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A Design System for Christmas

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You know the feeling. As Christmas is approaching, the race of getting everything ready before the deadline of deadlines tends to intensify. Squeeze the last drops from the department budget and check all the right boxes to secure everyone’s bonus. These are certainly busy times.

So when your product owner comes to you (Psst! You’re the lead designer of this story) with this great idea for making one last project and finish off in style before the holidays, part of you so want to jump up and down with enthusiasm, get on board the project and make everybody happy before Santa arrives. Your gut reaction, however, is that it’s very late, you’re very tired, and 'is it really worth the effort'?

All junior designers do get enthusiastic. They’re not the ones that need to worry about the planning, and they actually see getting to stay up late as a bonus. But you’re not stonehearted. You eventually get inspired too. And when you come to think of it, there is actually a design system you can use to speed up this project. Maybe it’s doable after all?

Yay! Let’s build a gingerbread house!

The greatest thing about your design system is that you’re all set up on multiple levels. There are individual components to ensure flexibility and make room for creative freedom. But also guidelines and out-of-the-box layouts to support decision making and save time. With minimal direction from you (you’re still the lead designer here), the junior designers can swiftly get to work on their individual parts. Thanks to the meticulously color-themed system along with the guidelines on how to use and combine everything, the design is quickly coming to life as all the single pieces of the puzzle just magically fit together. It simply can’t go wrong!

Parts of a gingerbread house in the making, gluing the parts together with frosting and decorating it with candy.

The product owner circling around the design team is obviously absolutely thrilled! So little time has passed, and so much progress already. The junior designers also feel really empowered, confidently, and independently doing their jobs and getting nothing but cheerful praise from their leader. No edges misalign and no color combinations hurt the eye. No matter the mix everything is just coming together perfectly. It’s way before deadline (Phew! The junior designers won’t have to work overtime after all), and it’s looking fabulous.

Okay, I hear you. Those of you with a professional eye for aesthetics are not equally impressed. A custom design with a more artisanal touch, giving it a less standardized look and feel, would be more appealing to you for sure. But hey! First of all, you’re not the customer. Secondly, you’re still not the customer. And furthermore, it’s actually okay not making the fanciest and most original gingerbread house on the planet as long as your actual customers are delighted with the one you’re making. And since in this case, I’ve done my research well, I happen to know exactly what are their favorite flavors.

Happy holidays! And I hope you get what you want for Christmas too.