7️⃣How to enable adoption and govern a design system

👋 Introduction

After successfully running a pilot, it's important to ensure that teams can smoothly use the components and foundations for their needs. At this point, you'll also start considering the next components and updates, meanwhile teams will also reach out with their requests. This stage highlights the significance of adoption and governance in the design system's evolution.

1️⃣ Adoption

Adopting a design system involves more than just technical implementation; it's a cultural/habit shift within a team. Here are some practices that can facilitate the adoption of a design system

Document your design system

  • One fundamental way to help with adoption is to have your design system well documented. Covered here Documentation

Host workshops

  • Host interactive workshops for teams to learn and use the design system effectively. Gather feedback during these sessions to continually enhance the system.

Test with teams

  • Test WIP components to ensure the system addresses their needs, keeping in mind the guideline for a design system component.

  • This collaborative approach can help refine components and enhance their usability.

Create visibility

  • Share regular updates through newsletters or Slack messages to keep teams informed about any design system changes or additions. Share visuals and demos to make it engaging.

  • Join meetings (like design critiques) to observe and support the team whenever you identify opportunities for the design system to contribute to ongoing discussion/project.

Create champions

  • Acknowledge team members who've found the design system transformative in their workflow. Encourage them to advocate for its use and assist others in adopting it effectively.

  • Give these champions recognition—sharing their successes will inspire others to embrace the system and its benefits.

2️⃣ Governance

To scale your system in a cohesive and sustainable way, keep in mind that a design system team’s job is really to solve the common problems. The more the design system team tries to accommodate one-off problems, the less focus you can have on solving problems at scale.

An often encountered issue with design system teams is becoming a bottleneck while supporting feature teams by creating new components or additions.

To prevent this:

  • Focus solely on requests or components that are currently needed by at least 3 teams or features. Keep revisiting and updating the component list.

  • Let the team know that if this request is echoed by other teams as well, we'll escalate and prioritise it accordingly.

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