My question about design in the corporate world was selected during yesterday’s webinar with Brad Frost and Sophie Shepherd: Design Systems and Creativity: Unlikely Allies.
I was so excited! Although maybe there were only three questions so they were forced to choose mine. In any case, I saw Brad speak about atomic design last year at An Event Apart in Orlando and he really influenced my thinking.
Seeing as how I have a degree in journalism and created the editorial style guide for PR Newswire Europe when I worked there, I could NOT believe it hadn’t dawned on me to create a design style guide for my company at the time. I set my mind to creating one as soon as I got back to work!
Once I got actually got back to real life in the corporate world, however, I struggled a little because I felt armed with so much knowledge from that conference that I didn’t know where to start. There was so much to do!! Ultimately, I decided to start with improving the site’s accessibility because consistency and good design are great, but if your customers can’t even access and understand your content, what’s the point?
I ended up moving to Charleston and leaving that job, but my next big project I was tackling was a design style guide, or pattern library of sorts. Being in the corporate world, this wasn’t as easy as the internet makes it seem. The site was creaking under twisted and hacked widgets, multiple style sheets, outdated content, poor practices in design (such as entire pages being one giant image), and back end devs talking about throwing Bootstrap into the mix on top of everything else. We had nothing close to a design system or pattern library. It was pretty much up to the designer/front end person to make things happen.
Thus, it wasn’t exactly possible to simply come up with a nice style sheet and say, “Here’s what we’re doing!” There was talk of getting a new website in the next year or two, but that’s a long time away when you’re thinking of all the new content and pages that will be created.
Brad and Sophie suggested in cases like this, it’s easiest to get stakeholder buy-in by getting a team together to collect all the disjointed pieces. For example, collect the many different buttons (or any other design aspect) littered throughout a site and put them all on a sheet to show the wild inconsistencies. It’s a lot easier to make a case when you have visual documentation vs hypothetical situations, and in a situation like this you can immediately see how that type of inconsistency does not reflect the brand.
I was really, really excited about working on this at my last company and that’s one of the saddest parts about leaving. That was such a huge opportunity and an area to really make an impact. BUT, Charleston was calling and I’ve wanted to move back down south pretty much my whole life. And hopefully I will get another opportunity to make an impact at a new company!