Meghan Rosatelli and Saejin Choi from Capital One: Navigating design system convergence, adoption, and contribution simultaneously

Meghan Rosatelli and Saejin Choi join Chris to discuss transitioning multiple design systems into one, shifting system consumers’ mindset from working with a local system to working with a global system, and using play to drive excitement and adoption of a design system.

June 6, 2022
by
Ryan Peterson

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Chris Strahl:

Hey, everybody, this is Chris with the Design Systems Podcast. Today, I'm here with Meghan Rosatelli and Saejin Choi. Collectively, they represent the leads of the design system at Capital One. Meghan leads from the design side and, Saejin, you're the experience lead. Welcome to the program, really glad you guys are here.

Meghan Rosatelli:

Thanks.

Saejin Choi:

Yeah, thanks. Thanks for having us.

Chris Strahl:

So, the design system at Capital One has this interesting evolution it's gone through. And this is the narrative that we want to have today where you guys had this initial conception of what the design system was going to be and then, ultimately, through a tangled web that we'll unpack, we got to the point where this actually ended up supplanting five other design systems and becoming the system of record for the entire organization. I really want to hone in on that process and, in particular, how that affected the people that were consuming and using this design system and then how you've begun to transition in this place from adoption into a lot of contribution. In particular, what does this journey look like for somebody at Capital One that you were creating this system for?

Meghan Rosatelli:

Yeah, we're still pretty early on in this process. So, we say about five design systems, probably five just really solid design systems. I probably find out about a new design system every two or three weeks. I'll get a Slack message and someone's like, "Hey, I'm so and so, and I lead the design system for this pocket of the company." So, one point, I think we counted 12, we have probably four or five that have teams behind them that are pretty solid. And then we have the enterprise design system that Saejin and I are on. So, we're at this process where we know we need to converge, the enterprise design system is functioning, it's stood up but we are in the simultaneous convergence and adoption and contribution space all happening at the same time.

Saejin Choi:

Yeah, and part of that is teaching these users of these other design systems that had been built. And by the way, they were built out of necessity because there wasn't necessarily an enterprise wide global design system that existed at the time. So, at a necessity and just because the location that they were on and the product they were working on, they built these design systems and they had to teach their designers and developers working on that specific set to use system. So, a lot of the communication that we've been working on now is trying to shift their mindset from working on this local system to a broader converged system and getting everybody ready for that.

Chris Strahl:

Yeah, I don't think that's altogether uncommon because it's very rare to see a design systems initiative happen at a global or company wide scale at first. It's almost always some pocket or some insurgent group inside of an organization that is just fed up with the way things have been built in the past and are like, "Ah, yeah, we're going to move to a design system," and, inevitably, lots of people reach this idea at this serendipitous moment across the organization. So, I think that it's relatively common to see these design systems spring up all over an organization.

You guys happen to be in the unique position where, working on a global design system, you now have this interesting problem space of how do I build a system for everybody? And then, also, how do I take these people that have built these systems that are honestly very attached to them and start to think about how you get alignment around that. And you guys have a bunch of apps but it's also all centered around one single brand that is Capital One. And so, how do you approach that problem space as you started to understand the role of the global design system within this ecosystem

Meghan Rosatelli:

Yeah, the space is pretty big. So, we have, probably, 80 plus products, platforms and applications that the design system has to serve. We have about 700 plus designers, thousands of engineers, tens of millions of active monthly users, so the space is big. Most teams have local, pretty reliable solutions, they're good. They figured out their world and they're rocking and rolling. And I think, as we started this process, and Saejin and I have been around Capital One for a while, the team we've put together has been around Capital One for a while, we've all been on the other side of the fence where we're just like, "Yeah, we don't need other people telling us how to design stuff, we're good. They don't know my special space, they don't know the design problems we're trying to solve for our users." So, there's a lot of empathy in how teams, I think, initially approached the concept of an enterprise-wide design system which is, I think, more around like, "Cool, we're good. Thanks."

