Nottingham Digital Summit is well underway now, and Hallam’s Creative Director Julio Taylor, has taken to the stage in his talk about design systems, and how to ensure your design and branding is consistent to meet customer expectations.
Video: Julio Taylor – Design systems: the visual language of your brand
Slidedeck presentation: Julio Taylor – Design systems: the visual language of your brand
Customer expectations are higher than ever before
We already have lots of great brands that we use – Spotify, Netflix etc. This has driven customer expectations high, and these expectations are outside of your control.
If you want to stay relevant, you need to work hard. This means focusing on aspects such as animation, personalisation and video – design should be at the core of your marketing operations.
Design complexity is increasing exponentially
Julio outlined that a consistent presentation of a brand can increase revenue by approximately 23%. If you experience inconsistency or complexities as a designer, then there needs to be a way to resolve them.
One seemingly obvious way could be to hire more designers, but this comes with its own issues: more opinions, more criticisms, and more overheads. Instead, Julio explained that you should think about smarter results: design smarter, not faster.
A design system is a collaboration framework for digital teams. The marketing department, product team, designers and developers can get together and see what “good” looks like in terms of customer experience. Julio explained that whilst this may sound like brand guidelines, that’s actually only one aspect of a design system. Details like button sizes and fonts can eliminate some aspects that will lead to inconsistency, but that’s only one section of your design system.
Design systems have many building blocks. In addition to brand guidelines, there are the following things to consider:
- Tone of voice
- UI Patterns
Julio outlined the 80/20 rule: 80% of your experience should match the expectations of your customer in 20% of the time, through design systems. After all, you need to aim for exceptional, as that’s what customers have come to expect.
You must create a consistent user experience to make your design reusable. Think of Starbucks: the colour, logo, welcome, writing on the orders board… it’s all uniform. No matter where you are in the world, your experience will be the same in Starbucks.
This consistency must capture your brand personality at the same time, through just a few touch-points.
Julio went through a couple more examples of this:
- Google: Think of Google Maps. No matter the device you use, the shape and size of the buttons, the search box and the text is consistent. Regardless of the device, if you download the app, you’ll know how to use it.
- Shopify: They put accessibility at the core of what they deliver, as that’s how they define acceptable user experience. This means if you want to sell something on Shopify, it must be accessible.
How to create a design system
Julio explained that the process of creating a design system is complex, but there are a few things to take into consideration:
- Democratise the Process: Include senior management, designers, developers, content, social, external agencies etc in talks. The more you speak to people, the more you learn.
- Design System is a Product: It should be treated as such – it needs a budget, a process and sign off.
- It Should Evolve Continuously: Taking into account demand and market changes, you have to evolve.
- How consistent is your brand online? Audit and talk to your teams.
- Is there a single source of truth? If you bring an agency on-board, do you know that they know what “good” looks like?
- Are your teams working in partnership with your agency? Do you have a close relationship and shared vision of what “good” looks like? If you don’t, then you should consider bringing the agency on-board – after all, to achieve consistency across your platforms, you need to be working towards the same thing together.