Many companies make use of design systems or common component libraries to make it easier for teams to develop consistent design solutions. This two minute clip from my Mind the Gap presentation looks at why pulling a few off-the-shelf design components from a library is not the same thing as creating a good user experience.
In an effort to scale the impact of design teams, many companies are investing in design systems or common components to make it easy for teams to apply similar solutions. And it's common for me to hear refrains like, well, the design is like that because I was just following the guidelines.
But pulling a few off-the-shelf design components from a library is not the same thing as creating a good user experience.
For example, Jet Radar, a flight search engine, makes use of material design guidelines in their product. They've used material design input fields in the design of their form and material design floating action buttons for their primary call to action. But you don't have to be a UX expert to see that the end result is not particularly great.
Labels and input text is duplicated. What looks like inputs are actually hint text. What looks like hint text is actually labels. Comments are scattered across the page. And the primary action, frankly, just looks like a bug.
Jet Radar's most recent design is much more approachable to people, though I could quibble with some of what they do. The point is, simply applying a style guide or design components doesn't ensure your product design works well. In fact, it could have the opposite effect.
Now in fairness, material design actually has updated both of the guidelines I showed earlier to try and cover cases like this. Always be learning. But the point still stands.
There's more to making a holistic user experience than applying guidelines to mockups. And while design systems have great aims, they can quickly become another reason for applying a specific solution for the sake of consistency.
As we just saw, just because something's consistent doesn't necessarily mean it's good.