There has been a lot of buzz going around Design Systems and its place in everyday work-life. For some professionals, it’s a way to get your workflow organized and easy to navigate.
In the freelance world today, freelance designers are wondering if using design systems is worth the time and investment. Many answers have flooded the internet. Some are useful, and others aren’t so useful.
But before we begin to answer this question, we need to take a good look at design systems and how they come into the freelancer’s picture.
What Are Design Systems?
A good understanding of the way design systems work is necessary if you’re going to integrate it into your workflow.
Before we get into what design systems are, let’s look at what they are not.
A design system is not a pattern or sketch library that merely guides you through your daily work. It’s not a deliverable as it were. For instance, a style could be useful in a design system. However, it’s one of the deliverables that make up a design system.
We look at the design system is a set of rules, constraints, and principles a designer should follow during design and coding. It’s not just the “what,” but it’s more of the “how.” Hence, the three components of a design system give both a guide and a check for quality output.
Let’s take the instance of a designer working on a sales page. How do the three components of a system design come into play?
- Rule: The page must have cues or text that visibly show different calls to action. It ensures a visitor to the page isn’t confused.
- Constraints: These are boundaries you must maintain, both in text and graphics. For instance, a design system may require you to put only 3 CTAs on the sales page. That’s a constraint
- Principles: The page must effectively communicate the nature of interaction the owner desires to have with visitors to the page.
The need for companies to implement design systems stems from the realization that their designs weren’t scaling alongside their company. Hence, it created a gap that needed filling. Then came design systems as a solution.
How Do Freelancers Enter the Fray?
With companies downsizing and cutting down on the overhead cost, there is a plethora of work available for freelancers who are conversant with design systems. Companies go to places like writing services review Best Writers Online, Freelancer and Fiverr to outsource their content and design work.
There’s a massive opportunity for freelancers to take their work to another level. It’s no longer news that the business and tech world depend on the services of freelancers. According to Upwork, most of the skilled professionals are freelancers.
However, as a freelancer, there are certain things you must put in place to ensure you take advantage of the potential in design systems.
Here are a few of them.
1. You have to Step Up Your Design Game.
Using design systems entails a lot, and you need to shape up for the demands it places on you. Design systems do not favour freelancers who operate on a low scale. You have to take your hustle to a whole new level to deploy design systems for your freelance work effectively.
For instance, you design simple websites of about five to ten pages. You don’t need to deploy a design system for your work. A simple web builder can help you deal with that.
Design systems will make more sense to you if you handle complex and massive projects. As the project gets more intricate, the chances are that you’ll lose your consistency. A design system keeps you in check and on track.
With a design system set up for your projects, you can quickly and seamlessly tweak and edit stuff in the future. It’s also easier to fix a problem when the need arises. Hence, you save yourself time and avoid unnecessary stress.
In essence, a freelancer that handles big projects should have a design system integrated into their workflow.
2. Offer Regular and Consistent Services.
The biggest challenge a freelancer faces is the irregularity and inconsistency in getting jobs. Feast and famine syndrome is a familiar concept among freelancers. The inconsistency in attracting clients makes it difficult for freelancers to have design systems dialed in.
The solution to this is to have clients you service regularly. Usually, these clients call for your services on a weekly or monthly basis. The consistent flow of work and income will help you deploy a design system for your work.
The more you’re able to integrate design systems in working for your clients, the more you get massive results for them. Your services will help their design grows as their business is growing. Thus, you’ll become indispensable to them.
Sometimes, it’s difficult even to get clients that let you offer regular services to them. Most clients expect you to set up their website to run. They only want to contact you when there’s a need for an upgrade.
In this situation, you have more reason to deploy a design system into the project. It makes it easier for you to initiate the upgrades when the need arises.
4. Prepare to Take Your Freelance Business to A Whole New Dimension.
The beauty of a freelancer is that you get jobs, execute them, and enjoy the dividends on your own. As high as that sounds, that’s the least essential thing about freelancing.
Freelancing offers you the time and opportunity to grow your business into an agency. With an agency, you can serve more clients and add a lot more services to your offering.
If you have plans of taking your freelance business some notches higher, then a design system will do you a world of good. It will help you set up rules and principles that guide how you work with clients - big or small. It opens you up to more significant opportunities to scale as high as you desire.
The journey starts now. You must integrate a design system into how you work. It makes switching from a lone ranger to an agency a seamless ride
Bringing It All Together.
This post was about getting an answer to the question; how do design systems work for freelancers? You can find the answers to this question in the points made above. As a freelancer, if you pay attention to the four things I discussed in this post, you would effectively incorporate design systems into your workflow.