Every Design System should be different. That’s ok.

Dave House
2 min readFeb 1, 2022


The 622 page FA handbook, what could be called the “Laws of the game” outlines every single rule that needs to be observed by clubs and individuals to take part in a professional game of football.

These rules are adapted and enforced to different levels by officials and players as needed.

Sunday League, playing 5-a-side with mates or jumpers for goalposts at school. They all use the same framework of the game, but only a subset of rules are appropriate in each setting.

After spending almost all my time in Design System teams for the last 6 years I believe there is no correct way to make a design system.

Of course there are tried and tested methods and accepted good practices for design, content and code. However I have come to believe almost every major decision you make is entirely relative to the organisation and people you’re making it for.

Some of my biggest mistakes in this space have been trying to force something suitable for one organisation into another.

Some of these things might be:

  • how strict it should be
  • how modular to make the components
  • what the contribution requirements and processes look like
  • what level of parity needs to exist between design and development
  • what technical architecture to go for
  • how to version the system

And these depend on

  • what platforms it need to support
  • what areas of the business it needs to support
  • how design mature the org is
  • how much financial investment there has been in the team
  • how technically diverse the org is
  • how big the potential user base is
  • if the development is primarily done in house or with external suppliers
  • if it needs to support multiple brands
  • If so, how much brand differentiation there need to be

All of these combinations add up to a truly unique solution.

Some organisations need a design system to define something down to the minimum size of the number on the back of players shirts. Some just need to know that you need to kick the ball into the opposing teams goal as much as possible.