Value of a Design System: The Impact of Design and Usability on Complex Systems

Kevin Richardson, Ph.D Principle User Experience and updated by George Abraham, Senior Product Owner and UX Principal

Value of a design system illustration.

Good software design is a research-based, iterative process that discovers and defines requirements. It helps clarify what users need to accomplish, in addition to what they want. It enables early consensus, modifications and user testing. It is fast. It is inexpensive. It is usable and intuitive, beautiful and inspiring.

This is not, however, how most software is created today.

Instead, here is what occurs more often: at the beginning of a new software project, a list of new features, functional updates and component wish lists are collected from key stakeholders and representative users. This list is then handed to a talented development team who do their absolute best to coordinate the requirements and create a unified system that will make sense to users. But this ultimately leads to inferior software. Why? Because developers are not usability analysts or designers and they are being asked to do the jobs of both.

This whitepaper will look at a more successful software design approach — one where rapid prototyping and user testing early on produces consensus before the development work or coding begins. This iterative process minimizes development risk and ensures a final app that more closely aligns with the needs and desires of targeted users.

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