequently, now that it’s baked into our 2011 chartifesto (charter + manifesto).

But I’m not going to make any promises yet. I think you’ve all seen how that pans out (at least in context of me blogging).

I will say however that I’ve written my first post of 2011 over at the Jet Cooper blog on building design systems. Here’s an excerpt:

What begins to organically materialize during the design process is something that our team has started to more formally define as the design system. It’s nothing new, and as designers, we usually already do this informally – we pick typefaces, text colours, link colours, button styles and essentially make design decisions that create conventions for us to follow through the length of the project. However, without any formal definition or even recognition of the impact of the conventions we’re building, we tend to not assess the decisions we make as critically as we should. What we end up almost doing sometimes is hacking our own conventions midway through a project as we discover new contexts that our current conventions don’t accommodate. A little foresight at the start of the design process can help mitigate these situations.

I can’t tell you how regularly I’ll be doing this (there’s still quite a bit of heads-down work to be done right now), but I can tell you that there’s a justice league of really smart people that I work with that do post regularly on that blog. You might find particular interest in the product we’re building.

I have every intention of keeping this blog for sharing the ins and outs of running a design shop (the entrepreneurial side of things), but you might find that I’ll post more of the concrete design insights (which is inclusive of thoughts on UI, usability, interactions and user experience as a whole) over at the Jet Cooper blog. I hope to see some of you over there.

Lastly (and simply): thank you for the continued support. I know we didn’t talk much in 2010, but like close friends, sometimes you don’t need to exchange words to have an impact. Thank you equally to those who will be sticking around to see how things unfold and to those who will hit the Unsubscribe button in their feed readers. You’ve all made 2010 one of the best years I’ve ever had.

Happy 2011. :)викКартиниикониикониПравославни иконииконописikoniсвети георгиikoni

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