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Drew has spent the better part of the last two years leading the charge on launching and managing the global design system at AIG. Learn some of the battle-tested tips, tricks, and methods gained during the process including how to:
- Manage contribution and intake
- Manage “snowflake” vs system components
- Support multiple brands with a single system
- Track and measure the ROI of your system
- Perpetuate buy-in
Drew Burdick is a multi-faceted design leader with over a decade of experience. He founded and led a creative agency, led top accounts at Red Ventures, and most recently helped to transform product design at AIG by leading a team to establish their global design system. He is now a leader with the Experience Design practice at Slalom, helping to drive client engagements in the Charlotte market.
B U I L D I N G A M A T U R E
D E S I G N S Y S T E M
@ D R E W H B U R D I C K🛠
2. Laying the foundation
3. Cultivating buy-in
5. Handling brands
6. Measuring impact
LET’S DO SOME QUICK CONTEXT SETTING
BEFORE WE GET STARTED
“…An adaptable system of guidelines, components, and tools
that support the best practices of user interface design. [It]
streamlines collaboration between designers and developers,
and helps teams quickly build beautiful products.”
I TALKED WITH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE
TO UNDERSTAND THE CURRENT STATE
• 2000+ digital products with decades of tech debt
• Siloed teams & IT “fiefdoms”
• Brand guidelines with limited digital coverage
• Numerous tools, tech stacks, pattern libraries,
style guides, etc, etc.
TREAT IT LIKE A
• Establish a clear vision
• Give it a name & identity
• Define an accountable product owner
• Develop a roadmap with major milestones that
align with the priorities of your organization
• Focus on one product at a time
• Focus on one team at a time
• Focus on one component at a time
• Go on a roadshow
• Know your audience & speak their language
• Top down, bottom up
• Regularly highlight success stories
• Show how the system fits within the ecosystem
MAKE IT CLEAR
THE SYSTEM IS NOT
• Comprehensive or finished
• Meant to replace strategic design, research or testing
• Get others involved early
• Have cross-functional representation
• Link up with others who are doing the same thing
• Include your users in the decision-making process
(designers, developers, product, etc.)
• People don’t like surprises
• Make sure your key stakeholders and users are aware of
upcoming changes well in advance
• Be transparent with your roadmap & backlog
LEAD WITH A
• Don’t mandate rules
• Focus on driving as much value for teams as possible by
helping make their lives easier
SOME WAYS TO HANDLE
• Cross-disciplinary council
• Team rotation
• “Office hours”
• Backlog submission
Cross-functional body comprised of leadership from
various teams that help manage & maintain the system.
A regular rotation of key roles within the design system
team to bring fresh perspectives & ideas.
A regular cadence of time to meet with & share ideas &
opportunities with members of the design system team.
A standardized way for members of an organization to
submit potential components or features for the system.
Snowflake - Born from a specific product need
System - General need for all products
• Does this component already exist in the system?
• Can a related component be used instead?
• Can this component be generalized so that other
products may benefit from it?
• A “system of systems” with a common skeleton &
well defined brand variables
• Include only what is reusable across all brands
• Define & implement a clear process for how to
create & maintain a child system from the parent
• Invest heavily in onboarding & training teams on
how to maintain the child system
• Color (e.g. shades, tints, etc.)
• Type (e.g. font family, size, weight, line height, etc.)
• Standard UI elements (e.g. inputs, buttons, etc.)
• Elevation (e.g. shadows)
• Icons & illustrations