VMware’s Global Web Marketing team faced a challenge: they had a wealth of design components and patterns from a 2021 redesign but lacked a formalized design system. I took on the role of Design System Lead to create the Unity Design System, addressing these issues and enhancing VMware’s design capabilities.

CompanyVMwareServicesUX DesignYear2023

The Challenge

Key challenges identified:
  • Absence of a central component or pattern library.
  • Limited documentation for design assets.
  • Recurring design work for each project.
  • Lack of component visibility.
  • Absence of governance for components.
  • Accessibility issues in components and pages.

Goals & Objective

The Unity Design System aimed to be a single source of truth for internal users, including designers, developers, strategists, and stakeholders. Specific goals:

  • Build a comprehensive design library.
  • Improve accessibility of components.
  • Expand documentation.
  • Revamp the internal microsite for effective showcasing.

Discovery

Competitive Analysis

The project began with extensive research into design system best practices, drawing inspiration from successful examples like the Atlassian Design Language, IBM Carbon Design System, and US Web Design System.

Analytics

IT reported a high rate of component enhancements within six months, mainly from colleagues outside the UX team, highlighting the need for a comprehensive design system.

Audits

I conducted an extensive audit of over 50 pages within the dot com site, including various microsites, to find inconsistencies between live sites and existing documentation and any accessibility issues.

I also examined the internal microsite which served as the repository for our Design System documentation. The content was primarily tailored to front-end developers, focusing on the process of publishing components and it only covered 18 core components (53 with variations).

Microsite Audit

Design Library

All design systems are unique to each company, so I chose to create a design library that encompassed both components and patterns.

Collaborating with a third-party design firm, we employed atomic design principles, starting small with typography, colors, and basic components, then gradually progressing to more complex ones. Every component was meticulously recreated within Figma.

Foundations

Components & Patterns

Documentation

I added detailed documentation to each component in our design library. To make things even easier, I introduced a usage guide template within Design Docs, which would be valuable during the microsite redesign.

I also created a quick start guide with Figma best practices. This helped our UX team work with a consistent set of guidelines, making the design process smoother.

Design Docs

Governance

A Design System Team was established, comprised of myself as the UX Design Lead, an IT POC, 2 front-end developers, a content strategist, a project manager, and an informed POC.

A governance framework and process was developed for the creation and ongoing maintenance of components. Other teams in the business could now look to our team for an enhancement idea or new component inquiry.

Socialization

Communication channels were established via Slack and ClickUp to keep teams updated of the design system progress. I conducted bi-weekly workshops for the UX team to ensure direct engagement and updates.

Planned Next Steps

As of October 2023, we paused production of the Unity Design System due to the pending company acquisition. Nevertheless, our achievements were substantial – a functional design library was actively used by 30 teams, with over 5,000 component inserts by September 2023 (compared to 500 inserts in October 2022).

The next phase involved showcasing Unity Design System to a broader audience to further socialize what the design system was, why it’s important, and how to work with the Design System Team. I also planned to conduct an internal usability study and assess the feasibility of redesigning the microsite. The ultimate goal was to create a comprehensive source of truth through the redesigned internal microsite.

Company Impact

The Unity Design System is poised to significantly impact VMware’s Global Web Marketing efforts. It will enhance efficiency, foster consistency, and empower internal teams to create cohesive and user-friendly digital experiences. While specific metrics and outcomes are pending, the Unity Design System is positioned well for any future state of VMware to drive business success.

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