Design Systems philosophy

Establish Relationships

No matter the size of your company, building a design system requires a lot of communication, bridge building, and breaking down silos between business units and roles. At Walmart HQ, there were several challenges between Design and Engineering that always seemed to get in the way of us building a design system (and in the way of building product in general).

People Problems

Design and Engineering were at odds with each other over a couple basic issues:

This was obviously a relationship problem, but it was a process problem too. The engineers have a big job; translating a mockup into a functional app is no small task. By not giving them more say and insight into the design process we were robbing them of user insight that would help them build a better product, as well as creating mistrust that Design was making design decisions that had solid research and planning.

By the time we really started solving these problems, my time left here was short, but we started solving this by expanding our design system processes to include steps for engineering design review, sign off, and prioritization. Prioritization would include giving engineering time to build a reusable component that all of the product teams in Store Systems could use. The output of this relationship was a Zeplin Styleguide which was signed off by both Design and Engineering as "The Source of Truth" and which both sides would build from.