Marketing Design Dispatch

The making of a component library

Published about 1 year ago • 4 min read

Did you see, Reader? My hand-drawn vector asset library, Scribbles, launched last week!

As well as the Figma component library (which is definitely the best value if you use Figma/FigJam), I've now also made Scribbles available to download as a set of PNG and SVG files which you can use in Canva, Keynote, Photoshop, Illustrator, Milanote... anywhere you can add images to express your ideas. Get that version of Scribbles here.

In today's issue I want to pass on three things I learned in the process of creating this component library that I know will be useful for anyone embarking on a design system or asset library project.

I'm also sharing:

  • a roundup of a few podcast episodes you should listen to as you prep for a design job interview
  • and a book you should read as a design student (or an educator!)

Three things to know about creating a component library

If you're delving into work on a design system or maybe if you want to create your own asset library, here's three things to keep in mind.

1. Deciding what components and variants to build is UX design

Wanting to make use of variants and component properties as much as possible to build a super smart system for Scribbles, I started out putting all similar shapes into one component. My small, medium and large versions of shapes were all together in one component, as were different styles of speech bubbles and dividers.

While grouping similar shapes like this made sense on paper, as I began to test the system myself I realised a flaw: by making those things component properties I was actually making it harder for a user to quickly grab the shape they want. This was especially a challenge in FigJam, where variants aren't as obvious.

I decided to limit my standard component properties to:

  • Pen style (weight)
  • Color

Then a few custom properties for some shape groups:

  • Arrow direction
  • Divider length
  • Style variations on accents

This meant no component has more than 3 total properties, and the user can largely make the decision about what shape to add in directly from the asset panel in Figma or FigJam.

The lesson? Just because everything can be a variant, doesn't mean it should be. Consider the user experience of your system and what design choice a user is making as they drag in a component.

2. Learn shortkeys to save time

I'm not a software power-user. I don't find joy in learning every feature and discovering hacks to make my workflow as efficient as possible. But when doing something as repetitive as setting up 100 components all with at least 16 variants... Let's just say I was driven to learn more shortkeys and shortcuts than I ever have before out of pure boredom 😂

I learned a lot of new workflows in this project purely from reaching the point of thinking "there MUST be a better way to do this!". If you're a 'learn by doing' person like I am, then a repetitive project like this a great chance for new tips and tricks to really sink in. Learn the shortkey for the menu item you've clicked on 10 times already and search for plugins that can help you automate things you're doing manually.

3. It will take longer than you think

And related to point 2, it will take longer than you think to create the system. Even with all the shortkeys and a super clear plan in advance the setup work to create 100 components took me about three times as long as I expected it to.

Then, if you're going to share the library with others, you need to add on time to spend on documentation so that everyone understands how to use the variants and structure you've set up. I spent several hours on the initial 'About' page of Scribbles, and then iterated on it a few times based on feedback.

So however long you have set aside to work on creating your system, double it! And you might be close to how long it will actually take 😅

I filmed a process vlog of this component library creation which you can watch here.

video preview

And make sure to get your own copy of Scribbles for just $5!

Design life podcast episodes for job hunters

My Design Life cohost Femke shared this roundup on Instagram recently (you should follow her @femkedotdesign!) and I thought I'd include them here for anyone currently going through the hiring process:

  • Episode 212: Inside the design hiring process (from the perspective of the people doing the hiring)
  • Episode 223: Why focussing on your portfolio will pay off
  • Episode 224: Crafting effective case studies
  • Episode 250: When starting a new job feels like you're starting from scratch (our thoughts on settling in to a new role)
  • Episode 268: A real look at today's design interview process (based on Femke's recent job hunting experience)

New book: How to be a design student

Thanks to everyone who has purchased Scribbles already. Your support means the world, and I hope you enjoy using my scribblings to add life and creativity to your designs, slides, brainstorms... Whatever you use them for! (and pls, send me screenshots!)

Have a good week,

Enjoy this issue? Click the heart to 'like' it!


Marketing Design Dispatch

by Charli Marie

Join 17,000+ creatives receiving insider insights about brand and marketing design – featuring landing page and rebrand breakdowns, useful career content, and a behind-the-scenes look at running a Brand Studio team in tech.

Share this page