Diana
Wolosin

UX Designer, Design Systems

Diana is a design system enthusiast, dog lover, and believer in mental attraction, Diana is originally from Colombia and is now based in California. Over eight years of experience in the world of product design and design systems. Currently rockin' it at indeed.com, dedicated to maintaining and optimizing the design system that powers the look and feel of products and emails alike.

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Employees

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Teams using
design system

Teams using
design system

Files using
design system

Files using
design system

Can you walk us through the current state of the design system you're involved with?

The Indeed Design System has passed its initial stages, having been released and distributed approximately four years ago. However, there is significant potential for further growth and enhancement regarding component quality, documentation, and overall processes. 

Currently, we find ourselves in a stage of optimization, implying that our system is not merely a zero-to-one initiative but rather a one-to-two project. The ongoing efforts are focused on refining and elevating the system to a higher level of sophistication and effectiveness, including theming, visual uplift, and, most of all, better user experience.

What tools do you use to build and maintain your design system?

User experience is not only "Figma". A key lesson I've learned from my design systems journey is the recognition that executing all stages of a project under a single tool, especially if that tool isn't tailored for the task, is impractical. Consequently, we've adopted diverse tools to address specific steps tailored to the project's unique needs and requirements.

For instance, we utilize Docs for briefs, slides for project presentations, spreadsheets for data documentation, Storybook for distribution to developers, Jira for project management, Figjam for collaborative workshops, and Slack and Zoom for team communications. Most significantly, we've developed our internal platform to document and distribute all design system resources, which originally lived in Figma. While the transition from Figma presented challenges, it was a crucial undertaking that substantially improved our customers' ability to better access and digest the design system resources.

OUR TOOLS:

Figma

Storybook

Internal tool for documenting and distributing design system resources

Internal tool for documenting and distributing DS resources

Docs

Jira

Slack

Zoom

How do you balance the need for consistency with the desire for creative freedom among your designers?

The Guided Support program

Acknowledging some designers' inevitable detachment of components from our design system is a complex reality for us. Since this aspect is beyond our control, we've devised a proactive strategy to assist our customers (designers and developers) in detaching and creating solutions that align with the design system guidelines, even if those solutions are not officially part of it. The Guided Support program has been established for this purpose. It was created by some of our most sharp team members.

This program aims to support product teams crafting solutions that adhere to our guidelines. If a project cannot be achieved using our existing design system components, our design system experts collaborate with product designers to develop a solution that serves as a middle ground for everyone involved.

While we aspire for this program to address 100% of our product needs, we acknowledge that some designers within the organization may opt to create their solutions without our support due to practicality or project timelines. This is why we provide clear and comprehensive documentation to facilitate their exploration process, an aspect in which we excel.

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Being a designer is like being a good salesperson. You want to share and advocate for your work with your colleagues, hoping they'll buy your ideas.

Being a designer is like being a good salesperson. You want to share and advocate for your work with your colleagues, hoping they'll buy your ideas.

How do you stay true to your vision for the design system, even when faced with external pressures or trends?

Honestly, this is something they often overlook in UX programs at schools, but it's a crucial aspect that needs attention. I've had times when my work got rerouted, or entire projects got pushed to the backlog due to priority changes. Being a designer is like being a good salesperson. You want to share and advocate for your work with your colleagues, hoping they'll buy your ideas. But if they're not, it's a test of your skills as a designer, handling situations, negotiating, and finding a middle ground that works for everyone. Basically, you're trying not to miss out on an opportunity.

In the business world, you might not be selling an actual product, but you're working to move a project through its stages, ensuring it doesn't get stuck but keeps progressing, creating room for more tasks and opportunities. Confidence is a subtle crucial skill for a designer's success that goes beyond what you typically learn in UX programs.

How does your team collaborate on the design system?

Our collaboration in design system operations involves various aspects. Our processes include different teams with different skills working together. For instance, when creating a component, it goes through design and development teams for implementation, and then content, accessibility, and localization teams review the quality of the output.

When we work with the product team to create a solution, we follow a straightforward contribution process with defined steps. This ensures that the component we deliver meets the criteria for official inclusion in the design systems. We also team up with other groups to develop solutions for their products, even if those solutions are outside the design system. Collaboration is a fundamental part of our design systems and is crucial in various aspects of our work.

Are you tracking your design system? If you had to choose one metric to measure the success of your design system, what would it be and why?

Figma Analytics

Sourcegraph

Quantitative:

Tracking our design system involves both quantitative and qualitative approaches. On the quantitative front, we leverage Figma analytics for design and Sourcegraph for development to measure the usage of our design system. This includes assessing the popularity of components, identifying the most frequently used ones, and understanding which components are detached, providing valuable insights to prioritize our efforts effectively.

Qualitative:

Regarding qualitative tracking, we conduct weekly refinements where we review product team requests in the form of Jira tickets. This process helps us discern hot topics and prevalent issues from the previous months, allowing us to establish priorities and identify and address any bugs or concerns that may have emerged. By combining quantitative and qualitative tracking methods, we ensure an understanding of the design system's performance and continuously refine it based on actual usage data and user feedback.