Chris Strahl:

Right. I think there's this just human nature at play of I want this federated model, right? Maybe, sure, I want to have some central brand guideline or whatever but I really want to be able to own my own space and my own way of thinking about design either inside of my app team or my business unit. And you guys have done a really good job of thinking about the emotional stakes associated with that transition and, not just the idea of how does this disrupt a workflow or what kind of change management do we think about it as an organizational level, but like you said, that empathetic angle towards, "Hey, I've been there. I've been in this position where somebody is telling me how to do my job or trying to infringe upon something that I've built and I've put a lot of effort into." How do you approach those kind of conversations?

Saejin Choi:

It's tough, obviously, anybody that's tried to do this before has understood it's very tough trying to create something that's cohesive as a global design system for a gigantic company like Capital One, right? But we always true back to the idea that everyone gets it, everyone on the other local teams, they understand do we really need three separate design systems for a singular product currently because you're in a specific location or you have a specific initiative with this product, right? Everyone agrees that that makes sense, but then, you start peeling the layers back and you realize how freaking hard it is to converge and open up your world to all of these teams that have been doing the same thing as you but haven't been working with.

So, it's like you have these initiatives within your own area but then you're, all of a sudden, asked to open up your entire world to collaborate with a team that grows to five times the size of the team you're used to. So, like Meghan mentioned, our whole goal is just to let them understand that we understand it's incredibly difficult to think about it this broadly and it's incredibly emotional trying to think about how to converge these systems together and hold hands and kumbaya everybody together.

Chris Strahl:

Well, you have a tremendous amount of diversity also, right? It's rare that you have a global system that represents every possible pattern or component inside of a company. And so, there is still that need for something that happens at that more localized level that does have an ownership associated with it because that's how you represent the diversity of the organization. Going back to how you have that conversation, when you go and you approach that team about joining or coming on board with this global design system, how do you represent that balance between that centralization and that more federated identity that those people have created?

Saejin Choi:

Right. That really hits home to the emotional state and that mind shift change that we've been trying to push on. And I know this metaphor has been used to no end for design systems but what we're trying to do is help inform these teams that building the Lego bricks is all fun but, truthfully, that's boring and let us, the curators, handle what the Lego bricks look like and ask yourself would you rather design Luke Skywalker's hand versus design the Millennium Falcon? And what we're trying to do is equate the Millennium Falcons to these are patterns, these are the hard challenges that these teams have to solve, how can we reuse some of these experiential patterns and then leave it to us to do the boring work of curating that pattern into these global Lego bricks that we're trying to do. There's not so much glamor in the component side, it's much more glamor on the pattern side and solving these bigger challenges that we're trying to get these teams to do.

Meghan Rosatelli:

And I think, to that point too, some designers just love making components. So, we have all of these design systems teams at Capital One with just some designers that frigging love components and they love getting in the weeds of components. So, one of the things that we did really tactically out the gate, once we knew we were really on the path of an enterprise-wide design system, we had business support for it, we had dedicated tech teams, we had dedicated product for it, the design system was declared a platform at the company, meaning there was a convergence mandate on the horizon. So, the first thing that we really did was, and we said, "Okay, we have to set up a coalition for the design system. We need to bring all of the people that just love design systems and that have built really successful design systems here into the room."

So, we started a design system coalition, we started a pretty robust coalition on the design side. We have a dedicated lead for that coalition, it's her full-time job to lead that space and to bring people together. We have dedicated time from designers that are in the coalition so it's part of their job to be a part of the design system coalition, it's part of their job to show up to the meetings and to review components. And the result of that, which I think, initially, we wanted to do in theory but we really didn't know how it would work in practice is like, "Okay, we're redesigning the design system." We want to co-design all of these new components, so 80 plus components. And we were like, "Man, you think too many cooks in the kitchen," right? Can you co-design a button with 20 plus people? But that's what we've done, that's what we've done over the last year and a half. Is we have co-designed every single component and component state and variant with this group of people from all across the company that are just really passionate about it and it's worked.

Chris Strahl:

There's almost two things at play here, right? There's this idea of how do I draw people in by showing respect for their idea, showing some interest in what they've built and what's come before, simultaneously pairing that with this thing that Saejin said around you guys get to go work on the interesting stuff now. And I'm really fond of saying this when we talk to customers and stuff like that about design systems is that actually getting the initial content in the design system is not really the fun part, the fun part is what comes after and what you can actually do with it. And so, being able to say let us take care of that initial content and that framework for the design system and then you guys get to decide what you build with it. Likewise paired with there's some really great ideas here that we want to adopt into our framework.

