Do design systems limit creativity?

You don't need to sacrifice creativity when developing a design system. Learn Dan Mall's 80/20 approach for encouraging creativity and innovation within a design system.

3 min read

January 24, 2023

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Even with all the amazing benefits that design systems provide, many designers still view them as restricting. Design systems need to be comprehensive and work with existing structures, which can feel creatively limiting when you're also considering user experience and brand identity. The good news is that with careful thought and skillful planning, you can still incorporate creativity into your design system without sacrificing usability or cohesiveness.

With over a decade of experience developing design systems for world-renowned brands like United Airlines, ExxonMobil, Nike, and Eventbrite, Dan Mall is considered a product design pioneer whose expertise has been imparted at conferences, private client engagements, higher education, and more.

Watch Dan's top tip for inspiring creativity within your design system using the 80/20 approach.

The 80/20 approach

Dan Mall: Do design systems stifle creativity? Absolutely not. A good design system should actually encourage creativity. A helpful target to shoot for as a designer is to build roughly 80% of your interface using the components in your design system. As for the remaining 20%, leave that space open to do something new, creative, and unique. Otherwise, there will be nothing to contribute back to the design system later.

Dive deeper into creativity and design systems in Dribbble & Dan Mall's upcoming Scaling Design Systems course. Upgrade your design career in just 8 weeks with flexible learning, design systems mentorship, and hiring connections on Dribbble.

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