Top 5 Design Systems Evolving the Digital Experience

Susan Yang RGD, Creative Director at Boldsquare Creative Studio, shares a list of five modern design systems designers can access for reference and inspiration.


The following design systems focus on building an evolving foundation of shared processes, methodologies, design principles and resources that drive efficiency, consistency and innovation. Each example collectively designs for the future, where a shared design language incorporates a human-centred approach and creates a coherent ecosystem of products and applications for their brand.

As designers, we can access these design systems as inspirational references for our own design decisions when building dynamic digital experiences, integrating accessibility and improving workflow. The resources provided by these design systems are comprehensive and can be downloaded and integrated into applications such as Adobe, Sketch and Figma.


Carbon Design System by IBM


IBM’s open source Carbon Design System provides pre-built universal assets and guidance for digital experiences. The design system features UI and brand kits, data visualization, patterns, interface components and brand guidelines for designers and developers. The tools and resources focus on IBM’s design philosophy of continual progress and responsibility to apply and improve the human condition both emotionally and functionally. You can use this as a reference guide to help create compelling visual cohesiveness when scaling for a brand.


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Material Design 3 by Google


Google’s Material Design 3 (aka Material You) is an adaptable design system that unifies the user experience across platforms and devices. This system provides, for designers and developers, a comprehensive set of guidelines, compositions, components, animations and tools which lay out a foundation for innovation and brand expression.

You can make use of and reference these components to create responsive and highly accessible user interfaces and apps — that explore a more humanistic approach to design that embraces emotion and hyper-personalization.


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Fluent Design System by Microsoft 


Microsoft’s Fluent Design System is an ecosystem of design tools and open source components that provides a framework to build engaging, intuitive and immersive product experiences across platforms. The core foundation of the system is inclusive design and learning from diversity — with a range of perspectives, cross-platform, accessible and responsive. Designers and developers can reference the system’s toolkits and guides for designing and building apps that are functionally unified. The collection of frameworks focuses on five building blocks that help to create coherent, adaptive products — light, depth, motion, material and scale.


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Human Interface Guidelines by Apple


Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) offers guidance, best practices and a starting point for when you’re making design decisions for app design and development on Apple’s platforms. The in-depth information centres on a philosophy that is inclusive by design — all perspectives arise from human characteristics and experiences that we all share as empathetic connections. HIG has extensive resources that include toolkits, themes, design templates, production templates and guides.


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Lightning Design System by Salesforce


Salesforce’s Lightning Design System includes resources and guidelines to create consistent and compelling user experiences, interactions and flows. The underlying design principles for the system are built on these core principles and factors in every design decision: Clarity, Efficiency, Consistency and Beauty. For creating user interfaces such as for content management systems or analytics platforms, the available resources and guidelines include cross-browser compatibility, accessible markup, component blueprints, design tokens and implementation guidelines.
Susan Yang RGD is a multi-disciplinary designer and strategist with 15+ years of experience leading cross-functional teams and delivering strategic solutions. Over the years, she has worked with a diverse roster of clients and brands in several industries. Her expertise covers multiple disciplines including concept development, branding, design and implementation of digital experiences, photography, video production, building efficient design systems and integrating accessibility best practices into business workflows. With end-to-end execution, she effectively translates brands and business objectives that shape and innovate. With every project, Susan gives detailed focus, quality output and fresh perspectives.