When I think about this organizational mandate, when I think about getting dedicated time from designers, what does that conversation look like in the leadership of Capital One to basically say this is the right pathway for this organization? Because you have all these different disparate design systems that are presumably creating value throughout the organization. What is that tipping point that represented that central movement?

Meghan Rosatelli:

Yeah, it's such an interesting sort of space because, on the one hand, you're thinking like, "Just let good enough be. These systems are working, the people that work on them are super passionate about them and they're knowledgeable about them. Why not just let it ride?" But one of the things that we try to do at Capital One is really reduce redundancy, I think all companies don't want a bunch of teams working on the same thing. And reducing this space of, hey, we have a lot of customer facing products out there, we try to mimic the same care that we put to our customer facing products for our internal associates, we have thousands of call center associates and people working on internal platforms, engineers and designers and product owners and risk analysts and the list goes on. So, it's can we help from just a full corporate level teams build things reliably and faster and not have to rely on what are excellent but, at the end of the day, sometimes, pretty scrappy teams that are trying to put design systems together for their specific spot in the company.

Chris Strahl:

So, in a way, it was about removing constraints on resources from individual teams and trying to really pool those resources into something that would ultimately create more value faster across your entire ecosystem not within a single product group or a single part of the organization?

Meghan Rosatelli:

Absolutely, and bringing just design quality to teams that maybe don't have the luxury of having a designer or a content strategist on the team. So, giving them the tools that they need to build what they need for their users faster and more reliably. And then the other thing is it was just a really exciting opportunity to be able to have a platform at the company that was focused on UI and user experience and just getting that to a space where our leaders across Capital One really saw the value in that and the value in creating the building blocks for excellent experiences for customers and internal associates. So, the support was really ... I mean, it wasn't super difficult to get. I think the hardest part is, in a company that's distributed like Capital One, is to get that message back out. So, we got it to the top, we got the approval where they established enterprise-wide design system, but then, how do you connect all of the different layers of the organization with that same communication and that's probably the bulk of my job.

Saejin Choi:

And just to add to that, yeah, even preempting that with helping leadership understand what a design system actually is, right?

Chris Strahl:

Right.

Saejin Choi:

You know? I mean-

Chris Strahl:

The eternal question, what is this thing?

Saejin Choi:

Exactly, right? And of course, design is in the name of it so there's assumptions automatically made with people who really don't understand what a design system is. So, a big part of that was just letting leadership understand this is not just a design initiative. This is full trifecta, design, product and tech initiative that will benefit all three of those groups. And once they really started understanding the benefit of that, the resource constraint conversation, I'd say, was mitigated a little bit once they realized the value of it.

Chris Strahl:

Yeah, and you never find a team more eager to adopt a design system than that three-person scrappy team that's just trying to get something off the ground. It's oftentimes a lot harder than that 50-person product team that is well-resourced and has a lot of different specific role definition. When you think about that empathetic approach to those different teams, what was your strategy there at bridging the different layers of communication? So, you get this buy-in, there's a bunch of people at Capital One, in leadership, that are like, "Yeah, we'll put money, we'll put budget, we'll put resources to this. We'll," for lack of a better word, "Bless this as the global system." But then, ultimately, you still have to get buy-in, you still have to have that deeply empathetic conversation around I know you've built a bunch of stuff, use this instead. I imagine that you guys got a lot of pushback. No, make me is probably something that you heard fairly frequently. How do you transition from that?

Meghan Rosatelli:

I think that's probably the most, I don't know, maybe untold story of design systems or maybe we are just on an island somewhere but it is so difficult to get that buy-in. It's a mindset, right? You have to have a global design system mindset and, if you don't have that mindset and you're not bought in, there is every excuse in the book. We're not going to get it prioritized with our product and tech partners. I checked with our leaders and they've never heard of this global design system before so we're good. Or it'll take too long or you guys are doing it wrong so we're not going to be on board or whatever. And I say all of those things, everyone is totally in good faith, right? To Saejin's point, everybody knows it's the right thing to do but there's so many different constraints for every team to try to make a huge shift like this work.

