Measuring Design System Value
Challenges are categorized as: grassroots origins, reliable and consistent data, measuring the interconnections and intangibles.
A component library is the set of parts — the Buttons, Cards, Tables, etc. A system is what connects those pieces, and defines how they work together to create a cohesive user experience.
Lego bricks are often used as a metaphor for design systems, as a familiar set of building blocks that can be assembled in near-infinite ways. While this is an accurate comparison to a standalone component library, the most important aspect of Lego is not so much the bricks themselves, but the system of tubes and stubs that holds them together.
New bricks have been added to the system over the years, yet a brick manufactured today will still connect with one of the first produced in 1958.
By framing the benefits of a design system in terms of outcomes, and how those outcomes will add value to the business, the story of why a design system needs ongoing investment becomes much more compelling than simply tracking the number of new components produced.