Operating Design Systems - 2022



Nov 9, 2022
9:00 am
4:30 pm
Central (UTC-6)
Sheraton New Orleans

Operating an effective design system program is challenging. 

The system must fit smoothly into how an organization makes and delivers digital experiences. Yet, it must also embrace unique and usually more robust processes to deliver high-quality foundations, components, and other features.

In this workshop, we’ll explore the operational topics that matter most: defining a system’s vision, scoping and making features, and communicating with and enabling contributions from a community. We’ll also zoom out strategically on how to position the system, fund a team, and leverage that capacity and attention to create an impact every system craves.

Why Should You Attend

This workshop lays a foundation and challenges you to consider if your system program is robust, flexible, and inclusive enough. We’ll explore the processes that matter most and when to invest in each to build a successful program. Participants will explore many models, imagine new processes, share their own experiences, and inspire each other.

Nathan will guide the group, relying on 15+ years of experience (yes, long before we called ‘em design systems) with design systems including Morningstar, Verizon, Vanguard, Fidelity, Credit Karma, JPMorgan Chase, Atlassian, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Automattic, Hudl, REI, Capital One, Discovery, Dropbox, Target and – in the more distant past – Marriott, Cisco, Yahoo and his favorite original: Sun Microsystems. This exposure seasons his advice that helps participants approach challenges they’ll face every day.

Who Should Attend

Design systems are best as a multidisciplinary pursuit. Therefore, the workshop is aimed at designers, engineers, product owners, managers, and leaders setting up or optimizing how to operate a design system at scale.

Topics assume at least a familiarity with design systems concepts: what they are, what they deliver, who makes and uses them, and why they matter. Materials are relevant to all disciplines planning to engage a community, decide what to build, and promote it once it’s built.

What You’ll Learn

Over the course of a day, we’ll learn about and practice how to:

  • Convey the scope, vision and mission of a system
  • Prioritize and sequence features across a major system release
  • Develop features by a step-by-step process
  • Communicate progress to your community
  • Support adopters who need help, fixes, and new features
  • Establish spaces for contributors to design and code for shared needs
  • Setup, organize and restructure teams maintaining the system
  • Set objectives and measure success

This workshop covers the strategy, people, and processes necessary to make a system operate effectively. On the other hand, this workshop does NOT dig deep into topics of visual style, design tokens, theming, and UI component design. Nathan has a distinct workshop for that – Architecting Design Systems – but those topics are not covered in this session.

Sketch Notes

Operating Design Systems - 2022