So, the buy-in, it's emotional, it's really getting people aligned on the vision but then helping break down what the work is and really celebrating all of the talents that they're bringing to the coalition and that they're bringing to the process. And to be perfectly honest, man, it has taken ... I mean, we're well into the first year of really officially doing this at this level and we are still, in a lot of ways, in the hearts and minds phase of it. Even though we are putting in components on the shelf across multiple libraries, even though we're rolling out the system, even though our largest servicing platform is using it and is adapting, this is still very much a hearts and minds mountain to climb.

Chris Strahl:

Right. It's very convenient and easy to say no but how you get somebody to say yes is substantially more difficult. And that yes really comes with that empathetic, emotional conversation about getting people invested in the success of this new thing or this new idea. And I think that that's really absent from the design systems conversation frequently. Of course, there are heuristic reasons or practical reasons for a global design system but people still struggle with adoption of those things because of the emotional nature of what a conversion takes. Call it marketing internally, call it what you will, the ability to get people aligned on a vision that excites them seems to be the catalyst for adoption across these different disparate teams and do a more global central way of thinking.

Meghan Rosatelli:

It is. And I'll say something that's going to sound super trivial and then, Saejin, you can jump in but our team is ego free and they are the kindest designers and content designers that I've ever worked with in my career. And building the team, that was my number one goal that this is never going to work if, one, these aren't really respected experts that have been around for a while and, two, that they're just not super nice. You can have all the communications in the world and all of the mandates in the world and all of the infrastructure but there's so much just care and empathy that our team leads with and they do it in a couple of ways.

Erin Potter leads the coalition, she's constantly making space for that group and checking in with them, doing one-on-one check-ins twice a year to make sure that those individuals are getting what they need and that they feel supported and empowered in that space making sure that everyone's needs are accounted for. Our lead designer opens his Figma files, takes into consideration every single comment that designers leave in those files and make sure that everybody's needs are accounted for, goes back on things, revisits things if issues come up. It's just an incredibly ego free, kind team that, I think, that gets overlooked a lot of how important that is.

Saejin Choi:

Yeah, I can't stress that enough because, make no illusions, the mandate helps, obviously, right?

Chris Strahl:

Right.

Saejin Choi:

On top of that, we are really tightly knit with the brand organization as well. So, that is another avenue of helping teams understand that this is partly why we're doing this is to align the brand. But when we, as a team, step back and think about what really is within our control is really exactly what Meghan said. Help all of these people that are going to be going through a very difficult process and figure out what we can do with that empathetic and humble lens of what can we do to help you all be a part of this and really feel like you have control, essentially, of what we have control of. And let's just co-design as much as we can and develop it within this realm of control that we have. The mandate's been made so there's influence there. But we, as a design system team, we want to be as open and as just thoughtful and empathetic as much as possible to all of our consumers.

Chris Strahl:

Yeah, how you overcome organizational resistance is very rarely with mandates because that just pushes the overt resistance into the land of the covert. It's with empowerment and I think you guys have done a really great job of thinking about empowerment as a tool for adoption. And in that empowerment spectrum, 20 people feels like a lot to me but, at the same time, you guys are making it work with a really great team that has set aside their own time. And where the mandate really helps you in that regard is it gives them the freedom to say I'm setting aside this time to adhere to this mandate but it's really the empowerment that's driven the success here.

Meghan Rosatelli:

Yeah, these teams, they could drag their feet for years. And we've had teams that have come around over the last year and are now contributing 60% of their time to help us build out components in Figma. We've had a tech team contribute almost all of their engineers to help build out components in code in one of our web component libraries. It took a year, a solid year of relationship building but seeing these teams come in and just really put their time into it and these are excellent designers. If I could have 50 people on a team, I'd have them all on the team. They're really good at what they do and they've built quality design systems at the company or just love design systems. And so, at the end of the day, we're just so grateful for the support and the help.

