We all have a process. Each of us, as professionals in the digital space, utilize procedures and techniques that have made us successful. To get the job done as a User Experience Architect, there are stages in a design process, based on industry standards, that have given us the ability to determine if an application or feature is Discoverable, Findable, Understandable, or Usable. These are the key principles of User Experience, and how projects can define, deliver, and measure success.

But what happens when you come across a new process that changes the way you approach design problems and speeds up your productivity as well? Utilizing Design Systems allow product development teams to do just that. While style guides for digital experiences have been around for decades, they quickly become dated because they can't evolve. There is no baked-in feedback loop to a document you can print or file away in an obscure network drive. A Design System is a combination of a tool and methodology, that allows for cohesive digital experiences. It is a product that serves other digital products.

FPAC Design System hosted on Github

At the USDA, part of my role as a UX Architect is to help build, test, and evangelize the FSA Design System, whose purpose is to bring cohesion and consistency to over 250 applications designed and developed by federal employees.

$1 Million for Buttons

We presented to various groups within the USDA, and I started each presentation explaining a very common situation for organizations that have a large number of development teams. By first identifying a problem, and sharing it with executive-level stakeholders, we were able to gain buy-in from the top. Organizations spend millions of dollars often reinventing the wheel, or button in this case, and a Design System helps to eliminate this failed practice.

Below are slides from the presentation that illustrated the impact of many development teams all producing buttons which creates a library of inconsistent buttons, and costs the organization millions of dollars.