Design System Checklist

This excercise helps you decide what is relevant to add to your Design System. You use the outcome of this tool as input for your backlog. Use this technique when you create a new Design System

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When do you use this tool?

The goal of the Design System Checklist is to quickly decide what’s relevant for your Design System (it’s originally by Nathan Curtis). The outcomes of this exercise can be used as the input for your backlog or to decide what your design system pilot will look like. Use this technique when you create a new Design System.

We use this tool as part of our Design System Take Off, where we help you make a flying start with your Design System. A good start is important, because our research shows you will get inconsistency later on if you don’t.


+/- 45 minutes


3 – 10 people

You’ll need:
  • The checklist printed on A4 (one per person)
  • The Checklist printed on large paper (A3 or A2)
  • Pens and markers
  • Time Timer

Step by step

Assign one of your team the Facilitator-role. This person facilitates the excercise, keeps track of time and documents the findings.

  • Every participant crosses off the non-relevant categories. There’s no minimum or maximum amount they need to cross.
  • Most important categories. Let every participant circle at most 5 categories.
  • Most important items. Every participant checks at most 25 items.
  • Of the 25 checked items, underline the 10 most important items.
  • One by one every participant says out loud which 10 items they underlined. The facilitator counts the outcome on the big Checklist.
  • Decide together which items are crucial for your Design System. Add checkmarks for your final choice.

Be prepared: you’ll get some strange outcomes with this exercise! During our take-off for the municipality of The Hague we found out accessibility guidelines were so important, we had to describe them individually for each component.

Maurice checks off

What to do after the checklist?

Now you know what your team thinks are the most important components for your Design System. This will be your first version (or your pilot). Now you can do a Design Audit and prepare a backlog for your Design System.

With this tool you focus on the contents of your Design System, but we know from research that most Design-System-projects go off the rails when involving the organization and creating a good workflow. That’s why we urge you to take a look at our proces-puzzle.

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