3 Factors That Make Design Systems Last

December 9, 2022

We’ve helped dozens of enterprise teams implement design systems at scale. From this work, here are 3 factors that must be present in order for a design system to endure while offering maximum benefits.

1. Clear Documentation and Integration Tooling

To ensure adoption of your new design system, documentation is key. Documentation makes the design system easy and accessible for developers, designers, and other product stakeholders. While documentation should be done carefully, it’s helpful to start with the following four categories:

  • Details. Label each component with what it is, what it does, and when to use.
  • Examples. Provide code that can be rendered, rather than a static image. 
  • Design References. Visual guidelines should include do’s and don'ts.
  • Code References. Detail the component API, props, and event handlers.

Also be sure to include notes on content guidelines, accessibility, and scalability, and how to implement components in certain circumstances.

Build tools are also essential for breaking down barriers to adoption and streamlining the entire process within your existing technology stack. When it’s easy to adopt a design system into the development team’s standard workflow, there’s more confidence in its utilization, which promotes team-wide advocacy and investment.

2. Incremental Progression

The more complex the product, the more complicated it is to adopt style and components. To simplify understanding (while improving adoption), break it down into a series of steps. Create simple levels to move adopters through each phase. Also, take note of teams that may already be overwhelmed by a backlog. How can you support them and make adoption as easy as possible?

3. Talk in Stories

Talking in stories is to talk about the language of how teams organize work. Stories clarify specifics, align achievable goals, and present an opportunity for system team members to influence tasks.

Takeaway: Work with team members — managers, designers, and engineers — to order and craft stories based on their needs.


Any effective product leader will tell you that a well-conceived and widely-adopted design system is crucial for creating scalable, customer-centric products. Yet, many companies struggle with design system creation and adoption, for reasons ranging from poor communication to failed implementation.

Fortunately, our experience helping enterprise design and development teams makes us the perfect partner in design system implementation. Maybe you need a business-critical partner who can ensure adoption of a design system to boost the consistency and efficacy of your products. Or, perhaps you’re overwhelmed with implementing design systems, or don’t have the team to support the project. 

Either way, the team at Crux can help. To find out more essential factors that make design systems last, contact us to access the entire free design system guide.

If you're interested in a free chat, drop us a line. Together, we can make a plan to improve product experiences—both for the experts who create them, and the customers who use them.