By Alla Kholmatova
288 pages, hardcover, $29
Published by Smashing Media AG
Intrigued with identifying the features that create a high-functioning, enduring web design system, Alla Kholmatova created this practical guide based on her experience as an interaction and visual designer and her research of five companies, each with different design challenges.
As multiple designers work on larger, more complex websites, modular design systems are serving their need for access to consistent form and function styles. Design Systems first analyzes the core building blocks of a design system, and then follows with a process to create and maintain a pattern library.
The library tool is for collecting and sharing design patterns with guidelines on their use. It includes perceptual patterns—the aesthetic choices of color and typography that focus on how a product should intuitively feel. In addition, there are functional patterns, such as buttons and headers that enable certain user behaviors. One engaging system is the Visual Loudness Guide. Designed by Tom Osborne, it presents buttons and links as a suite of different volumes that range from Shout (representing a “Buy Now” button) to Murmur (a “Close” button). The volume helps define its purpose and easily conveys its prominence to the organization’s team, providing a common, shared language for more effective collaboration.
Written for designers, user experience practitioners and product teams, Design Systems is an insightful primer with both a human and a technical focus. “We owe it to ourselves and the people who use our products,” writes Kholmatova, “to constantly consider and challenge the shape this language takes, and be thoughtful in what we contribute to it.” —Ruth Hagopian