Patterns Day 2019 - Alla Kholmatova

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With the poetic beauty that we’ve come to expect from Jeremy Keith over the years, what could have been a more lovely way to start the day than how the last one ended. Alla Kholmatova gave a brilliantly unforgettable closing talk at Patterns Day 1 and she was back to open Patterns Day 2.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, I knew Alla was going to be great. But I think I was expecting lots of positive vibes about design systems. Instead the whole day had a subtle theme of being far more critical, encouraging and yet realistic about the struggles and the actual benefits.

Here are some of my notes, though I didn’t decide to start taking notes straight away so there was definitely more that I missed:

  • Testing a component per organisation. One can see same result every time whereas a different organisation can have absolute opposite result consistently
  • The revenue of design systems doesn’t come from consistency it comes from being able to quickly experiment and make new things
  • Figuring out brand isn’t the goal of a design system
  • “Establishing a brand is an excellent use of a design system but only if there is a reason for the decision”
  • “haven’t used it in the last year. We just needed to ship things really fast” isn’t that the point?
  • Over inflated expectations around design systems
  • Invest time in appropriate places. If you do a lot of forms focus on that otherwise focus on something else
  • Airbnb DLS have a component efficiency index, if you have a lot of components with high reuse factor and lots of people using then will save time to focus on that
  • Stage of product lifecycle affects it
  • Early stage is too fast to constrain a design system so have to adapt per stage
  • Marvel didn’t use their style guide because they were building a new application. Still strict about organising and sharing design language but “right now it needs to be a bit scrappy”
  • “Without react working on the design system always get like an uphill struggle” Jay Begum at Future Learn