🎨 Design systems don't restrict creativity (#32)

June 14, 2021

newsletter

Happy Monday!

This morning I came across a tweet from Sarah Federman that I really agreed with.

What if designers spent less time arguing about whether design systems ruin their creativity and more time thinking about designing for disabled people and preventing abuse

I’ve always questioned the perspective that design systems make designers less creative for a few important reasons.

Adding constraints induces creativity, it doesn’t restrict it

When humans are faced with endless choices, we freeze. Writers call this “writer’s block” or “blank page syndrome.” To get around writer’s block, writers apply constraints to their process, like choosing a form, a genre, or a writing prompt.

All kinds of creative people apply constraints. Artists select a medium, musicians select a genre. Why should web designers be any different?

We need to build on what came before

Humans could never have invented Teslas if we had to reinvent the wheel every time. We need to build on what has worked before.

How can a designer ever design a better user interface if they have to continuously reinvent the button?

Reinventing symbols is antithetical to design goals

The most important aspect of a web designer’s job is to make sure that all users can navigate a website.

If urban planners constantly changed the design of a stop sign, a city would become difficult to navigate (and actually quite dangerous). For this reason, it’s much better practice to stick to the pre-defined symbology of the web.

Urban planners can be creative about where the streets lead and what they look like, but they must be constrained to certain symbols that help our users to navigate those streets.

What do you think? Do design systems impose too many constraints on designers?

Talk soon, Mae


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