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Design System Planning and Process

Nathan Curtis
Your instructor
Nathan Curtis
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Workshop includes:

  • 🔖  Examples to take away
  • 🗣  Interactive sessions
  • 📺  Workshop recordings
  • 🎤  Dedicated Q&A time
  • 🏅  Smashing Certificate

Workshop, 4×2h + Q&A Thu & Fri, April 18–26 2024
09:00 – 11:30 AM PT 18:00 – 20:30 CET Check your time zone

Managing an effective design system requires that it fit smoothly into how an organization makes and delivers digital experiences. Yet, it must also embrace unique and usually more robust processes to deliver high-quality foundations, components, and other features that other teams trust to reuse.

This workshop exposes you to scope, plan and run processes to make features, deliver releases, tackle complex initiatives, and guide an organization through a major new generation of an entire library. These processes create the foundation by which a system can pursue its vision, realize its strategy, evolve teams and practices, and create lasting value for an organization.


Here’s What You Should Be Expecting:

  • Interactive live sessions

    4 × 2.5h live sessions

  • Practical insights

    From visual style to the technical practices

  • Hands-on exercises

    With reviews by your teacher

  • Life-time access

    To all video recordings and examples

  • Dedicated Q&A time

    To ask all your questions

  • Smashing Certificate

    A well-deserved reward for your work


A design system can be seen as both a product consumed by other teams as well as a platform for organizations to make and share decisions and features. As such, system leaders and contributors must know how to approach making, maintaining, and promoting the system across an enterprise for it to be successful.

Over the course of four days, we’ll cover techniques and nuances of these processes across different shapes and sizes of systems so that designers and developers can make a robust, high-quality system together.

$300 .00 $400.00Register for this workshop →4 × 2h live sessions + Q&A. April 18–26.
With all video recordings & slides. Get a ticket.

🎪  Save up to 25% on this workshop with a Smashing Membership.

In This Workshop, You’ll Learn:

Sessions will engage participants in hands-on activities, spark new ideas, and moderate challenging conversations so your team can deliver:

  • Features like UI components made by designers and developers
  • Generations of a complete library, launched with fanfare
  • Regular, incremental releases with predictable communications
  • Special Initiatives to grow and evolve practices, support and infrastructure

Through these concepts, we’ll dig into considerations of a system’s:

  • Vision and mission
  • Team and community models
  • Communications and messaging
  • Support channels for users and contributors
  • Success measurements

Why You Should Attend

This workshop lays a foundation and challenges you to consider if your system program is robust, flexible, and inclusive enough. We’ll explore the processes that matter most – processes to start a system, define big bets, develop each feature, and release and communicate changes – and when to invest in each to build a successful program. Participants will explore many models, imagine new processes, share their own experiences, and inspire each other.

Nathan has contributed to or consulted with over 60 design systems over his career, including leading teams through major releases at Morningstar, Verizon, Capital One, Target, Fidelity, Marriott and many more. He’ll combine deep knowledge with a nuanced understanding of how systems work in companies of varying scale, business types, and organization models.

Who Should Attend

Design systems are best as a multidisciplinary pursuit. Therefore, the workshop is aimed at designers, engineers, product owners, managers, and leaders setting up or optimizing how to operate a design system at scale.

The workshop assumes participants are familiar with design systems fundamentals: what they are, what they offer, who makes and uses them, and why they matter. Materials are relevant to anyone planning to engage a community, decide what to build, and grow a system over time.

What Hardware/Software Do You Need?

To get the most out of the workshop, you’ll need access to Zoom (for audio, video and screensharing), Figjam (for hands-on activities), and Slack (using a SmashingConf private channel for workshop communications). You will not use design tools (such as in Figma or Sketch) or code in a code editor. Instead, activities will be collaborative in a team or full classroom setting using Figjam.


About Nathan

Nathan co-founded EightShapes with Dan Brown in 2006. He’s passionate about information architecture, UX, front-end dev, and leads design systems consulting at EightShapes. He wrote Modular Web Design in 2009, blogs frequently on Medium.com today, and speaks regularly at events worldwide.

Time & Schedule

This workshop is split over four days. Our virtual doors open at 8:45, we start at 9 AM PT.

The workshop sessions will run on the following days:

  • Thu, April 18, 09:00 – 11:30 AM PT (18:00 – 20:30 CET)
  • Fri, April 19, 09:00 – 11:30 AM PT (18:00 – 20:30 CET)
  • Thu, April 25, 09:00 – 11:30 AM PT (18:00 – 20:30 CET)
  • Fri, April 26, 09:00 – 11:30 AM PT (18:00 – 20:30 CET)

$300 .00 $400.00Register for this workshop →4 × 2h live sessions + Q&A. April 18–26.
With all video recordings & slides. Get a ticket.

🎪  Save up to 25% on this workshop with a Smashing Membership.


Day 1

8:45 am PT
Virtual doors open, registration, chat and introductions.

9:00 am – 10:00 am
Feature development, from design to code

10:00 am – 10:15 am
Break

10:15 am – 11:15 am
Feature planning, critique, testing, and reviews

11:15 am – 11:30 am
Q&A with Nathan on the day’s material. Networking!

Day 2

8:45 am PT
Virtual doors open, registration, chat and introductions.

9:00 am – 10:00 am
Release planning, versioning, and breaking change

10:00 am – 10:15 am
Break

10:15 am – 11:15 am
Release communications and support

11:15 am – 11:30 am
Q&A with Nathan on the day’s material. Networking!

Day 3

8:45 am PT
Virtual doors open, registration, chat and introductions.

9:00 am – 10:00 am
Planning and starting generations

10:00 am – 10:15 am
Break

10:15 am – 11:15 am
Managing and reporting on progress

11:15 am – 11:30 am
Q&A with Nathan on the day’s material. Networking!

Day 4

8:45 am PT
Virtual doors open, registration, chat and introductions.

9:00 am – 10:00 am
Discovering and prioritizing a mission and initiatives

10:00 am – 10:15 am
Break

10:15 am – 11:15 am
Planning and measuring objectives

11:15 am – 11:30 am
Q&A with Nathan on the day’s material. Networking!

$300 .00 $400.00Register for this workshop →4 × 2h live sessions + Q&A. April 18–26.
With all video recordings & slides. Get a ticket.

🎪  Save up to 25% on this workshop with a Smashing Membership.