If someone were to come up to your design team and ask, “What are you working on?” would the answer be all the scattered tasks your team is working on or would you have a coherent answer specifying the focus area for your team now and what you are going to deliver next?
The latter comes easily when you have in place a design system roadmap.
A design system roadmap allows your design team and relevant stakeholders to know the timeline, various tasks, milestones, deliverables, and future releases. This helps bring clarity and transparency in the process.
Let’s see how you can build the perfect design system roadmap for your team:
1. Set goals
What is the main purpose for creating this roadmap? To manage expectations? Or to have a clear process for your entire team because you’re working on multiple projects?
2. Carry out an audit
See what you have and document everything. You can categorize your audit into 3 major categories: Visual (colors, fonts, images, logos), UI Components (Buttons, form fields, modals), and Interactions (microinteractions, animations)
3. Conduct research
Talk with design system’s users to learn about current workflows, pain points, their expectations from this system. You should also collect previous roadmaps, backlogs, UX strategy, and other relevant documents to ensure there’s no duplication of work and the new design system roadmap adheres to all current strategies and workflows.
4. Define and prioritize the parts you need to build
Making use of the above two steps, define all the parts of the design system you need to build or fix. Once that is listed out, you need to prioritize all these parts and then create a timeline accordingly. If you’re building a design system from scratch, break down your design system into small parts and start with basic styles and elements first. If you’re making changes to an existing design system, prioritize components and elements related to usability and accessibility.
Now that the roadmap is in place, it’s time to build your design system. This could include deciding on the design system team, getting organizational buy-in, access to additional resources, building the color palette, implementing an icons library, establishing design system governance, and so on.
Your design team must test components to ensure they meet the usability and accessibility standards. You can also create high-fidelity prototypes that look and function like the final product.
7. Maintain and evolve your design system
As your product keeps on evolving, so should your design system. You must also revise your roadmap once every quarter or six months to keep up with the changes and let your organization and stakeholders stay updated.
A design system roadmap serves many purposes like helping you monitor progress, measure the ROI of each release, improve collaboration and build accountability across team, help plan product releases and so much more.
It has the potential to change the way your design team operates and make it all the more better.
So, what are you waiting for? This is your hint to start working on your design system roadmap.