February 21, 2024
UI/UX Resources
12 MIN READ

What is a Design System? Examples of Best Design Systems

In this article, you will learn all about design systems: what they are, why they are important, who can use them, and the best design systems.
By
Cristi Fonea
February 21, 2024
What is a Design System? Examples of Best Design Systems

Have you ever wondered how you can design faster? Better? More efficiently? Maybe even more creatively? These questions have one answer: a design system.

A design system is a library of pre-made, pre-designed, and ready-to-use UI components and guidelines that can be reused to build unlimited applications or website designs. 

Millions and millions of applications and websites are created every year, each with hundreds of pages and individual UI components and design elements. So, in a world where we’re all looking for shortcuts and tips on designing faster and better, having a well-structured Figma design system or even a UI Kit at your fingertips might become your secret weapon. 

If you want to start using Figma design systems to your advantage, we’ve got you! We’ll cover everything you need to know about what is a design system, the elements of a design system and the benefits of design systems. Even more so, we’ve curated a list with the absolute best Figma resources and Figma design systems that you can use. 

What Is A Design System?

Design systems are a library of pre-made, pre-designed, and ready-to-use UI components and guidelines that can be reused to build unlimited applications or websites. 

Our uinkits design system offers various building UI elements like variables, patterns, styles, and multiple UI components. These elements can be changed according to your needs and your brand identity. The uinkits design system also includes documentation with rules and guides that can help you in your design process. 

A design system allows you to create beautifully designed apps and websites and helps you build something that responds to real needs – all with just a few clicks. 

Our uinkits design system is more than a Figma Library of components and assets. And it’s more than a Pattern Library and a Style Guide. Yes, it’s a combination of all of these. But it’s much more than that. It contains everything you need to create the perfect design with a unique visual language:

  • Standard UI Components – like icons, tabs, toggles, buttons, etc.
  • Variables and Global Styles – like color palettes, illustrations, typography, etc.
  • Page Design Examples – with flexible grid systems
  • Component Proprieties
  • Icon Library
  • Code Snippets 
  • Design Guidelines (Documentation) – that explains how and when to use specific components
  • Visual Guidelines – with style rules, design patterns, and other design principles

A design system allows UI/UX designers to focus more on how the app or website works to appeal to their users’ needs and less on building a new visual design feature – because they already have everything they need. And they can even add specific features to their digital platform that they didn’t think of before. 

Whether you need a front page design for project drafts, a hero dashboard, or a sign up page design, a Figma design system will help kickstart your project faster and more efficiently. What would have taken us 5 hours to create now takes us 15 minutes (and much less stress). The time that was once dedicated to designing a single project can now be spent developing not just one but five projects. And even on spending more time with potential clients and learning their needs. 

Who Can Use a Design System?

Everyone – the purpose of a great design system is that it can easily be adopted by you, your team, and everyone else – not just UI/UX designer experts. This way, you can launch 2-3x times faster when working with the uinkits design system or UI kits for websites, apps, or dashboards. With a design system, everyone is a designer. 

And that’s not all! Since a design system also includes code snippets and other directions on code, a design system can also be used by developers and engineers in the development process. 

UI/UX design has evolved – there’s no denying that. And so has the way we design. More and more UI/UX designers are adopting design systems in their design process. In fact, design systems have become an essential part of big companies like Apple, Airbnb, and Google. All of these big companies have understood the importance, maybe even necessity, of having a great design system. In 2020, Forrester discovered that 65% of the companies surveyed used a design system for their apps.

Design System Elements

  1. UI Component Library

A component library is also known as a UI Kit. As the name suggests, it includes user interface design components that can be reused in other projects – whether a mobile app design or a website design. These components have been previously designed and can be easily customized in various future projects. Our uinkits design library includes all the UI components necessary to build a platform from scratch. 

The main components of a UI Kit are: 

  1. Style Guide and Variables

The style represents our company’s branding. The colors we use, the fonts and the sizes, the logo placements, and everything else that governs our company’s look and feel. But how does it work in a design system?

