Six principles all great design systems have in common

Design systems are quickly becoming a must-have for large and small organisations alike. They promote consistency, speed up the design and development processes, and ensure every part of the digital interface is built on the same principles and values. I researched some of the best-in-class examples and identified six shared principles of great design systems.

Tiina Golub
5 min readSep 22, 2022

1. They are built on company values

It’s easy to say that you want to create an “easy, clear and enjoyable” user experience and focus on these principles. But the truth is, no one aims to build interfaces that are difficult, confusing and unpleasant to use, so how will your product stand out from the crowd?

To create an interface that has personality, you need to go beyond the common usability principles and define your brand values. These can focus on the product, for example Pinterest that described its interface as “lucid, animated, unbreakable”, on the user, as shown by Medium who give writers “direction over choice”, or on internal processes, like the GOV.UK team who aim to “do less, iterate, then iterate again”.

Define 3–5 principles that are true for your product and make sure everyone on the team not only memorises…

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Tiina Golub

Senior product designer at Avantra | Design mentor at ADPList. Passionate about inclusive design, behavioural psychology and minimalism.