Why Design Systems fail

To have a successful design system, you need to make a continuous effort to invest resources into it. I like to compare this to working out.

You can work out intensely for 3 months and see some gains, but once you stop working out, those will slowly fade away. If you continue to work out, even if its less often than the initial investment, you’ll see yourself maintaining your fitness level at a much higher rate than if you stopped completely.

If you invest once in a design system (say, 3 months of overhauling it) but neglect to keep it up, you’ll face the same situation. You’ll see immediate impact, but that impact will fade as it gets out of sync with new designs and you’ll end up with strange, floating bits of code that nobody is using. Your engineers will stop using it as the patterns become outdated, and then you’ll find yourself in for another round of large investment (while dreading going through the process since its fallen so far out of shape).

Why Design Systems Fail

Great post from Una on what it takes to build a successful (and lasting) design system. I’m in the process of planning a big design system that I’ll be working on the coming next months so this article was a goldmine for me.

There are a bunch of posts out there that are talking about all the benefits of having a design system (and they are all right of course). But just like Una’s analogy with working out - working out is great for you, there’s no arguing that. The hard part is maintaining that fitness, sorry design system.

Get more writing like this

Sign up and get new writing, just like this, every other two weeks. Unsubscribe any time (I'm not a dickhead).

Latest writing

Delight Comes Last

The Cost of Lies

Big Mood Machine

Simplicity is a war

The next iPhone

Working as a UX-lead

Leadership or management

Everyone should own a dog

Silence is gold

Cameras that understand

Humans, not users

Keeping AI Honest

Right to privacy

2018 in review

What’s my location?

The State of UX in 2019

Why scrap scrappy?

I’m taking a break

Organized for browsing

Stay humble, stay eager

The iPhone Franchise

Why Small Teams Win

Back to Work!

The Bullshit Web

Just keep at it

Let them eat cake

Netflix Culture



Vanity Metrics

Tech is not Neutral


Whose risk?

Why Small Teams Win

Phone Bored

Karim Rashid

Dieter Rams

Bleeding Out

Fake News is spam

Conversational Design


Bye bye Facebook


The seat at the table


Love letters to trees

Pricing Philisophy



Make me think

The Future of Retail

Hawaii Missile Alert

2017 review

Why Design Systems fail

What You Build

Checkout for Winners

Living a Testing Culture

What do you do?

Creative Class

How To Predict Your Future

Carpe Diem UX-designers

What´s Good Design?

Chasing Growth



A Redesign

Design quotes




Designing for Mobile

Is Less More?

Why Simple is Hard

Pricing It Perfectly

Failure, Reflect, Renew

Trusting Your Gut

Built to last

An Eye on the Future


Working with me

UX Design explained

Great user experience

Naming your icons


Due to a late cancellation on a project, I have availability from August 19. Let's talk!