Design innovation vs. production: Striking the right balance with a design system

Critical to customer experience, a design system empowers constrained design teams to collaborate and turn design into a competitive advantage

By | 4 minute read | November 4, 2019

Consistency and customer experience happen by design

Digital technology is in a state of perpetual change. At the same time, customer expectations continue to rise, putting additional pressure on an organization’s ability to meet and engage customers with consistency and ease across every channel. All too often siloed teams are challenged with meeting or maintaining the design expectations of today’s digital brands. That’s why many businesses are choosing to implement a design system, bringing order to the chaos, and focusing resources on both quality production and customer experience.

A well-managed design system is the answer

A design system is a centralized way that an organization designs and implements products. It serves to unite distributed design teams, opening up agile communication and collaboration while delivering higher quality customer experiences, faster. Once deployed, a design system allows companies to expedite and scale their design production efforts, with consistency.  Companies can then refocus constrained design resources on innovating of customer experiences that reinforce the brand, not redundant design production– ultimately impacting the business.

The value of a design system at Follett

Follett runs over 1800 campus bookstore sites – each independently branded to bring the university’s campus to life – and needed to provide an integrated platform for its users. The core idea was to create a design system that aligned to and could scale based on Follett’s content strategy across universities along with their complex eCommerce processes.

IBM iX helped Follett reinvent its commerce experience using digital capabilities built on Adobe Experience Manager and IBM Watson Commerce platform. The new system allowed for rapid branding changes, as well as store-specific customizations, so Follett could provide a unique destination for course materials and general merchandise, as well as information on campus life.

“Spending the time to develop a design system has helped Follet reinvent and scale our customer experience. The entire solution has been a game changer” said Lori Krzyzewski, Vice President Ecommerce Product Management and Digital Advertising  at Follett.  “Working with IBM iX and Adobe has helped us ultimately increase sales and deliver a complete e-Commerce to store experience.” 

Enterprises across the board benefit from a design system

Organizations are embracing design systems to manage their brand and digital transformation for multiple reasons.

  • Enterprises of all types and sizes that want to provide a uniform brand experience across all of their digital assets and channels
  • Enterprises that are in constant flux with their digital designs and product portfolios
  • Enterprises that are growing across business units and geographies and need to scale with consistency
  • Enterprises working in a highly competitive marketplace that are using their brand and experience to differentiate themselves
  • Enterprises who use various interface experience platforms such as mobile and AR who need to integrate their systems and drive consistency

Multiple paths let you develop a design system tailored to your business

IBM iX’s first Design Systems as a Service offering using Adobe XD debuted this week at Adobe MAX. This service makes it easier for global organizations to implement and manage their own design system. We help you establish a comprehensive design system using an enterprise operating model that drives collaboration across your organization — and provide a framework to design and implement content and digital products at scale. As a result, your teams can achieve a faster time-to-market, work smarter, and decrease costs due to a reduction in development time — from months to weeks. In fact, 50% fewer development hours are required to create new pages and screen templates.

Ultimately a design system gives you and your teams the time they need to focus on new customer experiences, creative business ideas and future innovation. Learn more about what IBM iX’s Design Systems and as a Services and Adobe XD can do for your business.

Choosing the right design system does matter 

IBM iX and Adobe work closely with your team to design and implement a robust, custom design system. We build an organizational governance model that outlines and identifies the key roles, responsibilities, and processes that must be in place to keep order and ultimate success to the project. Optionally, organizations can choose to build their design system from scratch, or using IBM Carbon, an open-source design system which further accelerates the development of your design system. Once in place you may also choose to outsource all design system governance and maintenance responsibilities to IBM iX’s design experts.

Is it time for your business to implement a design system?

Did you know that customer experience is considered the biggest differentiator for business growth?  Investing in experience is paying off.

  • Design-driven companies outperformed the S&P Index by 219% over 10 years
  • Every dollar invested in user experience recoups 100x.
  • On average, acquiring a new customer costs around 6X more than keeping an existing one

IBM iX’s Design Systems as a Service delivers the experts, processes, tools and systems to design and implement a customer-centric design system model.  The goal is to meet your specific business needs while preparing you for future growth and scale, with a concentrated focus on helping you optimize and meet your customer experience goals.

Learn more

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