Ben Callahan

Presenter Profile: Sparkbox was founded in 2009 with a mission to build a better web. As President, Ben has helped lead and grow the organization while they work alongside clients like Gap, The Oklahoma City Thunder, and Stanford University. He’s focused his energy most recently on developing a maturity model for design systems, articulating the anatomy of design systems, and chronicling his findings about workplace culture in the tech space. When not knee-deep in these explorations with others, Ben is a father, partner, poet, and home barista. His personal motto is, “Stay in learning mode” and this helps him to remember that every interaction is an opportunity to grow.

Presentation Title: Maturing a Design System

Outline: For the last five to ten years, systematic design and development practices have been growing and growing. It’s no wonder that, once we put a name on this snowball (hello, “design systems”), it only picked up speed. If you manage more than one site, if you support more than one brand, if you want to be more efficient or more consistent or more unified in your digital interface building approach—this is the workshop for you.

We’ll start with a breakdown of design system concepts, reframing how to think about them in a practical and approachable way (The Anatomy of a Design System).

  • Where design systems live in an organization
  • The four layers of a design system (concepts)
  • The three parts of each layer (tangibles)

Then we’ll dig into the four major concepts covered by the Design System Maturity Model developed from years of work, interviews, and industry-wide surveys. 

  • The stages of design system maturity
  • How a design system’s origin story impacts its path through maturity
  • A framework for maturing in a healthy way
  • A framework for maintaining stability

Finally, we’ll look at each stage in greater detail to understand

  • the common characteristics
  • the primary challenges
  • the core priorities
  • what your next steps should be in the maturity of your design system

Additionally, we’ll cover the delicate balance between flexibility and consistency. We’ll discuss an additive approach to maturing that will allow you to move from one stage to the next and keep your team and system in good health. And we’ll discuss  strategies for you to assess your current stage and discover opportunities to fill in the gaps you might have missed along the way.

Join this workshop for a half-day of discussion that will reframe the way you think about the people and the processes your design system was built to support.

Learning Objectives

  • A holistic understanding of the anatomy of design systems
  • An overview of the various ways a system can mature
  • An overview of key challenges and priorities for each stage of growth

Company Website: