Have you been inspired by the book Atomic Design by Brad Frost? Whether you have read it or not, you will want to catch this episode to hear his advice on all things design systems! Read the article below for advice on starting a design system without a dedicated team or a lot of time and the difference between a product team and a formal design system team. Listen to even more advice from Brad in the full episode!
In episode 37 of The Product Design Podcast, Seth Coelen interviews Brad Frost, Creator of the Atomic Design Philosophy and Design Systems Guru. He runs his own consultancy where he helps people with design systems and assists companies by setting them up to design systems correctly.
Brad shares where the Atomic Design philosophy came from, what he did to spread this concept to others, and the power a design system can have for any organization. He also gives tips on how to set up a design system when you do not have a dedicated resource to do it for your company.
When Brad was in college, he was interested in music production and recording engineering, but after an unpaid internship, he realized that was not the right path for him. He changed his major to media arts and design, which led him to create a website for his band. Working on the website for his band helped him realize how much he enjoyed the process, and when he graduated in 2007, he got his start creating websites.
Brad soon moved to New York and started working at a small agency that worked on eCommerce websites until he moved to a more prominent agency where he began as a mobile web developer. He entered the industry on the cusp of significant change. Since this was before responsive design, he got to learn on the fly as he went into this brave new world of tech. As he dug into responsive designs and navigation, he started thinking about components and eventually blogging about all things design system-related. One blog post changed his life and led him to write the book Atomic Design.
Although Brad strongly believes in the importance of having a designated team or manager to lead and manage the design system, he realizes it is only sometimes feasible. If you can't get the green light to dedicate lots of time to creating a design system, here are some things you can do in your day-to-day to start building the framework.
“The whole purpose of a design system is to unlock the future of how your products are designed and built. If it's not doing that, it's a failure.”
As a component library becomes more established, it will become more successful if a design system team becomes responsible for it. It is critical that product teams have open communication with the design system team, and there must be space for open discussion on how to improve the design system and the products it empowers for both teams to succeed. Here are some things to consider when working with a design system team.
“In order to really make a design system successful, it has to serve the organization and the users that the organization is trying to reach.”
That was amazing!!! We were thrilled to have Brad Frost on the show to share the value of design systems and dive deep into what led him to write Atomic Design. Our team has learned so much from his book, and we learned even more during this chat! We are so thankful that he shared so much valuable information on the value of design systems.
Listen to the complete episode on The Product Design Podcast, which includes a deeper dive into Brad’s fascinating journey from music major to becoming the Author of Atomic Design and how Brad became established in our industry! Don't forget to follow Brad on Twitter and LinkedIn, and keep an eye out on his website for what he is up to!
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