Exploring The Anatomy of a Design System

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A design system can be a powerful asset that brings efficiency and consistency to digital interfaces while empowering organizations to creatively connect with their key audiences. It can also unite internal disciplines around shared goals. But “design system” is still a term that means different things to different people—even within the same organization. It’s hard to work toward a shared vision without a common understanding of what makes up a successful system.

The Anatomy of a Design System defines the layers and parts of effective systems to help design system creators and subscribers come together around a shared concept and vocabulary. Once you have the basics under your belt, you’ll have the tools you need to align your team and evolve your system successfully.

What’s The Anatomy?

UnConference: The Anatomy of a Design System

Sparkbox held a virtual learning event focused on The Anatomy of a Design System. Watch as Ben walks you through the Anatomy layers and parts, and Kasey joins in to provide real-life examples of how the Anatomy applies to popular design systems.

The Anatomy in Action

It’s very unusual for a design system to be created in its entirety as a single project. Rather, a system may begin with just a few people solving a small problem, or a roadmap that encompasses a phased approach over a year or more. But once you’re familiar with the Anatomy model, you’ll see how it can influence and inform decision-making over time.

Working with Design Systems

Many of our client engagements at Sparkbox include design system work, whether it’s short-term consulting and advice or a years-long collaboration. You may find it valuable to understand how the Anatomy plays a role in assessing and planning for design system growth.

Going Beyond The Anatomy

Creating a design system based on the common language from the anatomy is the start of building a larger systematic practice. Creating a subculture with your design system team and for those that utilize it is the next step to building a successful system.

Design System Tools

You’ve learned a lot about design systems so far. Ready to roll up your sleeves? We can help with that too.