With the pace of communication and the number of channels both steadily increasing, along with the availability of a wide variety of devices, the challenge of creating a consistent, on-brand user experience that spans multiple touchpoints continues to get more and more complex. Tight budgets and lean staffing add to the pressure on marketing teams.
Don’t escalate, scale up with design systems instead
A digital system that is able to scale up and down quickly helps you respond swiftly to market and communication requirements, while still allowing you to develop high-quality content. Design systems provide the necessary prerequisites. Here, all elements relevant to the development and design of a consistent user experience are pooled and the rules and principles are defined in terms of colors, tone, typography, function, or animations.
The heart of a design system is its design library. The library is the digital toolbox where all interface components are stored and easily accessible. This includes brand elements (such as logos, claims, etc.), guidelines and graphic components that define how they build on each other.
The design system is the central repository for all project participants including frontend and backend developers, UX designers and copywriters, ensuring that different participants develop content independent of each other and ultimately create a consistent look & feel across different touchpoints.
Design System/Design Library
All the essential basic components “ready to use”
A positive user experience is not only the result of attractive, recognizable design, it also comes from good usability, just like, for example, applications from Google or Apple are based on the same principles, creating familiarity and enabling quick orientation. With this in mind, it makes sense to define a design library not only in terms of visual aspects, but above all in terms of proven functional aspects.
Every digital application has certain basic components, such as buttons, search boxes and typographic markups, which should have the same structure. If these components are already programmed and documented as functional elements, this can speed up the development process enormously. The advantage of such a dynamic pattern library is that designers and developers can easily access the ready-made elements and integrate them in the company’s existing design. If form or color requirements change in the future, for example as a result of a brand relaunch, all elements can be adapted to the new look in just a few simple steps.
This ensures the standards are provided in a budget-friendly manner and with a high quality – leaving more of the budget available for the individual development of business-critical functions.
To smoothly map the entire workflow process, we use a coordinated pattern library for designers and developers. Our Velocy design system maps both the design process and the finished HTML/CSS components for display in the browser.
With Velocy, basic elements like ready-to-use, working buttons are stored and readily available. Here the view in Figma (left) and as a finished HTML component in Fractal (right).
Headless CMS in the role of particle accelerator
This ready-to-use toolbox can be coupled with a headless content management system using a specially developed adapter.
A headless CMS is responsible for straightforward content management (backend), storing the content in a structured way without formatting and making it readily available to numerous other systems.
Content only has to be maintained in one place, yet can be displayed in many different frontends (mobile app, corporate website, internal collaboration platform and more). They retrieve the required content from the headless CMS via an interface (API). Since the content is delivered without formatting, it is easy to customize the display of the content received for the respective intended use, without having to wrestle with templates and the special characteristics of a traditional CMS. Depending on the system, content can not just be queried by API, it can also be fed in. This allows that a headless CMS such as Prismic can also be linked to other existing systems, for example to enhance product pages on the website with data from the Product Information Management System (PIM). This avoids duplicate storage of the same data in an additional location – and with it, potential sources of error and manual efforts.
Getting that extra degree of flexibility
Adapting the corporate identity of the brand in a relaunch project because the needs of its users have changed, but keeping the in-house CMS? You can do it with this setup. Replacing and modernizing the backend system because, for example, editing processes have changed – but keeping the brand’s proven user interface and corporate identity for visitors? No problem. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: it saves you time and money.
Even entire redesigns of the website are easy to do without having to change the content.
By combining the content from the headless CMS with the ready-to-use components of the design library, websites, apps, landing pages and postings can be created in a very short time.
Along with accelerating the process enormously, this also enables high quality standards to be set, as the components – once they have been created with great diligence – can be used over and over again. This method facilitates the conception process tremendously, because new pages to be created can be displayed in the original design and allow for a better review of the content.
The user-friendly interface of the CMS also makes it possible for users from the company to publish their own content, like social media posts, while ensuring a consistent brand experience.
Time for what really matters
At a time when the creation of a consistent user experience is getting more and more complex and new requirements such as accessibility are also being addressed, it is an enormous advantage to pre-produce certain standards with their functionalities and store them in a structured environment. When technical and design details are handled this way, it not only speeds up processes, it also frees up resources for developing the brand and improving the quality of the user experience.
The advantages of a design system used in conjunction with a headless CMS
- Enormously fast scalability: Multiple teams can work in parallel and only need to combine ready-made components.
- Financial savings: Not every element has to be newly programmed, access to existing design and functional elements accelerates conception and production processes.
- Easy adaptability: Colors, fonts and functionalities can be adapted and changed automatically for all modules.
- Fast onboarding: UX designers, frontend and backend developers all tap into a central repository and possess the same understanding.
- User-friendly: Marketing teams can create content themselves with the easy-to-use CMS.
- Flexibility: With our solution, you can replace or add individual components of the solution as needed (headless CMS, adapter/backend technology, or design library).
- Real-time preview: Newly created pages can be displayed in their original design, allowing for better review of the content.
- Positive user experience: A consistent brand experience and recurring interaction components create a pleasant experience spanning numerous touchpoints.
Would you like to exchange ideas with us on the subject or do you have a challenge? We are looking forward to your contact: call +49 611 . 238 50 10 or by eMail to kontakt(at)diefirma.de.
Vanessa Bucceri on Unsplash.com