Versioning Design Systems: Best Practices

As a design system practitioner, it’s your responsibility to understand and maintain the design system of your company or organization. One important aspect of this is versioning.

Why do we need versioning?

Versioning ensures that changes are tracked, documented, and communicated properly. It helps guarantee that the design system remains consistent and up-to-date with the latest trends and technological advancements. Let’s take a look at some best practices for versioning design systems.

TLDR:

Best practices for versioning design systems:

  • Having a defined process for how new versions of components and the system will be introduced, tested, and deployed.
  • Using version numbers and semantic versioning to clearly indicate the types of updates and their impact on the system.
  • Creating a changelog that documents the updates, improvements and bug fixes made in each version of the design system.
  • Communicating changes with the development team and stakeholders, to ensure they understand the reasoning behind updates and how they will affect the final product.
  • Ensuring backwards compatibility as much as possible, so that updates do not break existing functionality in the product.
  • Regularly reviewing and documenting the life cycle of the components, to be aware of when to update or deprecate them.

Having a Defined Process

It’s important to have a defined process for how new versions of components and systems will be introduced into production. This process should include testing by both design and development teams before deployment, as well as communication with stakeholders regarding any changes that may affect functionality or usability in any way. Having these steps clearly outlined will help ensure that everyone is on board with releases before they go live — which can save time and money down the road!

Using Version Numbers and Semantic Versioning

The first step in effective versioning is assigning each version of your design system with a unique version number. This allows you to easily identify which version of your system someone is using, and track changes over time. Good practice dictates that you use semantic versioning for this purpose, which assigns each version a three-part code (e.g., 1.2.3). The major number indicates major changes or updates (e.g., new features), the minor number indicates minor changes or bug fixes, and the patch number indicates minor bug fixes or other small improvements to existing features. This helps ensure everyone is on the same page when discussing different versions of your design system, as well as when tracking bugs or other issues with specific versions of the system.

Creating a Changelog & Communicating Changes

Having a changelog that documents each update is essential for tracking progress over time. The changelog documents the updates, improvements and bug fixes made in each version of your design system. This allows designers, developers and stakeholders alike to look back at previous versions of components and see what has changed since then, making it easier to identify bugs and other potential issues. Additionally, it’s important to communicate these changes with stakeholders so they understand why certain updates were made, as well as how they may affect the final product.

Ensuring Backwards Compatibility

Finally, it’s important that you strive for backwards compatibility with each new release of your design system — especially if there are multiple teams working on different products at once who might be relying on certain components from earlier versions of the system that could be affected by any major changes you make going forward. By ensuring backwards compatibility as much as possible, you minimize any potential disruptions that could occur due to unexpected updates breaking existing functionality in other products — and help ensure everyone is able to keep up with whatever changes may come down the line without having to worry about unexpected surprises along the way!

Conclusion:

Versioning your design system can seem like an intimidating task at first — but by following these best practices you can have confidence knowing that everything will run smoothly when it comes time for making updates! Taking care to use unique version numbers and semantic versioning conventions; creating useful changelogs; communicating effectively with development teams; documenting life cycles; and striving for backwards compatibility will help ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible throughout every stage of production — so don’t forget them! With these strategies in place, you can rest assured knowing that every new iteration of your design system will be just as successful (if not more so!) than its predecessor!

Want to learn more about versioning design systems?

Unlock the secrets of versioning design systems with Gijora Damman! Tune into our previous conference and hear from an expert on this topic.

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