The design system mindset

There’s so much truth to this tweet by Masato:

At face value, design system jobs look quite similar to other design/development jobs; designers use design tools to design stuff and developers use front-end code to build stuff.

Design systems work requires a different mindset than design/development work that’s focused on building user-facing software. It’s different! Not better, not worse. But different.

There are people who like to design and build houses. There are people who like to design and build power tools and building materials that are wielded when creating houses.

There are people who like to write and record music. And there are people who like to design and build musical instruments, hardware, and software to enable the writing and recording of music.

There are thankfully surgeons who like to cut people open and save lives. And there are people who create medical instruments, materials, processes, and critical infrastructure so that those surgeons can safely and successfully save peoples’ lives.

System-minded folks operate differently than other product-minded folks. Again, different. Not better, not worse. Both perspectives are important and valuable. But coming back to Masato’s tweet, it all kinda gets kludged together from a job-description perspective. So you end up with people showing up to a job interview (or in a lot of cases, to an actual job!) thinking they’re going to be hanging drywall when in fact the job entails designing and manufacturing a drywall product. Yes, it’s all drywall, but it’s working with it in totally different ways!