Why are we building a design systems conference?

Jan 29, 2018

Everyone is talking about it. At the same time whenever everyone is talking about it, there is a lot of buzz and hype around it. That is great. But it should not take us away from the prime reason of Design Systems. They are here to serve as the single source of truth for delightful and functional products and services.

At DSCONF, we felt that we ought to open up the conversation. In the local scene, of course, but on a global scale as well. We have keynotes, talks, case studies, workshops and networking. All of these formats of communication are catering people who are advocating design systems, people who are building them, people who are thinking about creating one, and people who want to know the value of design systems before they put their money on it.

Design Systems; a genuine way to bind disciplines together

The message is clear: It is hard to create a good user experience, and moreover, a cohesive good user experience, that is continuous and scalable. A lot of things happen in the area of Design Systems and in cross disciplinary levels in teams.

In engineering, React excels through a really strong support of a massive community, plugins and solutions. At the same time resources as Storybook, have created grounds for teams to dip their hands in creating their first living style guides. Consequently, the immense race of Vue (now the most growing library on Github) to the top, has bred a great amount of solutions to the table, bringing a whole new air to the Design Systems community.

In design, plugins in sketch spew out of developer repositories to help designers keep up in a fast paced environment. Sketch itself has now shared libraries, a major step towards up to date style guides in design assets. Products like Figma bringing real time collaboration to the front, while tools like Abstract bring an easily integrated solution to design versioning control. Invision Studio is one of the most anticipated tools for 2018 and there is literally a myriad of design tools out there.

In business, management of teams implementing Design Systems in their products have seen the results in KPIs, and improving in customer experience.

If you did not guess it already, this is heralding a new era of collaboration between disciplines.

Proven results
Somewhere in 2011, investor Marc Andreessen penned his famous essay on the WSJ, known as “Software is eating the world”. Today there is no sign of that trend slowing down at any given point, therefore we understand that the need for Design Systems to serve as the single source of truth is becoming excruciatingly critical.

In their Enterprise UX Industry Report, UXPin concludes that 69% of enterprises, companies such as Saleforce, IBM, Airbnb and Atlassian, either have or are currently working on a design system. At the same time 59% of the companies think that their biggest challenge is improving consistency!

Software is built by a large amount of people with different backgrounds. Often, the amount of people involved in a development of a product can explode as a product matures and grows. There are in house people involved, consultants, sometimes freelancers…

Design Systems are there to serve by establishing a clear path to consistency. An inconsistent product leads to user frustration, an unclear design process, a slow development time and ultimately more costs. By nature, good design should provide clarity in products, and with that, Design Systems establish a level of familiarity and safety to the user.

A (not just only) digital transformation

The recent years, depending on how you see it, have been the golden era of design and development solutions, or the era of great confusion. Personally I tend to think that it is not the products that make the professionals, but the opposite. So, I have been enjoying the development of those solutions and welcoming the challenges that they bring along the way. Faster than ever you can develop a product, test it with crowds, develop it, release it and ship it to millions.

With design tools nowadays a designer spends just $99/year to be able to design a full product. With recent development frameworks you build a scalable service and you can deploy it in cloud services with minimum costs until you hit critical mass. You can reach millions across the globe with user testing services, and you can market to millions with social media. The world has not been more agile but also cluttered!

Designers, developers and marketers are merging together in teams. At the same time those professions are not anymore strict to their respected skillsets. Designers learn to code, more than ever. Developers are able to prototype and create user experiences. Marketers can fuse design and developer skills to create compelling growth hacking techniques while at the same time gaining insight how to do that without compromising user experience.

In behemoth companies like IBM, we have seen a massive transformation in Design Thinking mindset. At the same time, enterprises like Intuit has done incredible work, exhaustive studies, documentation and building on Harmony, their Design System.

So where does that lead us? We need a common ground to be able to come together, hear stories, share experiences, get contacts and build together a better digital footprint for humans.

At the crossroads of expertise

DSCONF presents a unique opportunity. We combine two different vantage points when it comes to Design Systems. Speakers like Nathan, Jina, Hayley and Karri have incredible experiences and stories to share, bringing a worldwide view to the motivated and eager to learn northern tech & design scene. At the same time our partner companies talk about what has been done locally, and sharing their own experiences and journeys to the global market, to showcase their way of doing things.

Do not let the technical terms scare you. In the end we all try to solve real problems. The best tool to equip with you whenever you decide to come to DSCONF, is an open but critical mind.

DSCONF is an event for digital product designers, builders, business owners and organizations who want to learn how to build design systems and why they are needed in the future. We are at a crossroads whereby making the right decisions, you will gain a significant business advantage and ensure the best possible user experience for your digital products and services.