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How To Create a Web Design System for Your Website

Last Updated: August 12, 2022

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Websites require design teams for successful creation and launch, where documentation is needed to guide your team and to provide everyone with a consistent experience.

Whether you’re building a new website, or undertaking a website redesign, making a design system will help you stay on track.

When it comes to building a design system, consistency is key and is no different from web design, especially when it comes to the design structure of blog content.


What is a Web Design System?

Design systems are a set of patterns or standards that are consistently used throughout your website’s pages or blog posts. These are created and guided by the requirements of your blog content and even the overall branding for your company.

Essentially, your design system will be a collection of reusable parts for your blog content that will allow your team to get work done faster and more efficiently.

A design system should be the ultimate resource center for your production team that will allow them to keep creating and developing your blog content.

However, many designers will find what exactly they need to include in their design systems. While every organization has different needs, there are a few elements that every content design will need, including:

Patterns and Components

Components refer to the functional elements of your design: think of them as the building blocks of your design systems.

When combined, all of the components you have will form a library that your designers can go back to and use whenever they need to create products. Patterns can provide you with a set of protocols that can form a construction manual for your designers to look into when they need to use components.

Design Principles

Design principles refer to the guiding rules that can help your team make the right design decisions. Your design principles will also reflect your whole team’s shared beliefs about content aesthetics.

Style Guides

Your style guide will refer to the deliverables that revolve around the graphics used in your content, including fonts, colors, and illustrations. A style guide needs to be formulated around your brand values—for example, the use of functional elements like a call-to-action button.


Why is a Website Design System Important?

There are numerous reasons and advantages to creating a design system for your ecommerce website, small business website, or enterprise website, but these are the most important:

Keep Everything Similar

Why Is a Website Design System Important

When you keep everything similar, your blog readers will thank you for it. Consistency is important—using the same elements throughout your website will provide users with a better browsing experience.

Because your loyal customers already know what to expect from your website, products, and services, it’s important to be able to deliver the same experience every time.

By using the same components, you will be able to provide viewers with consistency and quality wherever they go to find you. Doing this will also help to decrease the bounce rate, which means that people will stay on your website longer and will be more likely to purchase your product or service.

Visually Appealing

Whether you have a WordPress, Wix, Webflow, Drupal, or Shopify website, an effective design system can help to keep everything in your website or blog visually appealing and familiar to your visitors, making it easier and faster for them to navigate.

By breaking your design elements down into smaller and individualized pieces, having a design system will make the entire process more efficient. Planning, developing, and testing all components ensures that they have uniformity and are streamlined to reduce the amount of work that goes into them.


How to Create a Web Design System for Blog Content?

What If I’m Starting With Nothing?

The first step is to not panic.

Start by evaluating what your content already has and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which elements work well?
  • Which elements are you happy with?
  • What would you like replaced?
  • Are there inconsistencies between the products or pages?

Be sure to review every digital asset you have and look through all of the existing reference materials. It will also help to look at other companies within your industry and see what they are doing.

Look for any established patterns then decide if you would like to do something similar or if you want to change things up to be a stand-out industry leader.

Your end goal is to make a resource library and universal guidebook that your team can go back to and use whenever needed. It should contain everything you need to create your content and consist of the following:

  • Your brand colors and how they are used
  • Text choices such as your fonts, grammar selections, voice, and other specialized components of the text.
  • Icon libraries
  • Photo libraries, both custom and stock
  • Other graphics, such as your logo — be sure to reevaluate your logo if you’re unsure of your current one
  • UI patterns—be sure to take note of which ones need an update
  • Themes and page templates

If you have a startup website and you don’t currently have any finalized design elements, now is the time to critically think about each area to determine which options best suit your brand.

You’ll have time to start a master list later, so it will benefit you to decide on more important elements now.

Know Your Audience and Set Objectives

Know Your Audience and Set Objectives

This is by far the most important process of creating your whole content design, and everything will be for nothing if you don’t fully understand your audience and what drives you.

Start by setting clear and direct goals for your team and ask yourself important questions such as:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What will appeal to them?
  • What are your business objectives?
  • What makes your company different?
  • What kind of reaction do you want in response to your content?
  • How will viewers interact with your blog content and website?

Using these questions and doing your research will help you determine the objectives you need to set for your blog content. The answers you get from these questions will help you determine your goals.

Go through your analytics and see how long your target audience usually takes to read your content and find out what they’re looking for or what they’re hoping to get from reading your blog.

Assess the Current Situation of Your Web Design System

To fully understand your current website design system, and what you would like to adapt it to, you first have to start reviewing your company’s current design approach and choices.

