Why does it feel like the devices we use are getting slower over time? A smartphone I bought a few years ago seems to be losing its edge when browsing websites. My computer struggles to play audio. Even my car’s interface can’t keep up anymore after all the updates. Am I just imagining or were they always like this?
No, these devices aren’t actually getting slower, it’s the software that is getting more bloated. Whenever new hardware is released out in the wild, it takes only a few months until it becomes the benchmark for software developers. Because hell, why not. We have all these resources to utilize, why wouldn’t we. Why give a fuck about the needs of users.
If you’ve observed this too, it’s not just your imagination. Software is becoming increasingly complex and requires more resources than ever before. As CPU power increases, software is expanded to consume that extra performance. We live in the era of disposability.
When we started working on Duet Design System early last year, one of our goals was to create similar component playgrounds as I had previously built for Vue Design System. While this seemed like an obvious decision at first, we soon realized that maintaining a code editor of our own required far too much effort, especially since Duet’s documentation is a custom built platform created for a specific organization’s needs.
CodePen lets you start a new Pen with code and settings that you send across programmatically. It also includes a range of options to customize the editor.
We figured there must be a simpler approach. Maybe all of it didn’t have to be a part of the documentation itself. The most important goal was to have a code playground which would enable quick prototyping and testing.
This got us thinking. We were already using CodePen when we needed to quickly prototype or design something in the browser. Could we utilize the same tool for the public website as well to make the component documentation more interactive?
It’s August, 2018. I’m at the office, sitting by the window staring rain pouring down from the sky. A warm cup of tea in my hand, about to sip it, but the phone suddenly rings. I don’t recognize the number. I hesitate for a moment whether to pick it up or not. Maybe it’s again a telemarketer trying to sell me something?
Thinking of this particular autumn evening today, a year and a half later, I’m delighted I picked up the phone. This one phone call ended up having a major impact, as the end result was the biggest personal project I have worked on so far.
A few months went by after our first call. I went to see the client during a couple of occasions to plan the possible collaboration. After some back and forth negotiation we ultimately started working together in the beginning of January, 2019.
Ever read an article praising design systems and how they magically solve design and frontend challenges? I’ve sure seen this being repeated in one form or another. Maybe not with these exact exaggerated words, but the underlying message has been close. While there might be a spark of truth there somewhere, it can be quite misleading to make this kind of statements without explaining what’s really required.
You can’t just hire an agency to create a design system for your organization and expect that the system alone will solve something.
You might’ve seen or been on the other side as well, where organizations invest large sums of money to hire external agencies to create design systems for them. These agencies often work completely detached in their own silos and only claim to blend into the client’s organization. While this is a good business model for the agencies selling and creating these systems, it rarely works out for the client organization.
Real life example of this behaviour: a manager at Organization Y hears about design systems and how they solved the challenges of Organization X. They want to get on the bandwagon as well. Agency Z sees this as a money making opportunity and sells them a team of designers and developers who will design and build the system for Organization Y. The starting price is over one million US dollars.
Vue Design System is a set of organized tools, patterns, and practices that work as the foundation for Vue.js application development. What initially started as a quick-n-dirty prototyping tool for a client of mine, has grown into a fully capable systems tool that provides an environment where the pattern library and live application can be perfectly in sync.
What initially started as a prototyping tool, has grown into a fully capable systems tool that provides an environment where the pattern library and live application can be perfectly in sync.
For me personally, Vue Design System has become as much of a design systems teaching and learning platform, as it is a tool that’s capable of growing from a prototype to a fully fleshed-out system that multiple applications can depend on.
In this article, I will shed some light to the processes and workflow I use to get started with a new design system project. An article, I would’ve wanted to come across when first starting with design systems and trying to figure out the best approaches. While I’ve written this from Vue Design System’s perspective, the concepts and processes I introduce here will work with any tool.
I’m happy. I’ve been succesfully running my design studio for the past 8 months and recently moved into a new office space. Since then I’ve been setting up the workspace to suit the way I want to work and create things. This dedicated quiet space gives me the luxury to focus and get much more done than I could get anywhere else before.
A dedicated quiet space gives me the luxury to focus and get much more done than I could get anywhere else before.
While I find myself constantly switching between different working modes like running a design systems workshop, working at client’s premises, or doing a remote meeting with a team in another city, I like having this personal space where I can come back to think and focus. A space for exploration and tinkering.
My workspace is a part of a bigger office, but with a dedicated room and a door. This is what my setup currently looks like (click for bigger photos):
March, 2017. We were still living in the United States. It was a time of great anxiety for us. Just a couple weeks earlier I had been laid off from my previous job in California, Donald Trump had become the president, and we were suddenly living in this foreign country without valid Visas and no plans for the future whatsoever.
At the same time, in the middle of everything, I had this crazy idea to start up my own design studio when we’re back in Europe.
There we were, about to have a baby, not able to fly back to Europe anymore and trying to figure out what’s going to happen next. The company I used to work for got sold and our previous Visas couldn’t be transferred, which basically got us here. Just a week before all this started, I remember discussing with my wife how I could see us growing old in this country.
For a moment it felt like a bad dream in which we were fugitives living on enemy soil. In some ways, that dream felt real and vivid to us. I mean, it sounds frankly awkward when saying it out loud now, but back then so many things happened at once. I wasn’t even sure if it was legal for us to stay in the country after our Visas expired, so I tried to keep my mouth shut as well as I could. If anyone asked; It was good. It was all going so good.