Designing an Implementation Support Framework for Design Systems

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Davidsson, Elin
Hennings, Theodor
In this study, constructive design research has been used to investigate the implementation of design systems in organizations. Constructive design research is a research approach which employs the design process to gather insights and knowledge in a particular area. A study has been conducted at the web-development company Universal Avenue. The aim was to identify the need of the designers and developers to suggest a design system concept. The aim was also to suggest a generalized framework for how to implement design systems in other organizations to meet the needs of designers and developers. A design system can be defined as a collection of elements that will support the designers and developers in the development process. A design system is an open system which will need control mechanisms to stay relevant and up to date. The theory defines the content of a design system in more detail, as well as declaring how design systems could be designed and when it should be introduced in an organization. Literature about lean management in relation to design systems was included to support the construction of the design system framework. The methods used in this study were benchmarking, observations, interviews, card sorting, co-creation workshops, and KJ analysis. These methods generated insights about design systems used in other organizations, as well as insights regarding the needs of designers and developers at Universal Avenue. The field study resulted in an exposition of the current working process and design system at Universal Avenue. It also resulted in the creation of user profiles of the primary users of the design system. Based on the user’s needs, guidelines for the creation of a design system were listed. The insights from the field study served as foundation for the concept creation of Universal Avenue’s new design system, regarding what it should contain and how it should be implemented. The concept created for Universal Avenue, together with insights from the literature and the benchmarking resulted in a generalized implementation support framework for how to implement design systems in other organizations. It has been concluded that the most prominent needs of designers and developers regarding the design system could be linked to the collaboration within and across team boundaries, as well as to the structure of the code. As a second result of this study, the main building blocks of a design system could be defined as design elements, guidelines, and component libraries. Finally, design systems should be implemented as an iterative process which supports the constant improvement and maintenance of the design system.
Design Systems, Constructive Design Research, Lean Management, Process Design
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