If you could go back and change one decision you made in your design system journey, what would it be and why?

When I initially delved into creating design systems, I started building one from scratch, which included the creation of primitives. Among the earliest tasks was establishing a color palette. In my initial enthusiasm, I assigned cool names like Cinnabar, Chambray, Malachite, and so forth to the color styles. Initially, my team loved it, but the design system evolved and required dark mode. 

With increased expertise, I realized I had laid a weak foundation for theming. I learned that naming styles (nowadays referred to as variables) and components in a semantic manner is a crucial strategy, especially when crafting the primitives of a design system. This semantic approach facilitates a more organized and scalable system. I highly recommend exploring the YouTube video "Design Tokens on Asana's Design Systems Team - Schema 2021" for further insights into this valuable aspect of design systems.

Do you use any kind of automation or AI tools?

While we're cautious about third-party AI tools accessing our company's private info, we do use tools to help with tasks like number crunching using our Figma analytics library or simple things like figuring out color calculation for the best choices. A good example is one of our most experienced designers recently using a tool to find color values based on HEX codes by checking for brightness equivalence.

As for whether the company plans to bring AI into our design systems processes formally, I don't have any confirmation.

Where do you see design systems heading in the next few years?

One of our primary objectives as the design system team is to empower designers and developers to independently fulfill their requests by adhering to our established processes and guidelines. Over the past year, a key focus for our team has been the development of our internal platform, which serves as the central hub for distributing design system assets. 

If I can predict the future, I see a self-sufficient user experience within our design system ecosystem. Our team operates more in the background, dedicated to maintaining and optimizing the design system while the users navigate our documentation. Our 1:1 support would become so minimal that they can autonomously handle design system requests. Meanwhile, we'd leverage user feedback to improve the design system.

What's one thing you wish more people understood about design systems?

A design system is like a living organism. Just like nurturing a newborn requires dedication to ensure continuous growth and evolution. Similarly, once a design system is implemented, released, and distributed, it demands ongoing maintenance. A design system keeps developing and evolving. Some companies see it as a library you can finish and deliver, but the real deal is that a design system is never indeed done. When a company invests time in a design system, it becomes an endless commitment that requires resources to ensure ongoing evolution and the product's development.

While this might sound like a substantial workload, the benefits far outweigh the effort involved: reduced development costs, increased efficiency, and productivity.

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A design system is like a living organism. Just like nurturing a newborn requires dedication to ensure continuous growth and evolution.

A design system is like a living organism. Just like nurturing a newborn requires dedication to ensure continuous growth and evolution.

In your opinion, what are the most overrated and underrated aspects of design systems?

Design systems have become more popular lately because they bring many benefits to organizations. However, I've noticed a few misconceptions. Here are three I've spotted:

Not everything fits:

Some people think a design system can do it all. While it's awesome for keeping things consistent and smooth in design and development, it's not a magic fix for every situation, but it can be improved. Design systems grow and adapt alongside the product. fits:

Documentation overload:

Who wants to spend forever reading instructions? Most designers learn best by doing. That's why usability is key when creating a design system. People won't bother with the documentation if it is too dull or hidden away.

Too rigid:

Spending ages making a large set of rules won't be relevant it if they're not flexible. Users will find their own way around and ignore the design system. Be smart from the start and figure out ways to get the users on board with the design system, even if they want to build their solution.

If you could have a coffee chat with any person from the design (system) space, who would it be and why?

As a Latin immigrant and primarily a Spanish speaker in America, I often struggle with the language, which, honestly, triggers impostor syndrome for me. I'd love to learn how to overcome this language barrier and shift my focus to the knowledge I bring rather than getting too caught up in articulating everything perfectly. Whenever I encounter a successful non-English-speaking woman in the field, I greatly admire and strongly desire to learn more about their experiences.


I'd enjoy grabbing a coffee with Romina Kavcic for several reasons. As a European woman whose first language isn't English, she still manages to create outstanding design system content and speak at conferences in English. I've applied her insights countless times in my professional life. Romina is a standout in our field, and her website is an invaluable treasure trove of design system resources.

Coffee with Romina Kavcic

OMG!

What's one piece of advice that you would like people to remember from this interview?

Share your knowledge with those who want to learn from you. Not only does it solidify your understanding of a subject, but it also creates a positive ripple effect.

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"Teaching is a great way to keep learning." -Matthea Harvey

"Teaching is a great way to keep learning." -Matthea Harvey

What's your favorite thing to do when you are not in design systems?

When I'm not diving into the world of design systems, I enjoy the beauty of the San Diego outdoors with my hubby and furry baby. I love hiking and inhaling the smell of fresh, wet greens, taking walks with my family, and seeing the breathtaking sunsets of the city.

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Diana Wolosin

Diana Wolosin

Diana Wolosin

© 2022 - 2024 The Design System Guide by Romina Kavcic

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© 2022 - 2024 The Design System Guide by Romina Kavcic

© 2022 - 2024 The Design System Guide by Romina Kavcic