Chris Strahl:

Yeah, I think that gratitude and celebration, I think, is a part of that empowerment as well. When you think about recognition and you think about the ways that people like to be rewarded for their work, how do you think about that relative to contribution? Because I think that contribution is an interesting angle here. When you're a person that is passionate about design systems and really cares about this stuff, a lot of the validation of your work comes from having your work show up in the system and be used by other people. I work with a lot of engineers, I know that it's an absolute mark of pride and validation that your work has value when you see other people using it, people that you don't even know or never actually met directly. How do you guys think about that contribution framework across all these teams? Because it seems like it's healthy and I'm curious where that comes from or where that framework looks like to get people excited about engaging with you guys to build something new.

Saejin Choi:

Yeah, it's difficult to set just a standard framework of contribution, at least in our organization currently, just because contribution comes in so many different forms. Anything from a content design contribution of a glossary term, potentially, all the way to a baseline set of react components. So, what we've tried to do is look at it, at least, what we could do to standardize that process as much as possible and set up some different stages within the process to really help everyone see what's going on, but also help funnel these contributions into almost a prioritization leveling of what needs to come right now, what needs to come, maybe, secondarily. And then, we cluster all of these willing contributors to help contribute what they're passionate about but also what is important to the community as a whole.

So, we try to leave choices out there for the contributors to where it's just not like, "Hey, I want to contribute to this thing," "Okay, fill out all of this crap, follow all of these steps and then do it and it's out there in the wild," which is great if they want to go that route. But it's also, "Oh, you want to contribute? Be part of this community we're trying to build and see all of the other contributions that are coming in." So, it's the avenue for contributors to work with other teams doing the same thing that they don't necessarily work with on a regular basis and it creates a bit of that inspiration of wanting to do a good job of contributing a component just because they realize it's more important than they actually realized. So, that's a little bit. That's also to say that we don't have the contribution process nailed down to a T, we're still trying to figure out where the critical mass of contribution is coming and then try to standardize that process and make it as efficient as possible.

Chris Strahl:

One of the things that I really like that you just brought up a second ago is you basically said, "Look, there is a process but the process isn't the important part. The important part is alignment on what matters." And I think that that's a really brilliant take on how to actually foster a willing contributor. Sure, you need to have some process, it can't just be willy-nilly but the process isn't what creates the contribution, the alignment is and the interest in that alignment is and that alignment for you guys is around prioritization and it's around multiple simultaneous initiatives that match up with people's passions. It's a way for contributors to start thinking about what they want to build into the system but also getting their peers engaged in that same framework.

Meghan Rosatelli:

We hear a lot that contribution should be really easy, right? And I'll read that in medium articles or hear on the ... Contribution should be so easy. We actually put pretty much everywhere, contribution is hard. And it's not because we're trying to make it hard but because the design system has a mandate. If we're going to offer it and tell people they have to use it, it better be on point and it better be able to serve all of the different use cases. And that's the line of sight that we have on the design system global team is we can look at the forest, through the trees and see all of the different use cases out there and help teams get their component to that global state. But it's not hard because it's tedious or there are too many steps in the process necessarily, it's hard because there's just design rigor behind it and there's engineering rigor behind it. And I think that people are okay with that because, to your point earlier, you celebrate that because that's a big achievement.

Saejin Choi:

Yeah.

Chris Strahl:

No, as well it should be, right? There's a lot of Spiderman and Uncle Ben with great power comes great responsibility. And if you're, all of a sudden, changing stuff in a design system, that affects a lot of people. Like you guys said, 80 plus apps and so you have to have rigor behind that. I think that what you've done a good job of is you've not mistook easy for low friction and I think that that's an important distinction is there are lots of different kinds of easy. One of the kinds of easy is to make an experience that feels welcoming and as frictionless as possible. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's anything I say goes or I change a core brand color and, all of a sudden, I have 80 apps that all are representing the wrong brand color. But it is definitely one of those things that it seems like you guys have put some thought into around what does a low friction experience look like.

Saejin Choi:

Yeah, I know this is becoming cliche now but just reinforcing that we are the curators, we are not the designers, whether it's the contributions or anything that really gets created within the design system. So, our job is to make sure we curate at a global level all of the work that's being done. So, it's thinking at it with that kind of perspective, we really try to figure out how can we get out of the way as much as possible. What the understanding, the more we get out of the way, the more messy it's going to be but it's still going to be our jobs to clean up the mess that's created from getting out of the way. But we'd much more prefer to get out of the way and let that friction subside as much as possible and we'll figure out ways to make it less messy next time.

