From Page-Based Design to Component Design

The Shift in Digital Customer Experience

Designing digital customer experiences involves putting together both the actual content and the design components into an interactive and appealing result. But how do these fundamental building blocks of design and content come together?

After interviewing dozens of UX and content professionals, and being involved, first-hand, in more than a hundred enterprise customer experience initiatives, it’s clear that there’s not one methodology in play. 
Rather there are many bespoke approaches. It’s like cooking. Everyone needs to eat food. Yet the process of assembling and preparing ingredients into meals is as varied as the number of chefs and kitchens.

The answer is headless and composable delivery. With this approach, content and design come together as assemblies all powered by component-based design. 

Design systems have been widely adopted to componentize presentation elements across multiple designers and interfaces. The content, however, needs to be modular and reusable as well.

Let's take a look at the Design Systems (adopted design standards), the design tools, and a method of integrating content into prototyping workflows. Bringing these pieces together leads to faster and more consistent designs, yes– but importantly improves the customer experience as the customer journey no longer needs to be created in silos and continually compromised as pieces collide.

Managing Complexity with a Design System

Content designers often face the challenge of managing design complexity while ensuring consistency and usability across all aspects of their designs. Implementing a Design System into their workflow is an effective solution to this challenge. A design system is a complete set of standards designed to manage design at scale using reusable components and patterns. 

When implemented well, design systems can provide many benefits to a design team, including replicating designs quickly and at scale by utilizing pre-made UI components and elements. Design systems alleviate the strain on design resources to focus on larger, more complex problems, such as information prioritization, workflow optimization, and journey management. They create a unified language within and between cross-functional teams. Moreover, they also create visual consistency across products, channels, and potentially siloed departments, unifying disjointed experiences and making them visually cohesive. 

Overall, a Design System serves as a single source of truth for anything related to product design, helping teams build better products and maintain consistency in user experience throughout the development process.

10 Top Design Systems Used by Content Designers

Examples of such design systems include:
  • IBM Carbon Design System: Open source design system for digital experiences. The system consists of working code, design tools and resources, and human interface guidelines.
  • Microsoft Fluent Design System: Open-source, cross-platform design system that gives designers and developers frameworks to create engaging product experiences.
  • Uber Brand: A design system that provides a set of guidelines, principles, and components for building consistent and recognizable brand experiences across all touchpoints, including digital and physical spaces.
  • Polaris: The design system for the Shopify admin. Consists of a shared language that guides how to build high-quality merchant experiences.
  • Atlassian Design System: Design system that provides a set of guidelines to create engaging end-to-end user experiences. This includes guidance on iconography, typography, layout, and structure.
  • Spectrum: Spectrum provides components and tools to help product teams work more efficiently, and to make Adobe’s applications more cohesive.
  • Lightning Design System: Design system by SalesForce that lets you focus on the big picture to deliver the best possible user experience.
  • Patternfly: Open source design system built to drive consistency and unify teams.
  • Seeds: A design system to quickly get started with Sprout Social component library to build expressive, consistent UI.
  • Evergreen: Evergreen is a React UI Framework for building ambitious products on the web brought by Segment.

Each of these systems provides an array of components, guides, and principles which are tailored to the specific requirements of individual businesses or brands. By implementing these detailed and highly effective design systems, organizations can ensure their users receive a consistent and enjoyable experience across all products or services.

The Role of Design System Tools in Improving Design Efficiency and Collaboration

Design System Tools are software applications that help designers create and manage design elements in a consistent manner across projects and platforms. These tools typically provide a centralized platform where designers can create and store reusable components, design patterns, and style guides. Design system tools can also aid in collaboration between team members by allowing them to work on design projects together and providing a single source of truth for all design-related resources

These tools provide an effective method for ensuring consistency in user experience, design standards, and development processes. Whether it's for creating wireframes, visual designs, or prototypes, design system tools streamline the design process and make it easier for designers to create high-quality products that meet user needs.

Top Design System Tools to Improve Design Consistency

There is an array of design system tools on the market, ready to help you create a unified digital experience:
  • ZeroHeight: Create a single source of truth for all aspects of your design system, bringing together the tools your teams already use.
  • UXPin: Design at scale with dynamic and reusable design systems. Share it easily with your team and ensure consistency across the whole company.
  • Knapsack: Flexible design system platform to unite design, engineering, and product teams by working together in one collaborative workspace.
  • InVision: InVision Freehand integrates with Figma, so users can do all of their design work in Figma but collaborate cross-functionally within Freehand.
  • Anima: Anima’s CLI syncs code updates to Figma in real-time—with zero manual maintenance—so Figma components are always 1:1 with production.
  • Frontify: Integrate Frontify with Figma for design, communication, productivity, and marketing – keeping all teams aligned and on brand.

Integrating Tools within the Figma Design Space: The Power of Plugins

Figma is known for its vast array of plugins that allow designers to extend the functionality of the platform and integrate with other design tools. The power of these plugins is that they enable designers to streamline their workflow and improve their efficiency by automating certain tasks or adding new capabilities to the platform.

For example, plugins like Unsplash provide designers with access to a wide range of stock images and icons that can be easily integrated into their designs. This saves designers time and effort in sourcing and importing these assets manually. Similarly, plugins like Stark and Color Contrast Analyzer help designers ensure that their designs meet accessibility standards by automatically checking for color contrast and other accessibility issues.

Plugins like Design System Organizer allow designers to create and manage their own design systems within Figma. This means that designers can create a library of reusable components, typography styles, and color palettes that can be used across different projects and shared with their team members.

Bringing Composable Content to Composable Design

Just as Design Systems set the standards for design, a Core Content Model sets the standards for content. But what tools can we use to bring reusable, composable content into the modular customer experiences we design? Noticing a gap in the space, our Innovation Labs has developed and released a Figma Plugin, RealContent. This allows designers to pull content directly from their organizations headless CMS. This saves teams immense amounts of time by having the content automatically populate within designs and allows for faster and more accurate reviews.

By decoupling the customer experience from an monolithic, inflexible page based creation, teams are creating more personalized, compasable experiences. Both content and design elements can more easily be reused and more easily be updated.
Overall, the power of Figma's plugins lies in their ability to enhance the design process and improve collaboration between team members. By integrating different design system tools directly into the Figma workspace, designers can save time, reduce errors, and create more consistent and high-quality designs.

Ensuring Visual Consistency Across Platforms with Figma's Component Content Design

The shift from page-based design to component design is crucial in staying relevant and competitive in the marketplace. Design systems are key to achieving consistency, scalability and reusability across different teams, products, and platforms. And design system tools help teams manage and create components, design patterns, and style guides while enabling efficient collaboration among team members.

As the industry continues to evolve, the next step is to integrate these technologies and improve our workflows. Figma is enabling this and allowing teams to easily share and reuse components, increasing efficiency and productivity. This integration also allows for Figma's collaboration features to improve workflow by facilitating real-time team collaboration and ensuring that the design system remains up-to-date, reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies and improving the user experience.