Product Content guidelines for writing within Lightspeed products,
a website of 51 pages documenting all components, best practices, code samples, and APIs for all atoms, components and patterns
Framer Classic and FramerX libraries for high-fidelity interactive prototyping using the Design System components
At the time of writing, Flame is in active use at Lightspeed by all web front-end teams. It powers 10 teams,
5 products, and 30 Lightspeeders to deliver value to our customers.
Company: Lightspeed POS
Team: Guillaume Lambert, Xavier Drdak, Maarten Afink, Karan Shahani, Kevin Vicrey
Role: Product Designer, Front-End Developer, Product Manager
Timeline: 2016-2019 (ongoing)
Status: in active use
How did this happen? What was my process?
1. Humble beginnings (CSS)
Starting in 2016, I noticed that most design work at Lightspeed was inconsistent at many levels. Having worked on a Design System
previously at EF, I understood how to this problem could be remedied. My first step was to find an allies among the Front-end development
guild. Together, we explored the idea of building a Design System, and how this might benefit UX Design and Front-end development.
The first few components were made of to CSS classes. We decided to leverage a small project as a proof-of-concept.
Getting buy-in from PMs and other developers across the organization was critical: a small time investment up-front in exchange
for more quality, speed, and consistency in the future.
2. Growth & team buy-in (contributions & React)
Developers and designers quickly gained interest in the Design System. All designers were already using the Sketch and Framer libraries
we had created for ultra-fast UI design and prototyping.
Developers from other teams who saw value in this Design System started using it and contributing back to it. This was amazing!
Very quickly, the number of components available to us was growing due to the positive feedback loop that the team had initiated.
In an collaborative decision, the contributors decided to evolve from CSS tokens & shared styles to React.
The move React components empowered designers to bring more types of components to the Design System.
For example, I worked to automate the creation of icons from Sketch-exported SVGs to
React icon components with customizable 3-tone style.
3. Tabular expansion
Realizing the power the Design System on one hand and some inconsistent pages in our products,
I rallied designers from each of the major 3 web products from Lightspeed to collaborate on the
design and conceptualization of a Table component: arguably the most complex component yet.
To maximize usefulness for all developers, designer and, customers,
this Table component would have to support many workflows and modalities. I led interface inventories, competitive
analyses, and many design workshops with stakeholders in order to get this right.
We agreed on a design which supported all of the features the Table should have:
To test out assumptions about how the Table would be understood by its users, I built a total of 9 iterations of interactive prototypes
for the Table's filtering behaviour. This test was massively successful in identifying the wins and flaws of the table.
As I was building the prototype, I learned how to use anonymous functions with map and filter,
fetch mock data from the network, optmize rendering, and write modular single-resposibility code.
I am very pleased that the Table is now an integral part of the Design System and in use by all product teams.
4. Birth of a team
After a year and a half of building the Design System in a distributed way, I wanted to further increase the velocity and quality of the
Design System. I pitched to key stakeholders the idea that the company should invest in a dedicated team for the Design System.
I put together a presentation outlining the benefits of spending dedicated resources to internal tooling. By attaching a dollar
value to the potential benefit of having a dedicated team, I was able to convince senior management to pull together people from existing
teams and new hires to form the Design System team. We are (at time of writing) 4 developers and 2 designers. I fall into the latter, and also was bestowed
the responsibility of being Product Manager. This has been a huge challenge for me, as I have never received training on how to be a Product Manager.
5. Hardening and evangelizing
With a newfound team and hopeful hearts, the team transitioned from working on the Design System as an "innovation time" project
to treating it like a product. Our first initiative was to improve the developer experience of using the Design System. This meant
moving from CSS tokens and webpack configs to CSS-in-JS (using styled system) and distributed builds for the React Components.
The improvements were significant.
From a previously difficult-to-navigate experience which might take a mid-level front-end developer 2 hours to set up, we moved to a way of working
that required less than 2 minutes to set up.
The team now offered an easy-to-use solution for installation and usage of our UI components.
Gap analysis showed that our stakeholders (designers, developers, product managers, quality specialists)
were being provided with very little guidance as to how, when, and why to use each component. This was to be our
next leap forward as a product. I teamed up with the other designer on the team to design, develop, and launch a comprehensive
documentation site for the Design System to boost understanding and context of the tools we were providing.
After working for about 2 months continuously, the MVP for our site was done. By launch, it contained:
Component documentation including example usage, copy guidelines, code playground, and API documentation,
Pattern documentation for high-level components and component compositions.
Creating the site was not enough. Lightspeeders needed to know what it was, why it was good for them, and how to access it.
With that in mind, I organized and held 2 "lunch-and-learn" events at Lightspeed offices (in Amsterdam and Montreal)
to properly launch the Design System Documentation website. This launch resulted in a 60% increase in visits to the site week-over-week
from the previous soft-launch initiatives.
If you're still reading, I think you deserve a visit
to the Design System site.
The URL from the slide above is for internal use only.