Well, let’s say the primary color you have chosen for your style doesn’t fit in with the rest of the design, so you decide to change the color to a more suitable one. But you don’t have to worry about updating the color in every section. With a design system, the color you have chosen for your style will automatically be applied to the whole design. So, make sure that the Figma resources that you’re using help you streamline this step in the design process as well.

  1. Pattern Library

Think of components as puzzle pieces that combine in specific combinations to provide both an intuitive user interface and a consistent user experience. These combinations are what we call patterns – innovative and standardized solutions to recurring design problems. 

Think about the Hero dashboard banner. With a design system, you don’t have to redesign it whenever you want to include a Hero dashboard banner. You already have a set of rules for this element – the dimensions, the placement of text, and the call-to-action button. This is the same for the front page design for project drafts or a sign up page design and everything else you need to build a product design. A Figma design that includes a pattern library will help you create a more personalized (and stylish) UI UX design. 

  1. Documentation

What makes a design system is the implementation of documentation – or guidelines. Yes, design systems can help us speed up the process by using pre-designed components in our designs. But we’ll find explanations for every design decision in a design system. It's all right there, from the color palette, the padding of a button, and the component choices. It’s not just a “do’s” and “don’t” list. The “whys” and the “hows” make our UI/UX designs good. 

How are Design Systems Used?

Let’s say you need to use a navigation rail on your website. To create this component, you would need to think about the following aspects:

  • The behavior of the UI component;
  • The spacing and sizing of the UI component;
  • The necessary elements of the UI component;
  • The visual design of the UI component – colors, Figma icons, cool fonts, etc.
  • The scrolling behavior of the component;
  • The types of icons and how they are used within the component;
  • The responsiveness of the component;

These are all the questions and factors you should consider when designing your navigation rail. But with our uinkits design system, the resources are already designed, and the designer who created it has already thought of these aspects. This way, you skip the process of building the necessary components for your platform. You just take your component and apply it to your design. 

At the same time, when the UI UX designer or product designer needs to change the entire design, they can easily apply a specific variable, and you’re good to go! Let’s say you want to create a new mobile app using pages from a previous design. But you need to change the color scheme with the new brand identity. The uinkits variables will automatically replace the existing colors with the ones you need.

The uinkits design system uses Figma to its full potential with its more advanced features, so you don’t have to worry about anything in the design process. With the uinkits design system, all you need is your imagination and your creativity to create your perfect design!

The Benefits of a Design System

We all need a design system if we want to improve our design process. In the end, you will realize the benefits of a design system and that you would have spent so much more without a design system. So, why exactly is that? Why should I use a design system?

  • Speed

Designing (and developing) an app or a website takes time. And time is money. But because we can easily use the pre-made and ready-to-use UI components, it means that we, as UI/UX designers, don’t have to start from scratch each time. With a Figma design system, we can simply update components across our design with a few changes according to our needs, and we’re good to go. 

Whether you want to change the color of a tooltip or include other cool fonts, a design system will immediately help you make these changes. So, what would have taken us 5 hours to create takes us 15 minutes (and a lot less stress). The time that was once dedicated to designing a single project can now be spent in designing not just one but five projects. 

  • Efficiency

“Employees spend 1.8 hours every day searching for and acquiring information.”

According to this McKinsey report, for a 5-day work week, 9 hours are spent simply searching for and gathering information. This means that if we work for a week, then in 4 days, we put in the actual work, while a day is spent searching for answers, but you don’t contribute anything.

But with our uinkits design system, we automatically eliminate this wasted time. Creating a component takes time – not only for designing but also for research and feedback. However, clearer guidelines mean less research and fewer rounds of feedback, which means fewer revisions. With a design system, it also means fewer risks of error. 

We already established that it allows us to focus on more significant problems. However, since design systems allow everyone to participate in the design process, we can delegate specific tasks even to those who are not experts. So, we don’t need to pay a senior UI/UX designer a bunch of money. We can do everything faster, with fewer resources, and more efficiently! In this situation, we do more with less!

