There are a lot of misconceptions floating on the internet about design systems. A ton of articles and hours of YouTube videos are out there that explain what it is. But even after going through all that, chances are that you still might only have a vague idea of what a design system truly is? What is a design system? Can I make one for my brand? How is a design system different from a UI kit? If these are the questions that keep you up at night, this article should hopefully clear your doubts.
When you’re a brand that receives a lot of attention, it is important that your brand has a unique and consistent look and feel about it. This should hold true for everything related to your brand, including its website, newsletters, pamphlets, apps, landing pages, and so much more. A design system helps achieve this. A design system also enhances the workflow of designers and developers and helps them create a consistent user experience for everyone. Let us dive deeper into this topic now.
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What is a design system?
Let’s imagine groups of reusable UI components that can be used together for different kinds of applications. These components need to obey certain guidelines and follow certain standards. This entire package of reusable components and the guidelines that need to be followed can be collectively called a design system.
A design system is a combination of UI style guides, branding, the tone of the brand, and a lot more. It is responsible for the user experience of your website and everything else that needs to be viewed and used by someone. It helps you maintain consistency in user experience and as I mentioned above, it helps speed up the development process.
So, a design system includes UI component libraries, reusable UI elements, brand guidelines, detailed documentation, and more. It is not just a collection of UI components. In simple terms, it is a guide on designing a project. It has concrete rules you must follow.
A design system is a bunch of independent parts that work together and are all related to each other.
How is a design system different from a UI kit?
A UI kit mostly comes only with UI components that you can piece together to design something. This includes stuff like different kinds of buttons, fonts, icons, and more. Design systems have so much more than that. It includes tools for design and development like guidelines and documentation. Design systems also include more complicated and abstract elements like brand values, mindset, purpose, and brand objectives.
A UI kit is just one of the deliverables of a design system.
Why do we need design systems?
Design systems are more integrated into a team’s workflow. Its fundamental purpose is to facilitate the work of a team.
The fundamental purpose of a Design System is to facilitate the work of the teams. So the first question we need to ask ourselves is not “What should I put inside my Design System?” but “Who is going to use it and how?”. It is important to align teams around a set of goals. Doing this will help you build a vision that has everybody onboard and working at the same momentum.
What is included in a design system?
Nowadays, design systems consist mostly consist of 3 main elements:
Style guides – fonts, colors, brand guidelines, etc.
Component libraries – UI elements like forms, buttons, etc.
Pattern library – UI patterns and code snippets.
Benefits of a design system
Are there any benefits of using a design system?
A design system can help save a lot of time. It helps align teams around a clear set of shared goals and helps streamline tasks. A design system improves the workflow for designers who code and engineers who build UI.
There is consistency in design code and branding. The former helps save time and makes modifications easier. The latter helps improve user experience.
Having a good design system improves the overall UX of your brand. This improves overall satisfaction for your customers/visitors. And more importantly, a good design will always be on top of web design trends.
How do I make a design system?
After reading everything about design systems, it may appear that making one would be a LOT of work. However, this does not have to be true. But more on that later. Here is a step by step guide that will help you with your own design system:
1) Design principles
This is the foundation of your design system. Your design principles will guide you as you create anything new, be it products, web pages, features, anything really. Your design principles should reflect your brand’s point of view. You should define your design principles.
2) Visual language
This includes stuff like the colors you use, typography, buttons, sizing, padding and spacing rules, everything that falls under visual language. Having a UI kit or a design system template really helps speed up this process. Keep reading to check out our comprehensive list of some great templates.
We mentioned that the design system also involves the tone of your brand. Your brand might have a unique tone that can be best highlighted with the writing style you use. We can take Tesla as an example here:
Tesla does not use the word “luxury” to describe themselves. They consider themselves as a “premium, performance brand” and keep their messages short, concise, and to the point. Tesla knows that their customers are intelligent and busy people.
4) Cheat Sheet
Create a cheat sheet to define best practices for everything that your team does, including design and development. This helps speed up teamwork and helps new team members to get on board ASAP.
