What’s a Design System?
A design system is a set of standards to manage design at scale by reducing redundancy. They also create a shared language and visual consistency across different pages and channels. At Trailhead Technology Partners, we’ve curated a central design system that serves as a comprehensive tool. This tool helps us more efficiently guide our clients to a better result (and thus less expensive).
By the end of each project with Trailhead, you will walk away with a comprehensive and fully customized design system.
How Can a Design System Elevate Business?
With a design system, design and development work are created and replicated quickly and at scale. At Trailhead, we’ve noticed that having a design system opens up more opportunities for us to focus on the larger, more complex problems you want to address with software.
As a project progresses, the design system creates a unified language among cross-functional teams. This greatly reduces design and development costs over time.
How Does a Design System Work?
Trailhead invested many hours researching industry best practices and the latest design technology and then applied that research to creating a customizable design system we can use for our clients.
A variable is something that can vary in value, and often referred to as a primitive. Trailhead uses Figma to create a foundation of variables defining color and number primitives that are applied to all kinds of design properties and prototypes.
A token is a variable that references another variable. Trailhead has also created a book of tokens that are used in every project, which allows us to efficiently customize the design system for every client.
So every project uses that blue?
No, we change the variables (primitives) for each project to correspond with our client’s brand.
Where do the primitive values come from?
Color: We use an algorithm to generate colors based on your brand’s color. The colors are thus guaranteed to not only be aesthetically pleasing but also WCAG contrast compliant.
Numbers: Trailhead defines all of their number variables on multiples of 4, which is an industry-wide best practice.
A style stores a set of values. The primary application is text. Trailhead developed a standard set of styles to use in every project. This not only guarantees the text will look good but also be readable.
So every project uses the same text styles?
No, we can change the typeface to correspond with our client’s brand. We generally keep sizes the same, unless the design calls for something different.
Trailhead combined their various tokens and styles to create 280 fully customizable components that follow best practices in modern interface usability and aesthetics.
So every project uses the same components?
Yes and no. Most projects primarily use these common components from our library, with only a few custom components, if any. However, because all of the variables, tokens, and styles are customizable, a component can look very different from project to project.
Because the components all reference a token and a style, they can easily be customized to fit your brand. We simply update the variables that are referenced by the tokens, the properties referenced by the styles, or both. Now, every time a component references a token or a style, it will be updated across your project’s design system.
So these are the only components Trailhead can use on my project?
No. These are standard components used in 99% of software. Trailhead invested in this design system in order to leave more time for us to design and implement the unpredictable niche products and components our clients ask us to build.
Trailhead uses components as building blocks for larger patterns like navigation bars or whole-page patterns like lists. These more complex components, or patterns, are given their own tokens and styles from our standards. The components that make up the patterns retain their individual properties.
Ready to Elevate your Business with Trailhead’s Design System?
Design systems elevate business. Having said that, a design system is as much about the repository as it is about the people who manage it for you.
As a Trailhead client, you gain seasoned experts to not only generate and manage your design system but also implement it in an efficient yet creative way. A Trailhead design system can educate new team members, streamline work, and enable everyone to tackle more complex UX problems while saving you time and money on your next project.