Design teams understand the value of a design system. But creating and maintaining a design system can be time-consuming and costly — meaning you’re less likely to get buy-in from management and stakeholders without presenting metrics proving a design system’s value.
But how do designers quantify design system metrics to:
- Get buy-in from management for resources
- Encourage designers, product, engineering teams, and other stakeholders to adopt the organization’s design system and governance procedures
How to Prove a Design System’s Value?
Jack Reinelt from Somo outlines a 3-step process for proving a design system’s value.
- Define — understand the context, objectives, KPIs, and stakeholders
- Measure — use quantitative and qualitative research and data
- Communicate — understand and present the data that’s most important to stakeholders
Step 1. Define
There are four elements you must define before you can measure a design system’s value:
- Context: what drives the need for a design system, and what value will it bring to the organization?
- Objectives: what are the design system’s objectives, how does this align with the organization’s mission, and how will you make the design system accessible to all teams?
- KPIs: define how you will measure the success of the design system (read the Creating Measurable KPIs section above for ideas).
- Stakeholders: understand the goals of your stakeholders so you know what metrics matter most to them. Recognize that the CEO, CFO, and CTO all have different priorities. Your goal is to present the data that matters most to each stakeholder.
Step 2. Measure
You can measure a design system’s value in two ways:
- Quantitative: includes coverage across the organization, user research, business value. Make sure you get a baseline to measure the success of your design system implementation. Jack Reinelt also recommends re-running data every six months to track the design system’s performance.
- Qualitative: management and stakeholders also want to understand how the design system impacts teams. Feedback from various departments can complement the quantitative data.
To quantify the efficiency and value, you need to compare a baseline (your current design method) vs. the impact of a design system.
Here are some metrics you want to collect and compare for your quantitative data:
Step 3. Communicate
Communicating your findings and the design system’s value is critical to get buy-in for resources and organization-wide implementation. You must prove that the design system produces business value — how does it save time and money?
Remember to present your feedback so that every department head can see how the design system will benefit their teams. For example, the CFO might be more interested in saving time and money, while the CTO wants to know the design system’s impact on speed to market and reducing lines of code.
Ensure you have a system to track the design system’s performance for periodic updates to management and stakeholders — usually bi-annually or quarterly.
You can also provide details about your design system’s roadmap, how you plan to maximize value over time, and the resources you’ll need to implement new tools and procedures.
How to Maximize Your Design System’s Value
Implementing a design system is just the first step. With your design system in place, you need to look for ways to maximize its value…
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