Is Figma the Best Tool to Make a Design System?

Feb 16, 2023Martín Etchegoyen

Figma has advanced elements that are tailored to meet expectations for consistency during the design process, including a design system. It is common knowledge among designers that a good design system can greatly impact the quality of products you ship and the pace at which you can develop them. As the case for creating a complete design system has been made clear many times over, with companies like Google, IBM, and others using them to create better products at a greater pace, the question has changed. Now people do not wonder why should they have a design system anymore, but how can they create a great design system.

Then what precisely is a design system? It is something like a collection of reusable components, guided by clear standards, that can be made to build any number of applications. A design system may include not only a UI component library and a pattern library, but a style guide, best practices, code, and more stuff. Just like an architect’s blueprint for a building, a design system also serves as the single source of truth for the product team while building products, as well as helping to keep the consistency going.

Design System

For example, GitHub has even gone so far as to share its Figma component library, which is a great example of a Figma-based design system. More extensive tools like Storybook and Component-Driven Development are also intensely useful resources for implementing and documenting a design system. These systems also maintain design consistency and should be useful to everyone involved in creating a product. It is a toolkit that helps designers create new screens, flows, and prototypes quickly. A good design system helps developers understand the logic behind design conclusions, and helps to create a more cohesive product. It speeds up the design process and allows designers more time for experimentation.

Design System 101

Furthermore, a design system is known also as a living style guide that is both collaborative and code-connected. It is not just a style guide where designers are the only contributors, but it is shared across the whole team, including designers, developers, product managers, etc. As a result, the design system should be cohesive, dynamic, reusable, and maintainable both in design and code.

For instance, It can start with the styles and components in Figma, then move its way into the team library to finally become code components that exist in a place that is easy to reference, contribute to, and version controlled, like a git repository. A design system is composed of all the elements in your final app. These elements should be cleanly organized into styles and components that are referenced in a single source of truth inside a separate document. This document should be easy to maintain by anyone on your team.

Design System

If your developers are involved in Figma, you can share your Design System file as a Web URL. If you make a site as well, you can use Live Embeds to reflect all the changes flawlessly to your site. As a final step, as you empower your designers to contribute code, it is best to recreate all the components in the code and show the code samples.

Using a design system like a toolkit is a great litmus test for its usefulness. If multiple designers use it regularly in order to speed up their process, then it is doing a good job. If developers can reference it for colors, and typestyles, or to do work with less input from designers, that is also a good sign. It is generally not helpful to include highly complex components that may only be used once or twice in the product. The more reusable something is, the more it belongs in a design system. Figma recently released design system analytics for organizations, where teams can see how effectively different parts of a design system are and help optimize it.

Why Is Figma the Best for Creating a Design System

Figma is a powerful design tool with many great features, but there is a subset of elements that become especially useful when designing a complex product, which are styles, components, and library files. These features help keep design systems up to date, help maintain consistency between designs, and provide a shortcut for correcting multiple designs from a central location.


Styles are colors and typestyles, which are as well as font, size, weight, etc, that are defined in one place and can be applied to many objects. Then, components are things like buttons or chat bubbles and can be built from styles, known as objects such as shapes and text, and other components. Moreover, Figma has collaboration and sharing at its core. Design files can be edited by anyone in the browser, shared freely, and updated in real-time as multiple users can edit them at the same time. This opens up the design system to more efficient collaboration not only between designers but also between developers and other stakeholders.

Organization of a Design System

The foundation of your design system set the tone of your design language. It is key to formulate the context for the branding, clearly indicating how your logo should be used properly. Also, you should set the main colors, typography, and grids.

In Figma, most of the foundation elements are set in the styles, which contain colors, including gradients and images, text, and even effects. You can make them readily available as a library. As you develop your design, you can set these styles in your inspector, for things like text, fill, stroke, or effects.

Finally, when constructing a design system in Figma, it is useful to draw parallels between the tools and the theory. A simple Figma component would be considered an atom in the Atomic Design model. A more complex Figma component would be considered a molecule or organism, which is then used to construct templates and pages.

Final Thoughts

Now is up to you to test out Figma for making a design system and it is your choice to see if you consider Figma the best tool for it or if you think that another one can do it in a better and more efficient way.

Martín Etchegoyen

Martín Etchegoyen

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