The Omni-Channel Design System

The omni-channel design system—I’ve had this idea floating in my head for a few months. The idea is based loosely off the concept of omni-channel marketing, that your customer should be able togo from print, digital, brick-and-mortar, and back to digital and without the slightest hiccup in their shopping experience with your retail brand.

“A design system unites product teams around a common visual language. It reduces design debt, accelerates the design process, and builds bridges between teams working in concert to bring products to life.”


As you can see design systems are important for many reasons. However, every time I’ve sat down to research design systems, I find them to be too narrowly focused.


I get it, design systems were born out of a need to create better digital products—I don’t disagree with any of that. But we need to start thinking about how design systems can work for all facets of the brand execution.


What happens when you’re working on a brand that does everything from trade shows to interactive PDFs? Most design systems give you buttons and grid columns, but what they lack is the ability to connect all the in-between bits and pieces that a corporate brand might deliver. Most systems aren’t flexible enough to work in all aspects of brand execution. This leaves users with a haphazard experience because they will inevitably jump between print piece, to email, to website and back again. The user journey is long and complex, and design should help connect them and relay a sense of familiarity along the way.


Why can’t we build a design system that lays the underlying foundation for design work for more than just software products?Could this system free designers to focus on more disruptive pieces and reduce design debt along the way? If we build an omni-channel design system that seamlessly floats between interactive print, digital, and motion can we begin to lay the groundwork for designer to be innovation leaders in the company? These are the questions that keep me up at night (yes, I’m a nerd like that). More importantly these are the reasons I think it’s important to start thinking about an omni-channel design system.