A Case For Design Tokens

How do we solve big problems? We break them down into smaller ones. And each of these smaller problems have their own, tiny solution. So we go down the line finding little solutions to our little problems, one after another. Until soon enough, we realize we've solved enough little problems that we've reached our original goal and solved our big problem!

Designers and developers, you know what I mean.

Think of the last big thing you designed. The last big thing you coded. It took several little steps and areas of focus before you got to a place where you could give it the chef's kiss and say "It's finished. And it's beautiful."

So when I hear a company is struggling with "design consistency", "designer-developer synchronization", "design system governance"... these are BIG problems. And they're hard ones.

But just because they're big problems, doesn't mean they need one big solution. Instead, let's solve these problems like we solve all of our big problems: with a bunch of smaller, more manageable answers.

In my opinion, the big problems I listed and several other organizational issues can be solved with the same little solution: design tokens.

For those of you that humorously just blew a little extra air out of your nose, let me elaborate.

Design tokens are not just variables. They're a new way of thinking. They break big, complex decisions into small, manageable answers. They push modularity and reusability to the extreme.

And most beautifully of all, they can be whatever you need them to be.


This is the beginning of a series I'll be writing on design tokens. More to come...