What Are Website Design Systems & Why Do They Matter?

Good question!

Simply put, a website design system is a strategic approach to having your most important online marketing tool look professional, branded and cohesive.

Think of a traditional brand guide but specifically geared towards your website design and user experience. A robust and well thought out website design system is a set of standards designers and developers use to create a visually coherent and well performing website. Your logo, company mission, tone, type hierarchy, color palette, and approved brand visuals are all used to create a custom yet scalable website framework. Not only does this framework help keep things visually consistent, but it helps keep your website scalable so you can add new content and pages when needed.

What Should Be Included in a Website Design System?

Your website framework needs to include a responsive grid, as well as stylized components, re-usable modules and custom page templates. The following are just a few examples of components, modules and templates that should be considered for a B2B website design system:

Components: Elements that should be consistent across your site.

  • The Navigation
  • Type Hierarchy
  • Brand Color Palette
  • Button styles
  • Icon styles
  • Link styles
  • Filter dropdowns (styling and functionality)
  • Forms
  • The Footer

Modules: Individual customizable blocks that can be used on different landing pages.

  • Content
  • Image
  • Content + Image
  • Embedded Video
  • Benefits
  • Stats
  • Checklist
  • Testimonials
  • Blog Feed
  • Main Call to Action
  • Subscribe to Newsletter
  • Subpage Promotion
  • Download Callouts
  • Tables
  • Carousels
  • Accordions

Page Templates: Custom page layouts that include unique features or content.

  • Blog Post Page – flexibly accommodates longer content
  • Contact Page – includes dedicated form and other unique info as needed
  • Gated Content Page – includes special layout and form
  • Careers Page – includes job postings or third party feed
  • Team Page – includes headshots and links to bios
  • Search Results Page – includes stylized page results

Let’s Not Forget the Backend.

A custom website design system is created through a collaboration between your design and development teams. The standards are translated into a website that works both visually (on the front end) and is easy to update (in the backend).

A CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress allows you to control your website design and content. How this “backend” portion of your website design system is setup and what options and features it includes greatly affects how you are able to manage the consistency of your website design as content is added or changed over time. For example, having a drag and drop interface with brand elements already programmed in as options allows for faster and more visually consistent outcomes on the front end of your website (the portion your buyers will see).

Read more: Page builders vs custom built B2B WordPress websites with ACF.

Want to Share Your Design System?

Some companies put together online design specifications that include aspects of their website design system. These digital brand books help make sure all their employees are on the same page and have easy access to key brand assets. The following are two examples of this type of living style guide, with options to download brand assets:

Britive has this robust digital guide that includes their logos, colors, patterns, backgrounds, typographic hierarchy, main icon set, key web graphics, and website interaction examples available on their website: https://www.britive.com/brand-guide/

Certain includes their official logos, color palette specs, text styles in a digital and updatable live document that can grow with their brand: https://certain.com/branding/

So Does Your Website Have a Design System in Play?

Ask yourself:

  1. How easy is it for me to update my site?
  2. Is there design consistency across my pages or does everything look cobbled together?
  3. Is there unnecessary variety or complexity built in with too many hover effects, color applications, shapes, or dropshadows?

A customized system-focused website design for B2B companies results in a scalable and on-brand experience that ultimately brings in more customers. Utilizing standards helps keep things buttoned up and looking seamless for both internal and external audiences.

Still have questions about website design systems? Let’s talk about how we can ensure you have a sound structure in place.

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