The best way to do this is to once honestly answer questions such as:

  • What are the existing tools currently used by your company?
  • What are the details behind these design processes?
  • What are the current design processes being followed by your company?
  • What kind of tools is your company currently using to achieve these results?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be able to get a clear understanding of where your company stands and where you can take it from there.

It’s also recommended that you evaluate the level of your product teams’ design maturity. Having this knowledge will allow you to estimate how much time you need to introduce the new system to your company.

During this time, it will also help to look at your branding and to ask yourself more questions, including:

  • What is your brand?
  • What is your content?
  • What are your brand guidelines?

Make sure that you’re telling your audience a coherent story that is consistent throughout all your blogs.

Define Your Look and Feel

Define Your Look and Feel

When you’re trying to determine the look and feel of your blog, ask yourself how you want to be perceived. Fun and light? High-end? Technical?

Visual design decisions can sway the viewer’s perception in a variety of ways, so you may want to use illustrations, photography, or a combination of both.

But as a pro tip, we suggest picking one direction or the other instead of both.

This will ultimately allow your content to seem more consistent and take some variation out of the equation.

Note that the “voice” you take will serve as the personality of your company and will be the character that your brand takes on. The tone of your writing will reflect the mood you’re trying to send your readers and could change based on the context.

For example, the tone of your writing for a concert will be different from a topic such as vacuum cleaners.

Decide on Your Process

Ask yourself how your content will be created: will you have everything done by your team or will you look to hire someone to create the content for you? Because writing is a technical profession, it’s essential to stick to the rules.

Be sure to think about the following:

  • Banned and preferred keywords and phrases
  • Specific terminology that your company uses
  • Mechanical and grammar issues

Depending on the nature of your company, you may or may not have a wide range of terminologies—you may or may not need to use different words to describe one thing.

To help your team manage, you can determine which specific words and terms you need to use while trying to stick to these throughout all your channels and blogs to provide a smooth and coherent experience.

James square

“A well-thought design system can help brands expand and adapt their digital experiences with little effort. However, if little effort is put into the design system, a brand will struggle to expand consistently.”

– James Utkovic, Creative Director

Define All the Formats You Need

By having a well-made design, you can simply drag and drop each component you have right into a new blog. The more assets you’re able to clearly define, the faster your workflow for future projects will be.

Don’t forget to include the appropriate documentation that your team may need—even small inclusions will be a huge help during a new development stage.

At a minimum, your website design system should plan for:

  • Post thumbnails
  • Featured images
  • Section headings
  • Icons
  • Embedded content

Make sure that each format is accounted for, and that all of them have a united thread.

Create Reusable Components

You can make life easier by creating reusable components that can be easily pulled, reworked, and used in each piece of content.

This could be saved items such as:

  • Quoted texts
  • Pro-tips
  • Chapter headings
  • Calls to action
  • Forms
  • Email sign-ups

These are key components that can be used over and over again and can elevate your blog content by making it more engaging and interesting to read.


Make sure your actual design tool, whether that be Photoshop, Illustrator, Canva, or something else, has pre-made templates added to it to ensure team members can easily pull the right file.


Add Guidelines Within Your Brand Book

This is an important step in creating a complete design system; documentation and standards are what separate a pattern library from a true design system.

Before beginning work on your design system, take a moment to think about the team you’ll need to bring it to life.

Who needs to be involved? More often than not, you’ll need more than just designers.

Develop the right set of guidelines to improve your blog quality and output, while also limiting costs in the long run.

What Guidelines to Include?

Add Guidelines Within Your Brand Book

Without a clear guideline on how to build a design system and when to use design elements, you’ll be left with nothing but libraries and elements.

As you make your design system, make sure that you document the shared practices that your whole team can use that can be duplicated and maintained.

Things that you can include in your documentation process include:

  • How members of your team can contribute to the system
  • How they can report issues with the system design blog
  • How your team can address any maintenance issues
  • How you can stay consistent with the design and content

It’s also best to keep examples of the various versions of individual elements of your blog such as inner post content, featured images, section banners, and more.


Wrapping Up

Creating design systems doesn’t have to be difficult; it all depends on the branding of your company, and consistency is key.

Remember that making reusable components can help save time in the future and will help you stay consistent for each blog post.

Moreover, it will be useful to create a brand book with guidelines to convey key expectations of how your content should be presented.

By putting all these to work, you’ll be able to prepare for your future blogs to deliver a better and smoother user experience.

Meet The Author

Jeff Gapinski is the President of Huemor where he helps plan the long-term strategic growth of the agency. Jeff is passionate about UI/UX, demand generation, and digital strategy.

Originally Published

June 27, 2022

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