Having detailed documentation for each component in your design system is important. This ensures that your components are used correctly and modified only in the ways they are allowed. This is a very important step you might need to spend a lot of time on it.
If you’re looking to create a design system of your own, having a UI kit as a starting point can really help.
It makes the whole process a lot faster and easier. A lot of websites offer free UI kits that you can use as a starting point to create your own design system. Some even offer design system templates that can be modified to suit your needs.
There are also various prototyping tools that can help you give a solid representation of how a design is supposed to behave and feel. It is a must-have tool if you’re a UI/UX designer. Prototypes are used to communicate how all the elements of a design are supposed to function together.
Now if you’re looking for UI kits, we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best UI kits and design system templates available in 2021. Let’s begin!
The best Design Systems and UI Kits in 2021
Unplug UI kit is the perfect template to start this list with. It serves as the perfect starting point when working on different projects. It comes with stunning and well-designed Login, Register, Contact, Blog, and About Pages. The UI Kit is incredibly simple and easy to use and helps designers to unleash their creativity and talent. It has over 25+ types of components, 12 different types of pages and so much more. Check it out using the buttons below.
Miri UI is a Bootstrap 4 UI kit designed to get the job done. This UI kit features an attractive clean design that is sure to make your web apps amazing. It also features essential Bootstrap components carefully designed so you can build web pages really easily. Miri UI features 11 well-designed sample pages, tons of reusable components, detailed documentation, and a lot more. Combined with our superb customer support, this is a must-get template!
MDB Bootstrap 5 UI Kit
This is an impressive UI kit from MDBootstrap that offers a huge collection of components. It is built on top of the latest Bootstrap 5 with plain JS, but it also works with jQuery. The template also comes with 700+ UI components. The installation is super simple and will only take you around 1 minute to set it up. It comes with an MIT license. This template is absolutelyly free for personal and commercial use.
Argon Design System
Start your development with a Premium Argon Design System for Bootstrap 4. It combines colors that are easy on the eye, spacious cards, beautiful typography, and graphics. Argon Design System PRO is built with over 1100 individual elements, 43 sections, and 17 example pages giving you the freedom of choosing and combining. Argon comes with prebuilt examples making the development process seamless. Every element has multiple states for colors, styles, hover, focus, that you can easily access and use.
Impact Design System PRO
Kick-start your development with this awesome design system that’s designed for your online business showcase. Impact Design System comes as a complete solution, with both front pages and dashboard pages included. Impact Design System Pro features a huge number of components built to fit together and look amazing. If you are a brand new business looking to create your online presence or if you just want to let people know who you are and what you do, this might be the answer for you.
BS4Start – Bootstrap 4 UI / Starter Kit
BS4Start is a responsive Bootstrap 4 UI Kit built for everyone who wants to create web-apps or websites on the Bootstrap framework. You don’t have to be a web developer to use this UI kit. BS4Start helps you to create your next Bootstrap project much faster than before. BS4Start comes with a simple and elegant design with a focus on content and readability. This template was built using SASS for faster customizations.
King UI – Bootstrap UI & Components Kit by KingStudio
King UI was created by designers for designers. It features over 350+ UI Elements, Sections, and Components, all coded in HTML5, CSS3 with SASS and based on the latest Bootstrap version. This UI kit will help you save a ton of development time! Check it out using the links below.
Kraft bootstrap 4 web Ui kit template by CodedThemes
Kraft is a modern yet powerful web UI kit built using the Bootstrap 4 framework. It features over 150 unique and amazing designed user interface blocks grouped, named, and layered into 15+ categories. This UI kit is very easy to customize and modify as per your branding requirements.
So there you have it. By now you must have a pretty good idea of what a design system is. Stay tuned for more informative blog posts. Write to us at email@example.com if you’ve got any questions, suggestions, or anything else! Oh and, if you’re looking for a Bootstrap admin template, do check us out!