Outline

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Atomic Design discusses the importance of crafting robust design systems, and introduces a methodology for which to create smart, deliberate interface systems.

Chapter one explains why. Chapter two focuses on the what. Chapter three and four show you how.

1. Design systems

The book will begin by addressing the “why”: why designers should care about thinking about interfaces in a more systematic way. I’ll discuss the history of modular design systems (after all, this type of thinking been around for a long while now), but discuss how the ever-shifting Web landscape is making systematic thinking a necessity.

The first section will also discuss the emerging trends and techniques that encourage more systematic thinking: style tiles, element collages, pattern libraries, UI frameworks, and more. And while I’ll certainly extol the virtues of these techniques, I’ll also bring to light a lot of the shortcomings and frustrations of UI frameworks and pattern libraries. This sets the stage to introduce a more sound, deliberate way of constructing an interface system.

2. Atomic Design Methodology

The second chapter will define atomic design. Atomic design is an interface design methodology consisting of five distinct stages working together to create deliberate design systems.

Atoms

Molecules

Organisms

Templates

Pages

Advantages

3. Tools of the Trade

This chapter will discuss tools and techniques to create atomic design systems. I’ll introduce Pattern Lab, a tool Dave Olsen and I created in order to execute atomic design systems. I’ll explain the gist of using Pattern Lab and its various features, but I want to be cognizant of not focusing too much on this specific tool. While I know it’s an effective tool for me and others, I understand that it might not be a perfect fit for all readers. The book is more about promoting the idea of atomic design rather than any specific tool.

4. Process & Workflow

I’ll introduce techniques for design teams to get started with systematic design. One particularly useful technique is conducting an interface inventory. I’ll define what an interface inventory is and how to conduct one. I’ll also reference other tools (like Stlyify.me and Nicole Sullivan’s Typo-O-Matic) that help deconstruct an existing interface into its component parts. I’ll also discuss pattern library tools and resources to help designers kickstart their own design systems.

Everyone’s design process is different, so I’ll also discuss how to introduce and integrate atomic design into cross-disciplinary Web design teams. I’ll also provide practical advice for getting buy-in from colleagues and clients.

5. Maintaining Design Systems

Conclusion

The book will conclude by recapping why thinking in a more systematic way is becoming increasingly necessary. I’ll talk about the merits of atomic design, and remind people how they can get started. I will leave on a note of “What’s next?” for design systems. Right now, for me the most obvious challenge is to make systematic design the default mode of thinking for designers, agencies, and organizations. I think there’s a tremendous opportunity for design systems to help people build for the future.