The Era of Design Systems Is Gone

History of Russian Design Systems

The growth of interest to design systems in Russian market began somewhere in the mid-tens. The starting point is probably Anton Vinogradov’s speech at PiterCSS about the architecture of Alfa-Bank’s design system in March 2016. Although the roots, of course, should be looked for earlier.

What’s Up With Design Systems Right Now

If you go to DESIGN SYSTEMS CLUB today, you will see only 8 links to design systems of companies of Russian market (Yandex can be crossed out, because BEM Design, DEPO and BEAST projects did not take off, and the link leads simply to BEM methodology).

  1. Graphic editing software (largely thanks to Figma) have survived the war with code and remain the main tools of the designer.
  2. It is still only mobile design that lends itself to some sort of systematization. Largely thanks to the standard platform interface elements and patterns in iOS and Android. And also thanks to a simple single-stream vertical structure, which allows a simple system of containers and indents between them, which simplifies the process of page design. Another thing is the web, where there are columns, which means there are several threads between which you need to maintain consistency.
  3. This is not a design system, but a library of basic components. A little more complicated, a little more tricked out, augmented with templates, but still a library — the well-established knowledge that registered, formalized and put on the shelf.
  4. The main task of this library, as the guys themselves say, is saving time on searching for or redrawing standard screens or states, which allows you to focus more on the task. In other words — the designer does not need to start with a blank frame, but can take a ready-made page (or quickly build it themselves) and, with it, start solving their problem.

The Problems of Design Systems

Why haven’t design systems moved beyond UI libraries with basic components? There are several reasons:

Designer ≠ Engineer.

From my own observations I can say that when a designer starts to get involved in something other than design — project management, research, prototyping in code — it immediately affects the visual quality of his solutions.

Product Growth

The market is constantly growing and accelerating. To compete, a product has to learn to react faster to changes around it and constantly offer something new and something better.

The Need for Strong Designers

Well, of course, one of the main ideas of all this was to create a tool that can be given to even an unskilled designer and expect in response if not strong, then at least a confident solution.

The Future of Design Systems

The topic of design systems is gradually leaving the zeitgeist. And this is a good sign that the era of the race for a spectacular picture for conferences is gone, and the companies that started all this with us five years ago, have moved on to reflect on the work done: what of what we have done during this time, works effectively?

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