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Rune Madsen on the intersection of user experience and design systems

Emmet Connolly
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There is tension between having a broad general purpose design system or an in-house design system tailored to the company.

User experience of design systems

  • Many people think of design systems as web components or digital products.
  • Rune Madsen has a broader definition: any systematic structure that eases the burden of work on designers & heightens the quality of the product.

Understanding the rise & risk of systems

  • Design systems have become a trend because our workflows naturally will move towards optimization & consistency is ensured.
  • However, there are 2 main problems with this:
    • These systems benefit the designer, not the users
    • The systems lead to a monoculture where many products look the same.

A need for design tools to evolve

  • The problem with current tools is that we are bound to a waterfall process where designers work in one tool, while developers work in another.
  • Designers & programmers should be unified around a single tool. Therefore, our tools need to change to bridge the gap.

Where design & programming meet

  • It can be risky to make aesthetic Sketch or Photoshop files the source of truth when it comes to product design.
  • One interesting way of combating that is Airbnb’s recent React work, which reverses the typical Sketch to code process. Material Design also has problems. It is promoted as a design system for everyone, but it has a big mission to make everything look like Google.
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