⚒️ Sketch as a key tool for developing a Design System

Given the fact, there’s no right or wrong way to use Sketch to develop a design system, is always precious to look at what designers do to evangelize the consistency and the efficiency of the design operations.

Sketch Meetup Zürich - Design System for corporate organisations

Sketch as the key tool for developing a Design System. On Tuesday 28th of April, the Sketch Meetup Zürich hosted a session with Matteo Gratton VP experience at Barclays. Matteo walked us through his workflow based on Sketch. He showed us the whole process he and his team relies on to deliver a unique source of truth for building successful digital experiences.

Here’s a couple of questions Matteo replied during the session and we thought was worth to flesh them out in more detail:

What are the “must-have” a plugin needs in order to be included in your workflow?
I think that a plugin must rely on the core tool features: it should not touch them in any way. I wouldn’t name any of those plugins (you can easily think at some of them, as they’re quite famous).
What a plugin must-do for me is to ease my workflow. Maybe with a combination of few plugins, you can save hours of work and the pain to redo the same action many times. I’d like to mention here some of them I’m used to using every day managing libraries, as the topic of our Meetup (Design Systems) is heavily based over them:

  • Automate by Ashung Hung. This is a massive plugin with a huge amount of features. What I use more often is the Layer arrangement options to reorder layers based on the position, the Guide management options to copy and paste easily guides between Artboards. You can dig into the options, as there are options for more or less any use.
  • Free Flow by Francesco Bertocci. It is a plugin that’s daily evolving that creates magic with the overrides for me. As Automate, this plugin has many options as well.
  • I often use the combination of Select Similar Layers by Wessley Roche along with Rename It by Rodrigo Soares to reorganise and rename in just a few steps a huge number of layers.
  • Symbol Organiser by Jason Burns. It is my choice to have the symbol pages well organised, ordered and readable.

    There are a few other plugins I’m used to using, but in order to manage my work with a Design System, those are the day by day used.

    I want to mention here also that’s possible to develop your own plugin. If you’re managing a Design System for a big company you likely want to be able to speed up the teammates day to day work: To develop a plugin could be an easy solution in order to deliver consistency and an easy approach to a complex system.

You mentioned several times your will to convince people to stick to the UI/UX guidelines available in the Design System. How do you evangelize this message?
This is probably one of the main goals of any Design Ops and Design System manager. To me, the most effective way to evangelize the proper use of a Design System is to make people aware of its complexities and to be part of the development of the system itself.
My answer would be something that’s a bit far from the Design System itself then: to work hard to create a community around it. Before it. Within it. A system will help to create a shared language, a shared knowledge, even a shared experience along with different teams (Design, Development, Product at least). My starting point is to make it happen that those people would like to meet and create something together.
Within the Sketch libraries (it actually does not depend on the tool, as this is valid for any shared library, component, code), I think that the main reason that would help people to stick on the Design System itself is the visible maintenance of it. If a new feature is released in your tool, you have to review the components that would have a benefit from it. If a new way to manage your code lands, you have to review it accordingly. The people that would use your Design System as a service needs to have it up to date in order to use it. Otherwise, they’ll fork it and edit it.
Remember: a Design System is a living entity. It does not stop to evolve. It does not have an endpoint (rather if you dismiss it for something else). It deserves to be developed and needs care!

The Sketch Meetup Zürich will shortly come with other interesting sessions on how to design successful digital experiences with Sketch

If you are a Sketch enthusiast or you want to know more about it just hit the “subscribe” button on the Meetup page and stay tuned!

If you fancy want to ask more questions to Matteo, just leave a comment at the end of this post and he will reach out to you!

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