In today’s technology-driven world, good UX and design are a key business advantage. Just look at some of the current top-rated companies: Apple, AirBnB, Spotify, Netflix, Uber. What do they have in common? Besides the fact that we can’t imagine our lives without them, they are all known for being design-led brands.

As John Maeda once put it,

"Design isn’t just about beauty; it’s about market relevance and meaningful results.”

Apple isn’t Apple just because it has a good-looking logo. Design is much more than that. It involves well-crafted experiences focused on customer needs, relevant interactions, and, of course, great visuals. It’s those great experiences that make customers come back.   

However, with the pressure to deliver new products, and innovate faster to keep your ever more demanding customers satisfied, it’s tempting to neglect the design and user experience of a product to get to market faster.   

The truth is, it’s not easy to keep up with the pressure to scale and deliver fast while ensuring design and UX best-practices. But it’s also not a mission impossible. To deal with this problem, you have essentially two solutions:

  • You can hire more UX experts, UI designers and front-end developers
  • You can create a design system.

The problem with the first option is that it might be very difficult to achieve - that is, unless you have unlimited financial resources. Skilled design and UX experts are, not only hard to find, but also expensive. And having many UX and UI experts working on different solutions can lead to inconsistencies in experiences across different products and, eventually, impact user adoption. Which leaves you with option number two: creating your own design system. And that’s where OutSystems can help you.

Introducing Design Systems to Low-Code 

A design system is a set of design standards, documentation, principles, and toolkits that developers and designers can use to ensure brand consistency across a multitude of projects. Design systems are constantly evolving with the product, the tools, and the new technologies. They include pattern libraries, style guides, and live style guides. The greatest advantage of having a design system is that it helps designers and developers scale their efforts as quickly as their business demands, while ensuring high-quality and brand compliant experiences.

Low-code platforms like OutSystems, on the other hand, are a type of application development technology that uses visual development instead of hand-coding. They allow developers to create new applications up to 10 times faster when compared to traditional development.

In our quest to help companies accelerate the development of great web and mobile applications, we’ve created a UI framework available in the OutSystems platform that developers can use to build rich interfaces quickly. We called it OutSystems UI.

What does this have to do with design systems? Well, you can use OutSystems UI to create scale-proof design systems without blowing your budget. 

Building a Scalable Design System with Low-Code

OutSystems UI is a framework that gives you the building blocks you need to create applications through pattern composition. It comes with every instance of the OutSystems platform and it gives you access to hundreds of pre-built UI patterns, samples and screen templates with predefined layouts, widgets, components, styles and logic, that you can add to your OutSystems applications using a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) type of editor.

Things like progress bars, datepickers, carousels, switches to list and dashboard screen templates are all available for you to use and reuse across your desktop, tablet and mobile applications.

Design System with Low-Code: OutSystems UI Living Style Guide

Together with OutSystems UI, OutSystems offers a design system that is typically showcased through a Live Style Guide. The OutSystems Live Style Guide gives designers and developers a starting point. They can then apply their branding guidelines to the layouts and patterns (or even create their own custom patterns and layouts from the ground up using low-code or CSS) and build their own design system.

This Design System, or custom Live Style Guide can then be used as a live library of UX patterns that is made available for your developers to use across applications and create experiences that are unique to your brand. 

This way, you are not limited in any way. OutSystems UI simply accelerates UI development because it gives you a base to start from and ensures you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, while giving you the freedom to build any custom UI pattern or screen you need.   

In addition, OutSystems UI also provides you with Design Kits to enable UXers and designers to build prototypes and mock-ups on top of the out-of-the-boxdesign system in their preferred design tool. These design kits offer a complete collection of styles, UI patterns, widgets, and layouts, crafted on Sketch and Figma to give you a head start.

A Design System to Bring Developers and Designers Together

This doesn’t mean you can or should fire all your UX and UI designers and front-end developers. It just means you can make the most of those highly-skilled teams by having them work on a centralized set of UX/UI components to create your company’s Design System leveraging the OutSystems Live Style Guide. This will then help your company scale design and experience best-practices to your entire portfolio, and ensure consistency across your applications with the easy reuse of theme colors,  custom UI patterns, widgets and screen templates.

This also means your UX and UI designers will have more time to spend on creating those unique, differentiating custom interactions or applications, and don’t have to rebuild the same interactions over and over again for every project. Their work will become more meaningful, effective and impactful and even if you don’t have the resources of Apple or Microsoft, you can still deliver incredible and consistent experiences to your customers and employees easily and quickly. 

Want to take it for a test drive? Try OutSystems for free.