A look at the history of design systems and how they differ from pattern libraries. Or, to put it another way, a pattern library is one part of a design system.
Monday, April 10th, 2017
Monday, April 3rd, 2017
Design-system builders should resist the lure of the new. Don’t confuse design-system work with a rebrand or a tech-stack overhaul. The system’s design patterns should be familiar, even boring.
The job is not to invent, but to curate.
Interesting thoughts from Josh on large-scale design systems and how they should prioritise the mundane but oft-used patterns.
When the design system is boring, it frees designers and developers to do the new stuff, to solve new problems. The design system carries the burden of the boring, so that designers and developers don’t have to.
Monday, March 20th, 2017
Paul finishes up his excellent three part series by getting down to the brass tacks of designing and building components on the web …and in cities. His closing provocation has echoes of Heydon’s rallying cry.
If you missed the other parts of this series, they are:
Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
Dan describes his approach to maintainable CSS. It’s a nice balance between semantic naming and reusable styles.
Warning: the analogies used here might make you very, very hungry.
Saturday, February 4th, 2017
Philip Ball certainly has a way with words.
Friday, January 6th, 2017
Paul is turning his excellent talk on design systems into a three part series. Here’s part one, looking at urban planning from Brasília to London.
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017
Ethan has been thinking smarty-thinky thoughts about patterns and pattern libraries.
Monday, November 21st, 2016
Gall’s Fundamental Theorem of Systems is that new systems mean new problems. I think the same can safely be said of code—more code, more problems. Do it without a new system if you can
A cautionary tale of the risks involved with embracing new frameworks.
But when you introduce a new system, you introduce new variables, new failure points, and new problems.
…almost anything is easier to get into than out of.
Friday, October 21st, 2016
A ten-year old paper that looks at the history of the ARAPNET and internet to see how they dealt with necessary changes.
Changing a large network is very difficult. It is much easier to deploy a novel new protocol that fills a void than it is to replace an existing protocol that more or less works.
Monday, October 10th, 2016
Here’s an epic brain dump by Vitaly on the challenges of putting together a pattern library and then maintaining it.
Sacrificing consistency for usability is fine. A slightly open-ended, inconsistent but heavily used pattern library is better than a perfectly consistent pattern library that is never used.
Wednesday, October 5th, 2016
Monday, August 8th, 2016
Dan has been researching the history of design systems, annotating as he goes.
Thursday, July 21st, 2016
A newsletter dedicated to all things related to design systems, style guides, and pattern libraries.
Thursday, July 14th, 2016
Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
Saturday, March 5th, 2016
Something to remember the next time someone describes an experience as “seamless” and means it to be positive:
This is the Amazon move: absolute obfuscation of labor and logistics behind a friendly buy button. The experience for a Sprig customer is super convenient, almost magical; the experience for a chef or courier…? We don’t know. We don’t get to know. We’re just here to press the button.
I feel bad, truly, for Amazon and Sprig and their many peers—SpoonRocket, Postmates, Munchery, and the rest. They build these complicated systems and then they have to hide them, because the way they treat humans is at best mildly depressing and at worst burn-it-down dystopian.
What would it be like if you didn’t have to hide the system?
A new publication from MIT. It deliberately avoids the jargon that’s often part and parcel of peer-reviewed papers, and all of the articles are published under a Creative Commons attribution licence.
The first issue is dedicated to Marvin Minsky and features these superb articles, all of which are independently excellent but together form an even greater whole…
When the cybernetics movement began, the focus of science and engineering was on things like guiding a ballistic missile or controlling the temperature in an office. These problems were squarely in the man-made domain and were simple enough to apply the traditional divide-and-conquer method of scientific inquiry.
Science and engineering today, however, is focused on things like synthetic biology or artificial intelligence, where the problems are massively complex. These problems exceed our ability to stay within the domain of the artificial, and make it nearly impossible for us to divide them into existing disciplines.
This essay proposes a map for four domains of creative exploration—Science, Engineering, Design and Art—in an attempt to represent the antidisciplinary hypothesis: that knowledge can no longer be ascribed to, or produced within, disciplinary boundaries, but is entirely entangled.
The designers of complex adaptive systems are not strictly designing systems themselves. They are hinting those systems towards anticipated outcomes, from an array of existing interrelated systems. These are designers that do not understand themselves to be in the center of the system. Rather, they understand themselves to be participants, shaping the systems that interact with other forces, ideas, events and other designers. This essay is an exploration of what it means to participate.
As our technological and institutional creations have become more complex, our relationship to them has changed. We now relate to them as we once related to nature. Instead of being masters of our creations, we have learned to bargain with them, cajoling and guiding them in the general direction of our goals. We have built our own jungle, and it has a life of its own.
Thursday, July 30th, 2015
When another company achieves success, there’s a lot of pressure to investigate what they did right and apply that to our own organizations.
But we still have a chance. As long as we run brave organizations made up of even braver souls who are willing to embrace expression, trust their intuition and experiences, and stand up when everyone else is sitting down, we will survive.
Friday, January 9th, 2015
As always, systems thinking makes a lot of sense for analysing problems, even if—or, especially if—it’s a social issue.
Friday, November 30th, 2012
I really like these thoughts on the importance of design systems for the web. It’s not about providing a few perfect deliverables that won’t survive once they go live; it’s about designing for the unexpected, the unpredictable:
Design for every state, not the best state.