The Power & Potential of Design Systems

Design systems create a shared visual language and increase efficiencies across design and engineering teams. They empower teams to focus more on opportunities and solutions.
Orgs with a comprehensive design system empower product squads to focus on solutions that are systematic vs reaction-based and strategy-driven vs. surface-driven.

A design system is the components, principles, templates, and best practices that guide an organization’s design decisions in crucial ways. Design systems create a shared visual language and increase efficiencies across design and engineering teams. They empower teams to focus more on opportunities and solutions.

In 2019, 68% of companies surveyed used design systems. On average companies with design systems saw a 50% reduction of design, development and testing needed in product cycle

Notable companies with renowned design systems

Tactically, design systems often start in a design platform like Figma, but are only truly successful when they bridge design and code.

Design System in Figma

Most organizations rely on a tool called Storybook to house the design system for their engineering teams.'s Vibe Design System in Storybook bridges design and code
Any software built by a large teams of people faces the same challenge… Over time different people will contribute new solutions and styles, causing experiences to diverge.

Building a Visual Language , Karri Saarinen, Principal Designer and creator of Airbnb Design System

A design system serves:

Internal Teams via:

  • Scalability
  • Maintainability
  • Productivity
  • Consistency
  • Code and design quality
  • Knowledge sharing

External Teams via:

  • Functionality
  • Usability
  • Delight

When a design system is successfully implemented, teams can spend more time on questions that matter for their customers.

  1. How useful a feature is (Usability)
  2. If the users can do what they need to do (Functionality)
  3. How enjoyable it is to use a feature (Desirability)

Investing in user experience and usability during a project’s concept phase, can reduce product development cycles by 33 to 50 percent.

Studies have shown strong, consistent user experience can improve customer retention by up to 400 percent, while reducing churn.

How to scale a design system

A design system considers how decisions and patterns scale within the context of an entire product family. Consider every element in its next larger context  – a component within a page within a user flow, within a product module, within a  suite of products, within a customer workflow.

Atomic design is the most common philosophy for structuring a design system. Within atomic design, elements build upon one another in the following order.

  1. Atoms
  2. Molecules
  3. Organisms
  4. Templates
  5. Pages


Atoms are the basic building blocks of matter. Applied to product interfaces, atoms are anything broken down to its smallest possible part while still maintaining function.

Atoms include elements like Buttons, Checkboxes, Toggles, Tags, Tooltips, and Progress Bars


Molecules are groups of atoms bonded together. As a rule of thumb they are relatively simple combinations of atoms built for reuse like cards, breadcrumbs, list items, and table cells.

A card is an example of a Molecule. Within the card are atoms likes tags, images, and typography.


Organisms are groups of molecules joined together to form a relatively complex, distinct section of an interface. Organisms can consist of similar and/or different molecule types. Examples: modals, toggle sections, page headers, drawers, tables.

Modals, Tables, Drawers, and Page Headings are examples of Organisms within Atomic Design.


Templates consist of groups of organisms stitched together to form pages. It’s here we see the design coming together and layout in action.


Pages are specific instances of templates. Here, placeholder content is replaced with real data to give an accurate depiction of what a user will ultimately see.

Design Systems Go Through Various Stages of Maturity

The Value of a Design System Over Time

Design Systems require significant investment upfront. However if you intend to expand your product and scale significantly over time, you will see guaranteed results. The cost and maintenance of your engineering efforts will plateau overtime. Nearly all leading companies now rely on design systems to run efficient product team, increase speed to release, and stay ahead of the competitors.

You should see results!

Design Systems should give you results. When implemented well, product teams should see efficiencies increased, changes to code minimized, and improved speed to market.

Reach out to our team if you're interested in partnering to build or maintain a design system. We build custom design systems from 0-1, scale existing designs systems, and introduce design tokenization to support various color themes across your product. Have questions? We're also happy to offer a free initial consultation.

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to your team

We are committed to immersing ourselves in your business to understand your most pressing goals. We take systematic approach to ensure our solutions add real value to your customer and organization's success