A design system is a library of UI elements and other components that share a common design language.
Instead of starting from scratch, design systems allow web designers to pick and choose from a single collection of consistent and reusable components. If you’ve never used a design system, you’ll find them helpful in improving your workflow and delivering more cohesive work.
Here’s a closer look into what makes up design systems, and a roundup of some that you can clone for your own Webflow projects.
Design systems bring harmony to the design process
The term “design system” can mean different things and it’s easy to get confused if you’re not familiar. Here’s what you need to know.
First, their primary purpose is to provide the necessary building blocks required to put together a web design. A design system can be something as simple as a small selection of UI patterns, or something as extensive as a collection of UI components, typography, templates, code snippets, and brand guidelines.
Design systems are especially helpful when multiple people are all working on the same front end. They ensure that everyone follows the same brand and design guidelines. With product design teams often spread out across the globe, design systems aren’t just a nice thing to have in place, but a necessity. When everyone involved has access to the same design resources, it guarantees that the UI/UX and the rest of the visual design stay consistent no matter who on the design team is working on it.
The principles of design systems
If you’re looking at Airbnb’s check-in screen, Mailchimp’s header typography, or Google Android’s graphical user interfaces, it’s easy to forget that they all follow specific guidelines. The best design systems are well defined, follow a set of rules and design principles, and are barely perceptible as we navigate through them. Here’s a rundown of everything that needs to be considered in a design system.
Design guidelines: These are the set of guides a given design system is built on. These include the objectives of a design system, the strategies behind it, and how the design system will help meet the project’s set goals.
Brand identity: These are the aesthetic choices that tie all of the elements together. Here, typography, spacing, color palettes, logos, and CSS styles are all defined so that designers know exactly how to create a web design that’s on-brand. This also extends to non-visual aspects of a website, like the tone of voice.
Elements: Elements are the functional components in a design system that reflect a brand’s visual identity and follow the defined design guidelines.
Patterns: Patterns are the logic and structure that all elements must follow in order to stay consistent across a web design. Without patterns, things can get into disarray very quickly.
UI patterns help people navigate a website. Something like a checkbox or a date picker helps visitors complete actions. Bread crumbs and other UI elements related to navigation also help give users a smooth experience. No matter what type of element they may be or where they are in a design, they all need to follow a similar logic.
Design systems that you can clone for free
We’ve given you a bit of a crash course in what design systems are made of. Now, let’s take a look at some you can clone for your own web design projects.
1. Carbon Design System
If you require a comprehensive selection of pieces to build your next Webflow project with, Carbon Design System offers a wide array of UI elements, UX design components, and code snippets covering almost everything you would need in terms of functionality and layout.
Additionally, whether you’re looking for a primary button, secondary button, or ghost button, there are a number of options and sizes you can choose from. Along with some of these more basic UI elements, Carbon Design System also includes elements for more complex actions like submitting a form, uploading a file, or inputting text. We’re impressed by how much comes with this UI kit, which covers almost any type of functionality a designer may need.
Carbon Design System’s component library also includes plenty of options to put together a layout including a nice array of grid options. They’re organized in a straightforward way, making it easy to find what you need.
2. Webflow Design-System Template
Webflow Design-System Template has everything a designer needs to put together a clean and modern web design.
The components section is packed with useful UI patterns. There are accordions, buttons, tabs, and blocks for including embedded videos. All share the same refined sensibilities, making them perfect for those looking to put together a web design with a contemporary aesthetic.
A unique part of this design system is that it offers flexboxes. A number of different flexbox options are included, making it easy to incorporate them into your own work.
We’re also impressed with the typography options included. You’ll find styles for headers H1-H6 and a variety of paragraph text in different sizes and weights. With multiple typographic options, you’ll get the chance to experiment and determine what will look best in your own web designs.
Build completely custom, production-ready websites — or ultra-high-fidelity prototypes — without writing a line of code. Only with Webflow.
3. Webflow style guide starter
If you want to put together a style guide for your Webflow website, this design system makes it easy with a straightforward user experience.
You can peruse the Webflow Style Guide Starter with a single scroll or use the left-hand side navigation to jump to different areas. There are sections dedicated to rich text, buttons, columns, icons, and other necessary elements.
What’s great is the simplicity in which these elements are presented, like in this section on grids. It’s easy to see how these arrangements differ from one another, so you can quickly find what you need.
Not only does this offer a toolkit of well-designed UI elements, but you also get this useful set of icons to use anywhere you need them.
If you’re looking to better understand how to use design systems with Webflow, check out this blog by Nikola Bain, the creator of Webflow Style Guide Starter.
4. Landing page system template
Web designers are often tasked with pushing out multiple landing pages for a brand or company. It takes a lot of work to build out multiple pages, so anything that can save time should be taken advantage of. This particular design system is the perfect starting point.
The landing page system template goes beyond just giving you a generic template. It looks good, and the content is under the control of Webflow’s CMS, which takes away the burden of having to make changes directly in the layout.
Right from the get-go this design system has everything in place to put together a landing page. With very little effort it’s possible to go in, add your own logos, branding, and content.
If you’re looking for a quick entry into crafting landing pages, this design system enables you to create something that looks and works great in a short amount of time.
5. Design system
Design System comes through with an entire ecosystem to get a Webflow project up and running. Along with an excellent selection of UI elements, it also offers a multitude of layout elements like responsive flexbox grids, containers, and options for alignment. This is another design system that gives you everything you need in a single package.
We’re huge fans of style guides, and Design System includes one that you can customize to your own branding. Having a single source of truth that has both a style guide and design system, is an effective way to make sure that everyone involved with a web design project stays consistent with their work.
6. Dezin Design System
Dezin Design System not only assembles all of the patterns, components, and design elements any designer would want in their toolkit, it also contains a level of artistry that sets it apart. It speaks in a design language that’s more sophisticated and offers users a more stylized and unique library of components and patterns.
It’s clear — aesthetics matter — and you can see this in Dezin Design System’s extensive collection of colors, smooth buttons, and minimal type.
Along with a strong sense of design, there is also much here that’s practical for any project. You’ll find components for embedding videos, ready-built forms, as well as a section of eye-pleasing icons.
For those looking for a UX/UI design system with a more elegant visual identity — the Dezin Design System is worth checking out.
Start your next website project with a design system
We’ve all stared at that blank screen, excited to bring an idea to fruition, but felt overwhelmed by the task ahead of us. Design systems give you the momentum you need at the top of the design process. You can immediately jump in and start adding the pieces to a layout, ending up with a visually pleasing design that’s held together by a strong sense of consistency.
We always enjoy sharing knowledge to help you on your journey. Please check out Webflow University, the Webflow Forum, and check in on this blog often to learn more about web design and expand your skills.