  • Brand Consistency

When multiple people are working on a project, it might be quite challenging to deliver a consistent brand experience. As UI/UX designers, we have different styles and different preferences. However, a design system can cover those details that we often overlook when designing individual components. But they become extremely obvious when looking at the whole design. 

This is all about eliminating manual adjustments. Now, you don’t have to worry about manually updating each font or color across the entire design manually. The design system will do that for you. This way, every component adheres to the same style, creating a cohesive brand experience. 

  • Collaboration

A design system is a shared language for everyone on our team. It creates a shared vocabulary for all designers (and others participating in the design process) to collaborate and communicate efficiently. No more guesswork, no more lost-in-translation moments, no more misunderstood emails. Everyone is on the same page, and everyone is working towards the same goal without letting frustration fester. 

Plus, let’s not forget about how beneficial it becomes when it comes to training new employees or teaching junior-level designers. With clear guidelines and documentation, the design system is a comprehensive roadmap. 

How Much Time Can We Actually Save By Using Design Systems?

In 2019, Figma carried out an exciting experiment on different designers. This showed that designers who used a design system completed their work 34% faster than the ones who did not use one. 

But that’s not only from a design point of view. We can also look at it from a tech perspective. According to a study published by ZeroHeight, design systems can save up to 37% of development time. That is quite a lot of time saved up just by adopting a design system for your app! 

This is why we have launched the uinkits design system with pre-made, pre-designed, and ready-to-use UI components. What would have taken us 5 hours to create now takes us 15 minutes (and much less stress). The time that was once dedicated to designing a single project can now be spent developing not just one but five projects. And even on spending more time with potential clients and learning their needs. 

Best Figma Design Systems

uinkits Design System Website
  1. uinkits Design System and UI Kits

uinkits is a complete design system with UI components that allows you, as a UI UX designer, to create your products as quickly as pressing a button. The uinkits design system includes variables, a component library, a pattern library, and visual elements, including colors and icons. 

Its UI components, variables, icons, and everything you need for your design is already ready, responsive, prototyped, and ready for usability testing. All you have to do is take your needed UI design component, and you’re ready to use it in your designs!

But the uinkits design system doesn’t just provide you with a banner, for example. Instead, it explains when it’s best to use this banner in your UI/UX design and what you might want to add. Each part of the design system provides documentation for using a certain component and why. With this design system, your work will become much easier as you will be able to create faster with the help of elements such as color palettes, dashboards, cheats, cards, and all you need in order to design. 

The uinkits Design System includes:

  • 23,000+ Components and Variants
  • 1,000+ Global Styles and Variables
  • 320+ UI Kits for Apps, Websites, and Dashboard Design
  • 5,200+ Icons and Logos
  • Responsive Behavior and Auto Layout
  • Made for Figma for Figma Designers

uinkits.com – Download the free version or get the uinkits PRO for $119 USD.

Material UI Design System Website
  1. Material UI

Material UI is another design system available to save the day. This design system was created by Google, and its purpose is to help teams create high-quality UX designs for users in shorter periods. The UI components available can help you design smoother navigation and have better integrations as well as input and display. 

Google’s Design System is great both for UI UX designers and developers as their UI components also come with a code ready to be implemented. Google’s Design System includes:

  • React Themes and Templates
  • UI Kits for Apps, Websites, and Dashboard Design
  • Design System available for Figma, Adobe XD, and Sketch
  • Advanced React UI Components

mui.com – Get your design system package or your React template here!

UI Prep Design System Website
  1. UI Prep

Next, we have UI Prep’s Design System available on and for Figma. This design system gives you the ability to immediately swap instances and the capability to use grid layouts while designing. The system design gives you the ability to create UI designs from your app and websites. All while complying with the UI/UX design principles. The UI kit also provides a series of Figma courses where you can strengthen your knowledge.

UI Prep’s Design System includes the following:

  • Fully Tokenized with Variables
  • UI Components
  • Made for Students, Designers, Agencies and Teams

uiprep.com Download the free version or get the pro version for $99 USD.

