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OpenText Design System

Building and maintain a design system from the ground up to connect globally distributed teams, consisting of 1000+ engineers and 100+ designers, with a common design language and a single source of the truth.

Role

Design lead

UX and Visual Design

DesignOps

Education and advocacy

Team

2 Lead UX

2 Senior UX designers

1 Senior Director

2 co-op students (4 month work terms)

Scope: Quarterly roadmapped. Continuous since 2016

 

Concerns: Devaluing the design process, limiting creativity, stifling designers. 

As with most design systems we have a variety of concerns that we try and manage day-to-day; workload vs resourcing, covering accessibility requirements and ensuring that each pattern and design we create meets international standards, advocacy and education on how to use our system and usability of the system itself.  

Risk: Short staff and no time.
The reach of our design system is large, but we're a small team managing and maintaining it. The continuous risk is that we jeopardize product success by moving either too quickly or too slowly. We mitigate risk by being open, transparent and receptive of feedback. We host a variety of weekly standing calls with designers, developers, accessibility experts and product managers across the company. 

Process: We meet weekly with interaction and visual designers to discuss new patterns and designs and gain feedback on use cases for each of our products. We also maintain weekly standing calls with stakeholder teams, the major development consumers of our design system. We identify the scope for each quarter based of a combination of stakeholder needs and aligning with their roadmaps and prioritization of our own component update needs.  

Outcome: From where we started to where we are today we've had tremendous success. Before our design system was created visual and interaction designs supported individual products with no common source of the truth or centralized location for guidance. We now support 100+ products across 12 business units. Our guideline homepage gets 500 hits a day internally. Our Design System is constantly evolving and it needs to, as the company grows and evolves we need to grow and evolve how we support product teams. 

Retrospective: We ran a comprehensive user survey in 2021 that gathered feedback on our design system from 163 users, in 8 countries across 20 different job roles. This survey highlighted areas for us to improve on in the future: site navigation, transparency on timelines and roadmaps and a cleaner presentation for information were the major takeaways. We continue to make incremental changes to our process to adapt to this feedback.

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Iconography

All of our iconography is created in-house by individual product designers and then submitted to the design system team for QA and inclusion in our common repository. Having clear guidelines on styles and colour usage reduces the amount of revisions required on assets and ensures a consistent experience across our offerings. 

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Our design system contains both interaction patterns and visual styling for each element, including all states and is also provided as HTML markup. Providing such a comprehensive resource allows the greatest support for development teams across the company, whether teams are developing components from scratch, are using Common Code or are maintaining legacy products, we try and meet all their needs. 

Colors

Thoughtfully organized colour palettes keep designers on brand and aligned on their color usage. By centralizing colours through our Figma component library migrating designs as our brand evolves is much easier than it has been in the past. 

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Responsive

All our components and corresponding patterns are written with responsiveness in mind.

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Our primary web component library was built out before Component Props were introduced in Figma, which means a lot of variants. As Figma evolves we strategically migrate our library to best serve the designers using it. We are currently rebuilding all our components to use the latest Figma features. 

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