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Simply put, a design system is a software product 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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?
If you write emails like that, you’re already our favorite. We can’t wait to hear from you.
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.
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.