Who is Leandro?
My name is Leandro Gomes, and I’m a design system engineer born in Portugal. After several years working in healthcare, I’m helping to reinvent banking for everyone at George Labs in Vienna. 🇦🇹
How do you balance the need for consistency with the desire for creative freedom among your designers?
That’s a very good question! In our company, we try to balance consistency and creative freedom by setting clear guidelines but allowing flexibility within defined boundaries. It’s a daily challenge. 🙂
How do you stay authentic and true to your vision for the design system, even when faced wiith external pressures or trends?
In order to stay true to the vision, it's crucial to have a strong vision and principles from stakeholders that help maintain authenticity despite external pressures. Without this support, the implementation of a design system is bound to fail.
How do you handle criticism or pushback against your design system?
Handling criticism is an essential part of refining a design system. We should constantly remind ourselves that constructive criticism can only improve design systems. It's crucial to listen and iterate.
If you could go back and change one decision you made in your design system journey, what would it be and why?
I’m well pleased with the evolution of our design system, but if I could change one decision, it would be implementing design tokens (colors, space, typography) from the start.
What's the most surprising or unexpected benefit you've seen from implementing your design system?
A surprising benefit of a design system is how it can cultivate a sense of community and shared ownership among the team.
If you had to choose one metric to measure the success of your design system, what would it be and why?
A well-maintained design system should bring efficiency gains to product development. Like this, a success metric could be the time saved on design and development tasks.
If you could design a mascot for your design system, what would it look like, and what would its name be?
If I designed a mascot, it would be a friendly bee called "Apis". When people think about bees, they usually think of a totalitarian and rigid society, but in reality, they are incredibly efficient and flexible!
What do you believe about design systems that other people don't?
Design Systems are not just about visual consistency. My experience tells me they should also be used as a communication tool for interdisciplinary teams. For example, a Figma library (even with React components) is not a whole design system. They encompass much more!
In your opinion, what are the most overrated and underrated aspects of design systems?
One of the most overrated aspects of design systems is their initial setup because it requires substantial effort. Underrated is the efficiency and consistency they bring to product development.
What are the most common misconceptions about your work or the role of design systems in product development?
A common misconception is that rigid adherence to design systems limits creativity and that they are only for large organizations. Far from the truth!
What's one thing you wish more people understood about design systems?
I wish more people understood that a design system is a living, adaptable resource that evolves with time, not pure static guidelines.
What's one piece of advice that you would like people to remember from this interview?
Remember that design systems are not static; they should adapt and evolve to meet your team's and users' changing needs.
If you could instantly become an expert in something, what would it be?
If I could instantly become an expert in something, it would be sustainability to focus on solutions to address our environmental challenges.
What's your favorite thing to do when you are not in design systems?
Besides design systems, I enjoy music, traveling, and swimming. In no particular order. 😊