Check out a free preview of the full Mastering the Design Process course:
The "Design Systems Q&A" Lesson is part of the full, Mastering the Design Process course featured in this preview video. Here's what you'd learn in this lesson:

Paul answers student questions regarding what scale to begin thinking about a design system and how to handle finding a mistake after the presentation.

Get Unlimited Access Now

Transcript from the "Design Systems Q&A" Lesson

>> So I hear that we've got a couple of questions in, which is good. What we got?
>> At what scale do you think about a design system and when it begins to matter? How many designers before the effort put in begins to pay off?
>> I can only talk from my own personal experience.

[00:00:24] But I think a design system is always worth having. I don't think you need multiple designers to get value out of the design system. I think what you need is a design that you are going to be returning to multiple times. So which, in my opinion, should be almost all designs, right, especially what we're about to move on to, post-launch optimization of a website.

[00:00:58] And so if you are going to be evolving and improving your website over time, it really is helpful to have a design system, because you can assemble new pages, new approaches very, very quickly and easily. So no, it's not about having multiple designers so much, as I think it is about having a design that you're gonna be returning to regularly.

[00:01:23] And that could be any size site, it doesn't need to be a massive multinational, a small e-commerce site may well justify it. In fact, it's very rare for me to work on a site that wouldn't benefit from a design system, and not all of my projects are big, by any means.

[00:01:42] Sorry, yes, hopefully that answers the question. Is there another one?
>> What do you do when you realize you've made a mistake after the presentation which could lead to major problems down the road? How would you address those mistakes?
>> I guess it depends on the type of mistake.

[00:02:06] I have been forced in the past to do project resets, it's like the new killer option if all else fails. And basically I say, I will sit down with a client and say, look, this isn't working. Something's gone wrong. The relationship's gone wrong, the design direction is gone wrong.

[00:02:28] Let's circle back and instead of just trying to patch what we've got, let's take a step back and reproach it. So that's a kinda new killer option to it. I don't like doing that, partly because you lose a lot of money from doing that, and also, I don't like admitting defeat, I think.

[00:02:49] But with other scenarios like that where you feel like you've made a mistake, often honesty is the best policy. And a willingness on your part to recognize you've made a mistake, even if that mistake is in how you've handled and interacted with the client. So to give you give you a real example that happened to me, I beat myself up for ages over this.

[00:03:22] So that happened quite recently where I was getting really frustrated working with one particular client, because they were saying all the right things, they wanted to do all the right things. Yet every time I suggested any kind of change to the way that their website currently worked or the challenges that we're facing, there was always a reason why they couldn't do it.

[00:03:46] They knew it was a form, there was a form on their website that wasn't performing. They knew it wasn't performing. They knew it was a bad user experience. They knew it had to be fixed, but every time I mentioned any change to that form, there was a reason why they couldn't do it.

[00:04:01] And in one meeting, I just lost my cool. And I didn't scream or shout or anything melodramatic like that. But I did start to express my frustration that we're going around in circles and not getting anywhere here. And I came away from that going, I've blown that relationship, right?

[00:04:20] And so I just dropped the guy an email and said, that was totally unprofessional, I completely screwed it up, I am really sorry. I just wanna see this succeed, but the way I talked, my attitude over it sucked. And of course, most people are really gracious. And he turned around and said, [LAUGH] he said, I appreciate your passion, which I think was a passive aggressive way of saying, tone it down.

[00:04:49] But anyway, he was lovely about it. And you can't ask for more than that. So yeah, I think a lot of the times, it is just acknowledging your mistakes. It's in talking about it with the client and going from there. I mean, they might have something specific in mind, in which case I'm quite happy to answer that.

[00:05:05] But as a general rule of thumb, that's kind of my thinking.