Building Scalable, Future-Proofed Experiences Through Leading Design Systems


For the uninitiated, a design system comprises a set of reusable components, guidelines, and assets crafted to maintain consistency and streamline the design and development workflow. It acts as the cornerstone for crafting visually engaging and intuitive interfaces across diverse digital platforms. These tools act as the backbone of consistent user experiences across various touchpoints – from websites to mobile apps and beyond.  

The evolution of design systems 

Design systems have their roots in early graphic design and print media, where consistency in visual styles and typography was crucial. They gained new relevance with the rise of corporate branding, as companies sought to maintain consistent brand identities across various touchpoints through brand guidelines.  

As digital technologies advanced, design systems became essential for creating cohesive experiences across different devices and platforms, further facilitated by the emergence of web development frameworks like Bootstrap and Material Design. And once a greater emphasis on user experience (UX) evolved, design systems began incorporating usability and accessibility principles.  

Today, design systems have transformed into comprehensive repositories encompassing not just visual styles but also guidelines for motion design, micro-interactions, and more, serving as essential tools for efficient collaboration and maintaining consistency across projects. 

But what does the future look like for design systems? How will they continue to shape the way brands interact with their audiences?  

Let’s dive into the insights gathered from our recent ‘Fast Currents: Design Systems’ webinar, hosted by dentsu experts Barry Fiske (Chief Experience Officer US), Laura Skaggs (Associate Creative Director), Dave Calleja (Head of Design Systems) and Sean Farrington (VP Front End Development).  

The core tenets: Consistency, evolution, and foundational principles  

Consistency is king when it comes to design systems. From UX patterns to code implementation, maintaining a cohesive and unified experience is crucial. Yet, it’s not about static consistency; design systems must be flexible in their approach and be able to evolve over time without unravelling. This requires a solid technical foundation that is malleable to changing needs and innovations.  

At the heart of every design system lies a set of experience principles. These become the guiding light that shapes everything from design to technology to copy. Serving as a North Star, having solidified principles will be what allows a brand to set a clear direction for their system’s development – ensuring alignment with the brand’s goals and values.  

The value proposition: differentiation, efficiency, and brand expression  

The benefits of a modern design system extend far beyond mere aesthetics. Delivering consistent experiences that align with brand promises will allow companies to differentiate themselves from competitors in a crowded marketplace. Serving as the language of the brand, design systems are a way to express identity and values across various digital platforms.  

Moreover, design systems offer massive efficiencies for both businesses and consumers. Streamlining the design and development process will allow brands to reduce time-to-market and will empower their creative teams to focus more on delivering engaging experiences.  

Beyond style guides: The evolution of design systems  

Whilst traditional style guides focused on conceptual design, design systems are the architecture of implementation. They provide the frameworks and technologies needed to bring a brand’s vision to life in the digital realm. Unlike static style guides, modern design systems embrace change and innovation. They are meant to evolve, but investing time upfront to solidify your brand’s design principles and to set out tasks and goals for your design system will be fundamental. Design systems are not designed to be a prison, restricting creativity – they are the foundation for businesses to create more ways to deliver on a seamless customer experience. 

It’s crucial to get the foundations of your design system right so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you design for different brands or different media.  

The future of design systems: personalisation, AI, and multimodality  

Looking ahead, the future of design systems will take personalisation, AI integration and multimodality into account.  

Personalisation will becoming increasingly important as brands seek to tailor experiences to individual users’ needs and experiences. AI-powered tools will play a pivotal role, helping to automate mundane tasks and allowing teams to focus more on strategic initiatives.  

Design systems will transcend their previous role as ‘website creation tools’ and evolve into fully-fledged business assets. They will help to drive efficiencies across various areas of an organisation, empowering teams to deliver consistent and adaptive experiences across various technologies.  

The key will be for design systems to be mature and heavily documented, so that AI models can be trained to assist in future creation, evolution, and testing. Increased documentation and training materials in relation to design systems will help to democratise access, by allowing anyone in a business to use their own design system – whether they work in marketing, design, or technology.  

A bright and dynamic road ahead 

In conclusion, the future of design systems is both bright and dynamic. Embracing consistency, adaptability and inclusivity will allow brands to differentiate themselves within the digital landscape and deliver more impactful experiences to their audiences. As AI and personalisation tactics evolve, design systems will play an ever-increasing role in shaping the future of digital interactions.  

If you’d like to discuss the topics raised in this blog further, please do get in touch.