Your design team is growing. Fast. Everyone is moving in different directions. Nobody is using the same design tool. Nobody is using the same icon file. They’re not even using the same hex codes. It’s the Wild West out here. And everyone is wearing Warby Parkers.
Maybe this sounds familiar to you. If it doesn’t, it might soon. As we know at Gusto, growing design teams are really hard to keep in sync. You know what they say… mo’ pixels, mo’ problems.
Every design team knows they need design principles, but making them useful is really hard to do. So they often end up like that old iPhone that you refuse to throw out because maybe you’ll use it as an iPod someday, or maybe your mom will need it or something. The days pass and it remains useless, just taking up space.
Well, you know what? It doesn’t have to be that way. I’m going to show you how to make design principles with lasting power.
Every design team knows they need design principles, but making them useful is really hard to do.
Gusto: please report to the “principle’s” office
Here at Gusto — where we make modern human resource software for small businesses — designers are aligned to a specific product area. It makes sense for the most part, but this team structure got us into an inconsistency pickle: When you multiply silos by a nascent design system, a ton of tools, an influx of new teammates, and a rapidly expanding set of use cases, you’ve got yourself a problem.
Discrepancies in design implementation result from the lack of a shared gold standard. Without a common understanding of what made great design at Gusto, everyone was left to define their own version of great. Which led to a wide variety of layouts and interaction patterns and visual treatments that were… yeah. Not great.
So how might we take a step in the right direction? We set out to create a shared gold standard and codify design principles that embody the core vision and values of Gusto.