Tinned Fruit Missives May 2017
Systems, systems, systems. Design systems everywhere. As more and more organisations publish their own design systems, it appears that web design has entered a more stable, consolidatory phase. Since responsive design and the mobile revolution, there haven’t been any great innovations that fundamentally change the way we design. Companies are evolving their design practices instead. Even smaller companies with a single product and a single team look to design systems as a way to speed up and focus design and product development.
I find the trend interesting, not just because it’s a sign of industry maturity, but because it is weirdly satisfying to work on something at this more abstract level. Instead of thinking about the specific customer problem we’re trying to help with, we’re pulling out common information and interaction patterns and making them into concrete re-usable assets. It scratches the same part of my brain as refactoring.
All the best,
Lessons Learned Scaling Design Teams - Aaron Walter
Everything that Aaron describes here about product and design in growing product companies applies equally to product engineering. Products and companies go through a series of stages where a different approach is needed. A company just starting out will need adaptable generalists who can pitch in on different types of customer need. But as the company grows, there is a shift towards product consolidation, and more specialists are needed. I believe the hardest part of this is staying aware of what’s going to be needed in 6 months or a year from now.
Designing a Systems Team - Nathan Curtis
On the same theme of organisational growth, Nathan Curtis describes possible structures for design systems teams in different circumstances. The description of how cross-team design platform activity emerges in a growing company is spot on. This could be a dry subject, but there are pretty diagrams to help :-). This post is a great place to start if your company has tried and failed to build a UI library or style guide, only to see poor adoption.
CSS is Not Broken - Keith J. Grant
There’s been a bucket of hype around styled components recently. As usual, it’s easy to get swept up by the possibility that we have found a new, better solution to the challenges of CSS-at-scale. Here, Keith makes the point that CSS, like other languages, demands skill and expertise to wield effectively. Blaming the language for a poorly structured code base wouldn’t fly for other languages, so why is it OK for CSS?
TypeScript at Slack - Felix Rieseberg
Some other World Wide Web hyperlinks I have enjoyed this month
- A visual introduction to machine learning
- Think you know the top web browsers?
- Managing Technology-Agnostic Design Systems
- Better Code Reviews Through Empathy
- Device intervention
- A design system. A year in review - Experiences of building up Skyscanner’s design system, Backpack.
- Design Systems Sprint 0: The Silver Bullet of Product Development
- RealWorld - Exemplary fullstack Medium.com clone powered by various front-end and back-end stacks
Tinned Fruit Missives is a monthly newsletter published by Jim Newbery, a front-end engineering consultant from Edinburgh in Scotland.
I help growing web product companies with their front-end development strategy. Let’s talk!