Greg Becker, first off thanks for your perfectly reasonable reply. It’s rare for people to not just jump to criticisms — and someone in your position would have every right to ;).

The short answer is: you’re not the target of this article. To be honest, I’ve been a part of 100-person design teams (at Autodesk), but never managed one of that size. I think teams like yours absolutely have to have design systems and their evolution in the last 10 years has helped designers collaborate in ways that weren’t possible before.

I think the large corporate design teams have done a lot of good, but just like every kid wanting to be Lebron, many designers are over-engineering their design systems on smaller teams, or on early-stage products where the product design is still a moving target. But even for design teams of your size, I think it’s important that experimentation is baked into the process. Designers have to find a good balance between optimizing process, and allowing for that craftsmanship.

I’d be lying if I knew exactly what specific things can help achieve this since I’ve been on the outside for the last 3 years. But I’ve felt lately, that the merging of design assets (in Sketch or Figma) with code could potentially be a damaging act in the long-term. These tools don’t really handle two-way syncing so I think often once components are designed then committed to code, altering them from the design side becomes much more challenging because the inertia is so strong.

I am all for design and engineering to be synced, but I am hugely protective of the designer’s craft even in large technology teams. So anything you can do to protect that will be critical.

Thanks again for the comment. I have a ton of respect for the amount of work aligning a team that size can be.

By day, executive designer at Innovatemap where I help tech companies design marketable products. By night, co-founder of UX Power Tools.

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