4 ways that an enterprise design system can help your career as a UX designer

Chris LaChance, 6 minutes read

If you’re a UX/UI designer who’s skeptical about Pega Cosmos, you might be thinking that your organization doesn’t need an out-of-the-box design system for your Pega application. So, when your boss asks you what you think about Cosmos, you might say: “Oh, we certainly don’t need an OOTB design system. We can keep it in-house!”

But in the back of your mind, you might also be thinking:

  • “What am I going to do with my time, if not design patterns and components?”
  • “This is going to restrict my creative freedom, or it won’t be flexible enough for our needs.”
  • And, last but not least: “But—but—what if it just looks bad, and will make me look bad?”

We hear you. And we want to show that not only will Pega’s design system make your internal stakeholders happy, but it can also help your own career.

That’s right. Using an out-of-the-box design system created specifically for enterprise apps, like Pega Cosmos, can help you become better at your job—by helping you stay user-focused, making your job easier to do, helping you to become more marketable as an enterprise designer, and ultimately allowing you to be a more strategic contributor to any organization.

Let’s unpack each of these.  

1. A design system forces you to become more user-focused by shifting your attention to user-driven problems

As a UX/UI designer, you’re actually in the unique position of interfacing between your company and its users. You know—more than many other roles in your company—how user experience can impact people’s perception of your product and brand. But you often don’t have time to think about user needs, right? You’re often working on pixel problems. For example, you might be designing a button in a modal and spending a lot of time thinking about where it should go: on the bottom right of a modal? Bottom left? Center? What about color?

So what happens when you’re stuck on surface-level design problems? All of those seemingly small design decisions take up a lot of your time and mental energy.

The reality is that you don’t have this extra time, and the button is really a distraction. You want to be talking about what’s actually in the modal and where the user is in their current flow. Do they even need this modal? Are there too many steps, or is something unclear? Are you building for the right user persona?

When you use a design system like Cosmos, you’re not constrained by the many small decisions like button placement and coloring. They’ve already been made, so you can focus on perfecting the flow,  understanding your users better, and actually building.

2. A design system makes your job easier by making it faster to prototype and review designs

At its core, a design system makes your job as a designer of enterprise applications easier. First, a system gets you to a baseline starting point quickly, allowing you to spin up designs fast. The Cosmos design system includes a library of Sketch assets, as well as templates for you to work with directly. You can use drag-and-drop functionalities to create screens to show your stakeholders. And you can rest assured that the system has guardrails in place to help you create something that will work well with the rest of the system and will integrate into the backend technical infrastructure. (Don’t forget, it’s already got accessibility best practices built-in, too—so you can feel good about your application being optimized for all types of users.)

If the case creation part of your job becomes easier, you can do more and faster. And with the consent of your organization, you may not even need to get every UI improved; instead, you can focus on how you put it all together and on ideation. That’s why we sometimes call Cosmos a “builder kit”—where you don’t need to worry about each room’s décor; worry about the room’s purpose in the house, and the décor will come naturally.

3. A design system helps you become more marketable as a UX/UI professional by improving your cross-functional collaboration and positioning your expertise in enterprise design

Becoming a Cosmos designer up-levels your skills. It shows your team and other organizations that you are more than a visual designer. By mastering the use of a design system like Cosmos, you can illustrate that you are also a cross-functional team member that can speak to both users and engineering and understand how the patterns and components tie back to data and technical architecture. In a dynamic and ever-interdisciplinary hiring environment, you begin to have more breadth and scope in your professional purview.

Cosmos is a system of communication between design and engineering that adds scalability, maintainability, speed, and accuracy of implementation. As organizations pivot to go to market faster, they increasingly value employees that work well cross-functionally. At the same time, design organizations want to retain their commitment to user-centricity and responsiveness to user needs. If you know how to work with Cosmos, you also know how to liaise with many stakeholder groups and balance their competing interests in service of delivering software that meets and exceeds user needs.

Proficiency in Cosmos also helps you stand out among other designers. Enterprise design experience is another factor that organizations must prioritize as business systems grow to be increasingly complex. Enterprise design is different from consumer design in many ways. Business requirements differ from requirements for end customers; enterprise end users require different design strategies, as they see a lot more information on a screen than end customers do. In a professional environment, interactions differ as well.  People will be using your software for 8+ hours a day—and your fluency in systemic design thinking specifically for enterprise is a huge boon to your candidacy at large organizations.

So go ahead, put that on your resume!

4. A design system teaches you to be strategic

The best designers don’t design for the sake of design. They know that their job is much more than visual: it’s visual combined with strategy. That means thinking about

  • how to scale your work and maintain it;
  • how to work across multiple devices and channels, quickly;
  • how to know the business well enough to understand your stakeholders and feedback loops; and
  • how to balance all of that against the always-on priority of advocacy for user needs, elegance and simplicity.

The value that you bring to the UX team is not in designing screens; it’s in your ability to combine all of the above in the specific environment of building for professional users in a complex, multi-faceted systems environment.

That environment is challenging, and not every design system is optimized for it. But Cosmos is.

So let the Cosmos design system take on the baseline work while you flex your strategy skills. You’re the visual relationship-builder. The user-driven consultant. The liaison between users, stakeholders, engineers. The iterative visual architect.

Cosmos is built to help both you and your company scale. So own your role, and your career, by relying on a system that will help you grow and improve, along with the software that you build.

 

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About the Author

Chris LaChance is Design Ops Lead at Pegasystems