Arko Sen

Tech Lead, HCL Software

Design Systems, take or make?

18 mins
Design Systems, Research, Methods, and Processes


About The Speaker

Arko has been in the design industry for more than 17 years, he has worked as a freelancer, programmer, designer, UX engineer, UX lead, and Strategist. He has worked for and with Startups, MNCs, and SMBs both as an employee and a consultant.

Currently, he manages a design system for 20+ products in the HCL Software brand as he and his UI/UXCoE team provide strategic guidelines and intervention to 70+ designers across 30+ products.

Design Systems, take or make?

Design Systems are amazing, they streamline, standardize, speed up and generally make the world better for designers and developers. But when it comes to choosing a design system, versus starting from scratch, there is a big gap in understanding and consensus. Most brands beyond a certain size insist on a custom design system, and they should, because their needs are unique. Trouble happens when these custom design systems are born and grow as frankensteinian abominations. And soon there is frustration and budget creep.

This is a talk that lays out a clean procedure to start a new design system. What choices to make, what inspirations to take, what can you outright pick up from open source, etc.

The final message I want to spread is that a custom Design System should not aim to do everything, most design systems start out because they want to do something different, once they grow so big and start bloating trying to cover all the components, all the interactions, and feel that they should be at a competitive level with the big fish, that’s not a prudent choice most of the time.

Key Takeaways


Starting with an existing Design System as a skeleton is perfectly alright.


A new Design System exists because it wishes to do something different,
figure out what that is.


Stop trying to match up to the public design systems, listen to your products

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