Unfinished Design System

Chongchi Zhang
4 min readOct 15, 2020


Before my 30th birthday, COVID-19 is still raging hard in the US, and the US presidential election remains unknown for the future of our lives. The world seems to be chaotic so that I only want to put my head down and focus on my own life, things that I have control over like the work and the school. However, things go contrary to one’s wishes. Mass unemployment hit me — hit the work that I committed to and passionate about.

My vision for the design system

Five days ago, the design system team happily released version 0.5.0, which was the 15th release we had since I joined the team. Over the year at the design system team, we learned, we grew, and we improved. I started to have a vision of a mature design system in another year.

  • I could imagine that the design system team would grow to have four core members, two designers, one developer, and one leader.
  • We would tackle tasks like a squad team using an agile framework to build the design system just like other kick-ass products in the market — Adobe Spectrum for design and Bootstrap for development.
  • We would also together complain about the design tools’ competition in the market and hope one day that the design tools would be unified with all the loved features like real-time collaboration, version control, powerful symbol overrides, flexible components, content support, accessibility checks, and great design token support.
  • I would challenge the developer that the responsible table is hard, but we would need to support it at some point, so let’s do it now!
  • We would also have a mature contribution model where we would work with designers and developers from each product team because the relationship is the key to a connected design and development ecosystem.
  • In addition to that, subsystems in each team would grow more mature than ever because that’s the only sustainable way to grow a complex design system structure in an organization that has many siloed product teams.
  • We would also run workshops for designers to demo what we created and what to expect next. A feedback loop would be essential.
  • There would be some giveaway stickers that have the shape of the buttons, text input, radio buttons, checkboxes, etc., so the designers could quickly create paper prototypes with the stickers to be more engaged with the design system team while we can promote our work in a fun way.

The reason that my vision for the design system is so rich is that I started thinking about it even before I started being a product designer at the design system team.

Pre design system

In 2016, I was so lucky that I was able to find my first job after my graduation as a UX developer. I learned the full software development workflow and practiced the agile methodology while wearing multiple hats: doing design, development, and QA. However, from the bottom of my heart, I knew design is still my dream, and I would love to take on challenges and work through all the difficulties through the lens of design. So I decided to look for a new opportunity to fulfill my wish.

At the end of two-month job hunting, I received two offers. One offered better compensation while another one had a better team structure. I took a shot at the design system team which had a better team because I wanted to take that as an opportunity to grow with the team while building a kick-ass design system together. As soon as I made my commitment to it, I started preparing it by attending a NN/g confluence where it talked about the Design System, which I didn’t have much experience in the beginning. I spent after work hours to go to the Design System meet-ups so that I could bring more learnings back to the team to grow. I’m now also taking the HCI graduate program not only for myself but also for the work. All the commitments and the efforts have been made because I love what I do and I appreciate being a part of it.

Moving forward with love

However, now my vision for the design system is never going to happen with my presence because of this hard stop, but I truly believe this could happen and will happen as the team grows. And I am sorry that I couldn’t make my vision come true while my presence because I had such ambition to take the design system to a new level.

I’d like to take some time here to say thank you to my teammates and also say goodbye to the design system that I worked on, committed to, passionate about, and loved. Without this team, we couldn’t go this far. I enjoyed every minute of this journey even though it’s been a difficult one, but we accomplished a lot, didn’t we? I hope the design system will continue to grow with all the love.

2020 is a year we all learn and grow with uncertainty, instead of hating it, I’d like to embrace it and look forward to the future with love just like how I am going to embrace my 30s. Happy birthday Joey in two months and go Dough Design System!

Brikk. (2017, March 30). Camps [Gif]. http://gph.is/2ocNKR7