We’ll teach your team how to ship product faster and better by making a design system with you.

We’ve done this with and for

Simply put, a design system is a tool to help your organization build digital products more quickly and consistently. There’s certainly more to it than that, but it’s a decent enough starting point. Here’s how we work with teams to bring a design system online and integrate it as part of your workflow.

Week 01

Orientation

We believe that great work comes from close-knit teams that work together seamlessly and bravely. We spend the first week getting to know each other and establishing healthy collaboration habits as a foundation to build on over the following weeks.

Monday
Team Time: setting foundations for trust, camaraderie, vulnerability, and safety
Hello World: practicing exercises for co-creating as early as possible
Tuesday
Backlog Creation: warming up and organizing for the work ahead
Sketching Session: changing team dynamics of who owns what
Wednesday
Hot Potato: practicing passing work back and forth as small and quick as possible
Thursday
Cool Down: take a breather after an intense last few days
Friday
Reflection: lessons learned and next week prep

We helped United Airlines turn a small Sketch UI kit into Atmos, a fully-funded, company-wide, versioned design system with a team of designers and engineers to support it.

Weeks 02–04

Flow

Magic happens when a connected and safe team gets into a state of flow. Here’s a cadence we use for most of our work that makes the most of work that needs to be done individually as well as in a group.

Monday
Review backlog: a collaborative planning session for everyone to know what’s going to happen before it happens
Divide and conquer: each team member takes the tasks they want to explore
Flow time: individual heads down time to focus and be involved fully in the task at hand
Thursday
Show and tell: bringing ideas back to the collective group before going too far
Friday
Cool Down: rest and recovery is a crucial part of any good workout

Week 05

Systematize

Product work is most important because it’s a direct line to creating customer value, but scaling good product work for future benefit needs intention. We spend 1 week out of every 4 to extract and abstract the great work being done so that others can make use of it too. After that, it’s back to week 2 to begin the cycle anew.

Monday
Audit: a group exercise to look at what’s been created to see what is applicable for other teams
Abstract: re-contextualizing and refactoring components for broader use
Wednesday
Nesting: preparing the system environment for new components
Thursday
Document: capturing all relevant info for the next person
Friday
Sing: figure out how people find out about this new change
Cool Down: rest and recovery is a crucial part of any good workout

We helped this Fortune 2 company scale the work of their one designer—hi Chris!—into Unity, an enterprise-wide, tech-agnostic design system to serve 500 in-house developers.

Team Structure

The best version of this kind of co-creation work is that we’re directing a cross-disciplinary team from your organization. For a multi-platform design system, that generally looks like:

We ask for at least 15 hours of availability per week from each team member. Also, these don’t have to be separate people; one team member may fulfill multiple roles, and, in fact, that’s encouraged! The less amount of people that can do all of these jobs, the better.

If you don’t yet have these roles on the team—most of our clients plan to but are still in the process of hiring for them—we’ll fill in the gaps on our side and help you recruit and hire to replace us. Many of our projects start with us being the design system team and finish with in-house replacements for any of the SuperFriends we’ve brought on.

Ready to work with us?

If everything we’ve described above sounds like just what your team has been looking for, we’d love to work with you! Drop us a line at inquiries@superfriend.ly and let us know what’s on your mind.

Need a starting point for your message? Here’s the kind of email that gets us all giddy. Feel free to copy this as a starting point and modify at your leisure.

To
inquiries@superfriend.ly
Subject
[Nike] would love to co-create a design system with SuperFriendly!

Hi SuperFriends!

My name is [Lindsay Fünke], and I’m a product manager at [Nike]. I love the work you did with [The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas]. I’d love to hire you to help us with a design system project.

We’ve been tossing around the idea of [making/evolving] a design system so we can [make our ecommerce site and native mobile apps more consistent]. When I asked around, my friend [Bob Loblaw] recommended I get in touch with you.

We’d like to launch it by [the end of the year] in order to [coincide with the public launch of our rebrand]; let us know if you think that’s reasonable. We’re looking to partner with a team that [can take this all the way from conception to launch]. You’d be working directly with me and two developers on my team, so we could move pretty quickly. We’d like to keep the price to about [$250k, though we could probably go up to $300k if you could make a good case as to why we’d need the extra].

Full disclosure: I’m talking to 2 other agencies about this work: [Blendin Design] and [Sitwell Enterprises].

I’m happy to provide any other detail you need. If you’re interested, let’s set up a time to chat. How does next week look for you?

Thanks,
Lindsay

If you write emails like that, you’re already our favorite. We can’t wait to hear from you.

For Procurement & Legal Teams

To get a headstart on onboarding us, here are our standard Services Agreement and Statement of Work templates so you can see the kinds of terms we like working under. We’re not fans of playing negotiation games as it’s a distraction and obstruction to the getting underway on the important work of creating customer value, so we strive to strike an agreement that is fair and just for both you and us. Our best partnerships are ones where we and our clients share the risk 50/50.

Not ready to work with us yet?

That’s ok! We want all of our clients to feel 100% confident that we’ll be worth every penny before they hire us. Until you feel that way, here are a few lower commitment ways to see what we bring to the table.

Want an expert opinion on your design system? Our Design System Diagnostic scores your design system against 8 different categories and recommends a prioritized roadmap for improvement.
Learn the ins and outs of design systems with our 2-hour long video course, “Make Design Systems People Want to Use.” Corporate licenses are available too.
Just need a little guidance for you to be off to the design system races? Schedule an hour-long Ask Me Anything session with a few of our SuperFriends to get some pointers in the right direction.