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Marketing Design Dispatch

Getting out of a design system funk

Published 9 months ago • 5 min read

Issue #112

Oh hey there, Reader.

You might notice this issue has some visual updates!

I've created a new template using the new email designer that the wonderful product & engineering folks at ConvertKit have been working on for a while. We've also launched a marketplace where you'll find a bunch of templates designed by creators that you can use for your emails (including one designed by yours truly!) Check it out here if you're a fellow designer/newsletter writer :)

In this weeks issue I'm sharing:

  • The truth about why there's been no new videos in my design system series for a while and giving you some advice for getting un-stuck if you're in a similar situation.
  • A must-listen podcast episode about leveling-up a brand
  • Some visual inspiration to start your week on an inspiring note!

Let's jump in.

Getting un-stuck with our design system project

Back in May 2022 I uploaded the first episode in my marketing site design system series. My goal was to document the process as I worked with my team at ConvertKit to build a system and create alignment between Figma and our codebase for convertkit.com.

Since that first video, only two more episodes have been released in the past year.

Because, quite frankly, we haven't made much progress 😬

A design system is a huge project! With so many parts to it. That we need to fit in around other important projects as a small team. We know we want to invest time into building it, but it's hard to actually make that happen when you're spinning lots of other plates and fighting fires and whatever other metaphors you want to use as an excuse...

Because (as valid as that excuse is) if I'm honest with myself, the main reason we haven't gotten very far is overwhelm.

Config and learning about the new Figma features for design systems got me fired up though (read my event review here!). I was determined to make progress and I turned to Dan Mall's Config talk "Your Next Component", because I knew it was about how to make the decision of what component to tackle next. Exactly the thing I've been struggling with!

There's a moment in the talk where Dan asks:

What should the first component in your design system be?

The answer that came to my mind? Button.

It's useful, right? So probably should be the one that's tackled first. It's one of the only components we actually have in our system so far (even if we have refactored it several times already).

Well, Dan described starting with a button as "the single biggest misstep that leads to design system ghost towns and graveyards."

Oh.

I did not expect to feel so called out by a conference talk 😅

Everything Dan went on to say though made total sense. He talks about the importance of instead starting with something that connects to your goals and gets everyone fired up so that you can start building precious momentum and getting buy-in. It was a seriously great talk, you should go watch it!

Hearing Dan's perspective made me realise that as well as overwhelm, momentum and motivation were also a problem for us. We work through complex, overwhelming challenges all the time but without an urgent deadline to meet, getting into motion on our design system project feels extra difficult.

So, as Creative Director, I knew I had to be the one to get the ball rolling.

I booked a meeting. Made a FigJam. And we had a super productive session following advice from Dan's talk of setting goals for our design system and cataloguing potential components.

Which one are we actually going to get started with though?

I'll make you wait til the next episode in the series for the answer to that! Which, now that we have some momentum, will be out sooner rather than later.

It feels great to be making progress! Small steps. But progress all the same.

If you're currently stuck in a project, whether it's a design system like me or something else entirely, I hope you can break through it soon and get going again. Take that first step and start building momentum.

Help me create a sales page

I soft-launched a ticket presale for my "Crafting your personal brand as a designer" workshop in the last issue and on Twitter last week. Thanks to everyone who has already bought a ticket!

I'll be working on a full sales page for it in the coming weeks and I wondered if you could help me out by replying and letting me know what questions you have about the workshop that I should make sure I address.

What would prevent you from buying a ticket? What would you need to know about the workshop to make the purchase a no-brainer? What will you be hoping to get out of attending, based on the information I've shared so far?

Please reply and let me know! 🙏

Find out more about it below:

$39.00

$29.00

The Crafting a Personal Brand Workshop

What does it actually mean to "level up" a brand?

I asked Dan Edwards of Snyk this question in the latest episode of Inside Marketing Design, and I loved his response!

Check it out for yourself by searching for "Inside Marketing Design" in your podcast feed, or watching the video:

video preview

Okay okay fine I'll give you a hint: the word "immersive" was used a lot.

Dan has worked through a lot of similar challenges to the ones I'm facing at ConvertKit, so I learned a lot from this episode and I hope you will too!

Let's end today's issue with some visual inspo from Dani Balenson

😍 The color palette. The shapes 👏

See you next week,

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Marketing Design Dispatch

by Charli Marie

Join 17,000+ creatives receiving insider insights about brand and marketing design – featuring landing page and rebrand breakdowns, useful career content, and a behind-the-scenes look at running a Brand Studio team in tech.

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