Chris Strahl:

Right. Well, you're talking about being iterative about your approach and I think that you guys are self-aware about how you're learning and, a year in, it sounds like you've learned a lot. I can't wait to see where you guys are at a year from now taking all the learnings of another year under your belt. Because it seems like you have this framework that is very open, very transparent, very welcoming, that is thoughtful about who your contributors are, that is thoughtful about who your users are and you're really taking the learnings that you've had and reapplying them into your process and also your way of thinking about how this whole system gets constructed and I think that that's the superpower here. When you just look at the stats on paper, 80 apps, massive ecosystem, hundreds of designers and engineers, a team of 20 plus that are just contributors and on this council, that's a lot and it sounds daunting just to say all those things out there.

And I think that, as a listener, if you're a major organization thinking about this thing, that might feel impossible. But it's not like you guys woke up one day and all this existed, you went through a lot of different iterations and took a lot of learnings away to continue to build this up. And I love the idea of how you use experimentation to engage with your users and ultimately built this really awesome system for people to go from make me to being contributors.

Meghan Rosatelli:

Yeah, I think we've said a lot, it's a pretty emotional process. It's pretty emotional just for our team, too. I tell the team all the time, "You all, no one's done this before. No one has done this before at Capital One and we're learning and we're going to figure it out and we're going to screw things up but we have to always keep our eye on the prize and know that we're working with people and people have good days and bad day and, at the end of the day, everyone really wants to do the right thing." So, we have emotional ups and downs too and it's a hard process. And I think one of the things that we've done on the team to maybe create some safe spaces, even for us, but some creative spaces is we created a look book for the design system and we also have, Saejin's been designing for a year, our documentation site.

So, we have these really creative spaces where, instead of just going out and talking about the design system all the time and doing the ground work of getting the components redesigned and into Figma and into code, where we can just play with the stuff we've designed. So, the doc site is our web design system, it's all of our components, it's pushing the brand, it's really beautiful. We have a look book that, Richie Holland's our lead designer has just taken a ton of products from Capital One and redesigned them on his own time with the design system just so teams can see what their stuff would look like and we can see what a cohesive brand looks like. We redesign fun stuff like popular music apps using the design system to show people what it would look like. So, there's a lot of just being able to also do that fun design work and let people see what it's going to look like and I think that goes just a really long way in getting people excited.

Chris Strahl:

I'd love to see title brought to you by Capital One. Oh, awesome. So, beyond the framework that you guys have built now for designers, engineers, product people, what are some of the seeds you're sowing for the future? I think that, if that team of 20 that was that core council expands, what roles, what people, what way does it expand and change?

Saejin Choi:

Just like we were mentioning, the coalition aspect and the council aspect, we have a dedicated person, again, dedicated to that whole community aspect, Erin Potter. She put her on pedestal, she's amazing. But we have a dedicated content lead on our team because we do feel like content design guidance and standards are just as important as components as far as illustrating and translating the Capital One brand that we have. So, what we've begun to do is created a whole other community of content designers within Capital One to really come together and create this community facilitated and curated by, Dan Singer, our content lead to really develop some standards around content design, how we write at Capital One and it's a direct extension of our Capital One brand voice used and translated for digital experiences.

So, there are a lot of things in development that we're building out led by our content lead which is things like content glossary of terms that we use at Capital One that align with AP standards but also align with our Capital One voice. There are tons of different messaging standards that we're developing, so there's a whole world of content design standards that we are developing.

Chris Strahl:

So, content is this big focus for you guys around where this all heads next, right? This idea that thinking about content as a core part of patterns is a big piece of where this is headed for you all?

Saejin Choi:

Yeah, absolutely. We feel like content design and just writing standards as a whole is just as important as standardizing UI components. It's all about consistent experiences, reassuring consumers that they are in the right spot and, if they're not, they understand what to do at that point in time. And there's a lot of different teams that are trying to solve those issues and what ends up happening is you have these disparate fragmented responses to the same thing.

