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Collaborating in a Design System: 5 Tips for Designers and Developers
19 August 2022     993

Collaborating in a Design System: 5 Tips for Designers and Developers

Design systems are very important to your business. This way you can achieve consistent branding across all digital assets and products. These systems bridge the gap between the creative expertise of the design team and the more technical knowledge of developers, ensuring that every project is delivered with high quality.

Design systems bridge the gap between the creative expertise of designers and the technical knowledge of developers.

But the design system cannot achieve this on its own. A high level of collaboration and communication between teams is still required to support the functionality of the design system. Without it, brand consistency will be compromised and projects will be delayed.

How is collaboration achieved in a design system? What can the team do to ensure accurate and effective communication?


1. Unite designers and developers with a common terminology

The roles of a designer and a developer are very different. Although both roles work toward the same goal, they achieve that goal in different ways. Designers envision the form the project will take, while developers use their technical knowledge and skill to realize the vision.

It is easy if there is a complete understanding of what needs to be achieved at each stage. For example, if a designer has a very simple brief that results in a design with only a few different elements, developers will be able to render it without too much effort. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. More complex design projects require closer analysis and understanding.

What is needed is a common terminology used by both designers and developers during the project: a common language understood by both groups of professionals.


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2. Organizational management of files

Cloud storage features make this easy to achieve. With cloud storage of tokens and assets, any team, anywhere in the world, can find the files they need. Of course, it still depends on one factor: a standardized file naming and storage system used by all teams and all team members.


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3. Collaboration on design token management

The common terminology discussed above is great for discussing collaborative projects and unifying the designer and developer roles with a common language. But it must go further. It should be incorporated into the design system itself.

This is achieved through the systematic use of design tokens. When the design team makes a decision about the layout or structure of the project, they can store it in the system as a design token. A token is a specific file that informs the development and final rendering of a project. Developers should be able to access this token and see how the renderer should be used.

Designers can use existing tokens that are already stored in the system, or they can create new tokens that are specific to that particular project.


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4. Maintain collaboration with real-time support tools

What we have discussed so far is considered cooperation, but it is only an elementary form of cooperation. In todays design and development environment, teams must work together effectively, not just complete one task and hand it off to the next team, but work side-by-side and with full communication.

For groups to work as a team, they need effective means of communication. Secure video collaboration and messaging tools.


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Its time for a conceptual change when it comes to design and development. Designers and developers are not entirely separate entities, operating with their own scripts and best practices. They are two sides of the same coin, serving the same goals and objectives. With the right approach to collaboration and communication, supported by a highly effective design system, this union is easy to achieve.

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