Building Design Systems for Scaling Companies – SF Talk Night Recap

Nancy Samahito ·

How can scaling companies maintain design consistency and quality as internal and engineering teams exponentially grow?

Last week, Carbon Five San Francisco hosted Talk Night to answer this question and to discuss the secret benefits of building design systems for growing companies. Our guest speakers included:

Carbon Five Talk Night Speakers - Sean Durham, Erin LaPorte, Andy Tran
Carbon Five Talk Night Speakers – Sean Durham, Erin LaPorte, Andy Tran

Kicking off the night, Sean took stage to discuss his experience building and deploying a new design system at Autodesk. During the second half of the evening, Erin and Andy shared how Mixmax built and used a design system to maintain UI as their company began to scale.

A full house at Carbon Five San Francisco for Talk Night March 2019

A few key takeaways the speakers shared with the audience:

1. Implementing a design system within a growing company has several benefits. Design systems can:

  • Keep product and brand consistent within the organization
  • Help save time and effort put in by developers and engineering teams
  • Help save time and effort put in by designers and design teams
  • Eliminate unnecessary feedback loops between all stakeholders

2. Creating a design system and gaining adoption of a design system require two separate, but equally important strategies.

Sean shared that getting a design system adopted in a large, established company takes as much strategy and politics as it does design and development chops. This is why it is important to plan communications regarding rollout ahead of time. Planning ahead will help get key players on board to become internal influencers and champions of the system you create. Most importantly, always be willing to adapt your strategy as needed when introducing a design system to new users.

3. The tools to build a design system are abundant and readily available. It is essential to find the right ones that fit the strategic needs of your organization.

As Erin and Andy shared steps of scoping, deploying and growing a design system from scratch, they recommended trying tools like Storybook, Chromatic, Sketch Anima and DSM.

Talk Night Speakers – Andy Tran (Mixmax), Sean Durham (Autodesk), Erin LaPorte (Mixmax)

For more information, check out #C5DesignTalk for live tweets from the event. Also, if you’re in the NYC area, be sure to stop by Carbon Five New York on March 28th for the next Talk Night on Growth Design.

Interested in attending the next Carbon Five Talk Night? Join the Carbon Five Meetup group to receive alerts on all upcoming Talk Nights and events hosted in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chattanooga, New York, and Seattle.