Polaris Design System Website
  1. Polaris

Polaris Design System is created by Shopify. This design system has the purpose of tailoring the user experience for everyone and helping the user make a better decision. It includes various design resources making it perfect for UI UX designers, but it also includes development and react resources that are amazing for developers. Even more so, Polaris also offers a course where you will build a starter app using design and development tools using Shopify. 

Polaris design system includes:

  • UI Kits and UI Components
  • Icon Library
  • Styles Library, Variables, and Tokens
  • React Components
  • VS Code Extensions

Learn more about the Polaris Design System.

Apple's Design System Website
  1. Apple’s Design System

Another design system is the one provided by Apple, offering components, elements, and in-depth information for designing apps and websites. Apple can also help you get started in the design process or UI UX journey, as it has a series of introductory tutorials on how to create the best design and user experience. Some of the major topics discussed in the courses were the spatial layout, share play, and icons.

Apple’s design system includes:

  • Available for Sketch, Adobe XD, Figma 
  • Templates, UI Components, and other Design Resources
  • For iOS 16 and iOS 17
  • User-Centered Design Principles
  • Great for Creating Apps and Games

Learn more about Apple’s Design System.

Here are more examples of design systems:

What Is a UI Kit?

A UI Kit can be in the form of an App Kit, a Website Kit, or even a Dashboard Kit. These UI Kits are composed of a large compilation of reusable elements, templates, styles, and other resources you might require to develop your product. These design resources have become even more popular, with more and more people starting to use Figma when building their products. 

So, if you are looking to map all the elements you need when creating an app or a website, you can use a UI kit that will save you time and lead to higher productivity levels. In a UI kit, you will encounter buttons to design elements like images, graphics, and templates. The best part about UI kits is that they are responsive and organized, so you’ll be able to find everything you need quickly. This brings us to your advantages when using a UI kit.

If you want to read more about UI Kits and find out the best UI Kits available, check out our article about what is a UI Kit

The Difference Between a Design System and UI Kit

Compared to design systems, UI kits are more like a supermarket where you go when you’re looking for individual ingredients for your design. The difference between a UI kit and a design system is that a design system does not only include the ingredients but also provides you with the entire cookbook – the design guidelines. A UI kit is basically a component library that can contain every element you need in order to create a design. 

Imagine the difference between a design system and a UI kit. Let’s say you want to make a pie. Well, in order for you to make a pie, you need to follow a specific recipe or maybe a set of rules. Otherwise, you will just end up with a pie that has no taste. After seeing the steps, you need to go to the store where you will find all the indigents you need or the elements for your design. 

Well, a design system takes care of you through the whole process, as it has all the guidelines you need when creating a new design. On the other hand, a UI kit is the store where you find the ingredients or elements required to create your design. 

A design system creates productivity and efficiency by developing elements that can be personalized and used by a UI UX designer or by everyone from a team. It creates accessible libraries that can store assets and be later used or integrated into a design. Design systems allow you to create a website or an app from scratch, only needing your personal touch when it comes to customizing your existing elements. 

uinkits – Our Figma UI Kit

Design systems are here to simplify our lives and help us create the best UI and UX designs. We have something to learn from each and every one of them, so maybe it’s time you give the design system a try. You may think you need more designers or more time to finish your design, but you probably just need a good design system. 

We at uinkits understand the importance of great user experiences in creating amazing UI designs. That’s why we’ve developed a Figma UI Kit with design components that include the essential UI elements that enable you to design intuitive and user-friendly interfaces effortlessly.  

“You press the button, we do the rest,” – Kodak.

Inspired by this iconic tagline from Kodak, we believe in simplifying the design process for you. Our Figma UI Kit, uinkits, is a complete design system with UI components that allows you, as a UI UX designer, to create your products as quickly as pressing a button. 

Our design system components include variables, cards, buttons, and everything you need for your design process. All you have to do is take your UI design component, and you’re ready to use it in your designs!

With the uinkits design system, all you need is your imagination and your creativity to create your perfect design!

By
Cristi Fonea
February 21, 2024

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