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Maturing the CMS Design System
Scott Weber, Reading time: about 8 min

Before we get into the details on the CMS design system I want to set a baseline of what a design system is and is not. 

What is a design system?

The general definition of a design system is that it’s the outer circle that contains pattern libraries, style guides, and any other artifacts used to build web experiences and it’s also much more than that. Just because you have a collection of design patterns doesn’t mean you have a design system. 

A design system is a collection of reusable components both in design and in code, guided by clear documentation and standards, that can be assembled together to build web experiences and can be easily updated within products. 

Nielsen Norman Group defines a design system as “a set of standards to manage design at scale by reducing redundancy while creating a shared language and visual consistency across different pages and channels.” 

Brad Frost defines a design system as “The official story of how an organization designs and builds digital interfaces.”

What a design system is not

A design system is a collection of multiple elements such as pattern libraries, style guides and UI toolkits and more. Only having one singular element does not mean you have a design system. If you have a Sketch or Figma file but don’t have any code examples or patterns you don’t have a design system. If you have code examples but no design artifacts you don’t have a design system. 

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