Patterns Day 2019 - Inayaili de León

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Continuing the theme of thinking critically about design systems, Inayaili bravely gave away the secrets of the trade and did some myth busting. By taking “untruths” such as “no one ever needs custom components” she was able to explain that while these things may be true in an ideal world it just isn’t the case for any real world project. I really liked the point about the design systems public documentation for big companies being their version of ideal instagram pictures, looks perfect on the outside but is as chaotic on the inside as everyone else’s.

Here are my notes:

  • Works at Microsoft
  • Used to work on Ubuntu
  • “I’ve made a lot of mistakes myself” haven’t we all, not easy
  • “You think you’re never going to get to that same point”
  • “What you see on those beautiful sites are a facade”
  • “Design systems are for teams what Instagram is for life”
  • No one has it figured out, not even the big companies that talk about it all the time
  • People don’t understand the point
  • “When they have to slow down, when they have to wait for things, they forget how excited they were”
  • Beautiful documentation on Microsoft DevOps design system but loads of components in production undocumented.
  • I expected this conference to be really positive about design systems, when I have been struggling with them myself. Extremely refreshing to hear similar thoughts.
  • “Untruth: Everyone works together in harmony. The truth is everyone block each other all the time”
  • “Creating standards is a slow process”
  • “Be comfortable about being slower than feature teams”
  • “Untruth: no one ever needs custom components. The truth is: someone needs a custom component every day”
  • Say no.
  • Solutions are to make it, or to say it is too soon
  • I think it’s critical to be able to add custom components on the project that is using the design system, then give it back to the design system if works well but that seems to have very little support. Wonder if most projects don’t have a design/front end development team on the projects that use the design systems.
  • I also think there’s a massive amount of similarities between design system and say something like an API, programming system
  • Important to work together
  • If you don’t start trusting other people to work on the system, including testing, then you’re going to be a blocker
  • If you know someone is doing testing soon, ask them to include new component in the test
  • Work closely to see their pain implementing the design system, test with users of the system not the end users