So, obviously, early on, we saw a huge need around standardizing a lot of the content design practices that we have. And like I mentioned, we have a content lead dedicated to our team that's working with that content community to really standardize all of those patterns that it really, not just at the global level with components, but really feeds into how these patterns and templates and experiences are worded and communicated to our customers. So, we've already seen huge value and huge benefit from standardizing even a rudimentary set of content design standards.

Chris Strahl:

That's awesome. And then, Meghan, you brought up earlier how you view this as very much a platform. At what point does this become the brand platform for the organization?

Meghan Rosatelli:

I don't know if the design system will ever become the brand platform but what we do is we partner so tightly with brand and we are the digital representation of the brand. So, if anyone ever says like, "Oh, is Gravity on brand?" We say, "The design system is the brand. We are the digital representation of the brand." So, our brand partners, we probably meet with them just as much as we meet with designers on the design team. So, Saejin was just talking about our content lead on the team, he has a counterpart in brand who leads brand standards for mechanics and content on the brand side and they meet constantly and work on approaches to content across the board. Because, one, we're a bank so you really can't screw up content, it's very, very standardized and structured how we talk about things.

Chris Strahl:

Yeah, trust is important for you guys.

Meghan Rosatelli:

It's a little important, yeah.

Chris Strahl:

There you go.

Meghan Rosatelli:

So, that's just the content crossover with brand is so tight but, across design, we really see each other as, a lot of times, just one big team. The brand standards team and our team just work so tightly together and we always have and we really have each other's backs because I think, in a lot of ways, any standards team often has an uphill battle. And when we can work with each other, it's always to the benefit of the broader mission of getting all of our products and platforms, utilizing the brand voice, utilizing the basic foundations of the brand, so we help each other out a lot. There are a lot of Slack messages like, "Hey, I'm in this meeting, did you know about this?" "No." "Okay, I'm going to pull you in." And so, there's a lot of back and forth like that, it's just really awesome.

And then, I think, building on how that all trickles down. So, we think about the brand is at the top setting these really flexible but global standards around color and typography and voice. And then we have the design system that reflects all of that digitally for digital experiences. And then, from there, we get to that local layer that's focused on patterns and templates and flows for all of these different products and platforms and applications. And we talked earlier that's really where the fun is because, once you can get all of those guidelines and standards from the first two layers baked in to pattern libraries, you can play.

Our largest servicing application is our first big client of the design system, they're the team that's actively adopting. This is a massive federated team across the company for pretty much all of our digital products. And we're finding that, as that team transition from having their own design system to this pattern library, that people are realizing it's going to solve a lot of problems and that the design system is actually freeing up space to dig into a lot of these what we internally call local pattern libraries and local opportunity spaces where we can elevate more experienced design.

Chris Strahl:

Yeah, it's amazing what you're able to do when the basics are baked into the system for you. I think that we oftentimes underestimate how long we all spend chasing what's the right color palette or what's the right design file. And so, being able to think about those things where those are just solved problems and it's no longer a decision set or some fragmentation of your own work day that you have to go and chase all that stuff down. Oh, I love you guys' philosophy towards this, I think it's awesome. Again, love to see the way that the learnings have contributed to this central system and also how you all have been able to get buy-in for the really incredible work you're doing. Definitely eager to keep the conversation going, really interested in revisiting this in a few months and to see what you guys have learned since and see how this major application is going.

Meghan Rosatelli:

Yeah, us too.

Saejin Choi:

Yeah, it's been a pleasure. I can guarantee one thing. In a few months, we will have made even more progress.

Chris Strahl:

That's awesome. Great. Thanks so much for being on the program today, you all, I so appreciate your time. Thank you for sharing your story, real inspiration and I look forward to chatting again.

Meghan Rosatelli:

Awesome. Thank you.

Saejin Choi:

Thanks so much.

Chris Strahl:
That's all for today. This has been another episode of the Design Systems Podcast, thanks for listening. If you have any questions or a topic you'd like to know more about, find us on Twitter @TheDSPod. We'd love to hear from you with show ideas, recommendations, questions or comments. As always, this pod is brought to you by Knapsack. You can check us out at knapsack.cloud. Have a great day.

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