Inconsistencies and productivity

I was chatting with my pal Jules Forrest earlier today—she happens to be one of the best designers and developers that I know—and she mentioned something really interesting that I’ve been rolling around in my head all day. We were talking about design systems and how to incentivize good systems work across an organization when Jules argued that:

Design teams aren’t explicitly rewarded for reusing designs the way engineers know they should write DRY code, so introducing inconsistencies feels like productivity.

I’ve found this to be the case in almost every team I’ve worked on. In fact, it takes a lot of time to design robust systems that can scale across every part of a UI/product and doing all that work weirdly enough doesn’t feel like work, instead it’s more akin to unnecessary hassle and stress. But I can’t help think that this is what should differentiate the work of product designers from the work of graphic or print designers—and orgs should really incentivize simple and perhaps even boring additions to a system or a product.

I replied to Jules that yes yes yes that’s perfect and in a rare moment of clarity I riffed on what she said, arguing that “the hard work [of product design and building websites] is doing something almost unseen, unnoticed.”

Anyways, you should follow Jules on Twitter immediately because yikes she’s a constant fount of knowledge and smarts in this department.