The cre­ative di­rec­tor, au­thor and speaker ex­plains why de­sign sys­tems are so im­por­tant

net magazine - - CONTENTS - job: Founder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Su­perFriendly; CEO, Su­perBooked w: su­per­friend.ly t: @dan­mall

Dan Mall ex­plores the rea­sons why de­sign sys­tems are so im­por­tant

You’re well known in the web de­sign com­mu­nity for your books, talks and work with big clients. But can you in­tro­duce your­self to those who might not know you? DM: Hi, I’m Dan, a cre­ative di­rec­tor and ad­vi­sor from Philly. I’m founder and di­rec­tor of Su­perFriendly, a de­sign col­lab­o­ra­tive that brings cre­ative di­rec­tion and de­sign to some the world’s most im­por­tant and in­ter­est­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Su­perBooked, a ser­vice that helps you find work with a lit­tle help from your friends. You’ve just launched a course about de­sign sys­tems. What can you tell us about that? DM: It’s a video-based course on Skill­share about how to cre­ate and work with de­sign sys­tems and get your col­leagues on board. A de­sign sys­tem is a tool to make you more ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive in your work. It should help you move faster, work bet­ter with other peo­ple and, hon­estly, just have more fun.

One thing I see de­sign­ers and de­vel­op­ers do­ing over and over again is rein­vent­ing the wheel. How many times do you want to de­sign that but­ton, form or the re­ally dry parts of a project? A de­sign sys­tem should take care of that stuff. So, over this course, I break down my prin­ci­ples and pro­cesses of de­sign sys­tems, so you can spend less time do­ing the bor­ing and mo­not­o­nous stuff and more time hav­ing fun. Why do you think every­one is talk­ing about de­sign sys­tems right now? DM: When I was learn­ing web de­sign 20 years ago, most of my clients needed help mak­ing their first web­site. Now, I tend to work with or­gan­i­sa­tions manag­ing lots of dig­i­tal prod­ucts likes web­sites and apps. Be­cause of this vol­ume, a lot of them are find­ing it hard to cre­ate con­sis­tency and ef­fi­ciency. At this scale, it be­comes very ap­par­ent how much money and time is be­ing wasted need­lessly rein­vent­ing the wheel. A de­sign sys­tem is a great tool to help solve this prob­lem. De­sign sys­tems are trendy at the mo­ment, so is there a dan­ger peo­ple will use them for the wrong rea­sons and for the wrong pur­poses? DM: Of course! With great power comes great re­spon­si­bil­ity and hav­ing a de­sign sys­tem is a lot of power. For ex­am­ple, one of the out­comes of hav­ing a de­sign sys­tem is to free up de­sign­ers from de­sign­ing the same thing over and over and in­stead spend time on more im­por­tant and in­ter­est­ing things. How­ever, peo­ple could use a de­sign sys­tem to put their de­sign­ers out of a job in­stead. That’s bad news for every­one! Your course is hosted on Skill­share, a plat­form that lets peo­ple cre­ate in­struc­tional videos and charge peo­ple a sub­scrip­tion to ac­cess them. What at­tracted you to this method of teach­ing? DM: I ini­tially learned how to be a web de­signer largely through a com­bi­na­tion of school and read­ing books and blog posts. But what I’m find­ing in teach­ing a younger gen­er­a­tion of de­sign­ers and de­vel­op­ers is that they’re less in­ter­ested in books and ar­ti­cles than they are in video tu­to­ri­als. I haven’t had good luck in find­ing a lot of great video re­sources, so I fig­ured I could have a hand in cre­at­ing some my­self. What was it like film­ing the course? Is it re­ally as easy as you make it look? DM: Haha, it’s def­i­nitely not as easy as it looks! There’s lots of prep and edit­ing and back and forth that goes into mak­ing some­thing even short. That said, the Skill­share team made it su­per easy for me to ex­e­cute. Once we had the main con­tent and struc­ture to­gether, the film­ing part was pretty stream­lined be­cause they made it re­ally straight­for­ward in what we needed to cap­ture. You can sign up to ‘Dig­i­tal De­sign: Cre­at­ing De­sign Sys­tems for Eas­ier, Bet­ter & Faster De­sign’ at skl.sh/su­perfriendly

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