How to conduct a design system audit for your UX processes

January 22, 2024
13 minute read
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An important aspect of digital products and services in today's competitive market is a design system. You need a design that's usable for your products. The more well-thought-out your design project is, the more polished your final product. You can increase conversion rates with a better final product and user interface.

A key factor that indicates the success of your solutions is how well-developed your process for design is and if your teams follow it. In the last few years, many teams have begun to develop their design system processes. These include a set of guidelines for communication, style guides, policies, and UI components used, which all contribute to the overall design of your products.

However, your design system must be reviewed occasionally to ensure maximum efficiency. You need to review your systems to ensure they follow best practices. You can fill in gaps in your process and ensure it is always top-tier. So, how can you continually improve your design process? You conduct a design audit.

Auditing your design system will allow you to verify the IU components within your asset library. Additionally, you can update them to respond to changing markets and customer preferences and needs. All modern organizations will benefit from a process audit. The importance of the audit is best understood by realizing it's a principle practice adopted by any design system agency.

We will introduce the concept of the design system review in this blog post and how an audit can help your business. We will outline its importance for business owners like you, developers, and designers. We will then outline the steps to conduct a successful audit, whether you own a large enterprise or small business.

Audits come in two flavors. Generally, businesses perform audits in a digital setting. However, there are steps you can take to audit your business if it operates primarily offline. We will also discuss how an audit will benefit brick-and-mortar businesses, highlighting the importance of the audit in all business settings. So whether you are building a design system or need to revamp your existing UX processes, keep reading.

Key takeaways

  • What is a design system audit?
  • Why is it important to audit your design systems?
  • How to conduct a design system review?

What is a design system audit?

Having a design system in place serves your business in many ways. An audit is one of the most important aspects your business cannot overlook when creating new products. This type of audit is often referred to as a visual audit.

You should review all visual components of your business. These include:

  • Pattern libraries
  • UI Components Library
  • Visual elements
  • Icon design

The most effective strategy for improving your current design systems is with an audit. An audit serves one primary purpose for your business: to review all the elements your business has created and improve and consolidate them into a better-organized asset library. For maximum efficacy, you should aim to review each component in your library individually. You can quickly create a review process by organizing assets by type or function.

For instance, you could group all buttons or countdown timers into one section for review to ensure color and visual consistency.

Using such an approach will help your designers view all function elements. During an audit, you must consider all elements for review. You will miss something and undermine the process if they are not given due attention. Later, it will negatively impact your business and lead to increased costs.

See how a design audit saves you money while improving future product designs? We will outline further the benefits of a design and UX audit.

So, let's explain why completing a design system review is important and learn the effects you could see if you fail to do so.

What is a design system audit?

What are the benefits of design system audit?

When correctly implemented, a design system review adds value to your organization. It's a comprehensive way to analyze the resources in your design system and evaluate the state and efficacy of your existing design elements.

A thorough audit is an effective way of discovering whether or not you need a completely new design system. The review will help you understand the structure of a new process that could benefit your business if needed. Meanwhile, a design audit can also help you understand the importance of a design system and determine if your design is inconsistent and inefficient for your business.

A design system can't be overlooked because:

  • It helps you assess the quality of your current design system process
  • You can identify gaps in your current system
  • You can assess the resources available to your team
  • You will ensure consistency among all elements in your asset library
  • You can update your design standards and policies for your organization

Can you see the numerous benefits of the design system review process? An audit can provide actionable data that enhances your end products, boosting customer satisfaction.

Ultimately, it can lead to more success in your business, especially when you follow design principles when creating assets.

What are the benefits of design system audit?

What is involved with a design system audit?

Below, we outline the most important aspects of a design system review and explain how they work together. If you use all the components and test accordingly, you will know if your system is perfect or needs work.

Ready to improve your design system process and meet business goals faster?

The first step in the design audit process is to gauge the quality of your current processes.

How and why do you conduct a design process review?

The key areas where a design system review is extremely helpful are analyzing and judging an existing system. The audit will tell you whether your organization uses a comprehensive design system and if your designers and developers follow it for all your projects.

Assessing the usefulness of your current system will help you understand if it is truly effective or if your team sees following it as a burden.

For example, using your design system, you will understand the time reduction in completing a project. If a project is completed in 30% less time, it could be a sign your design system is effective.

On the other hand, if your designers mention they can never find your brand assets, it could mean something isn't working. It indicates you need to revisit your processes to improve efficiency across your organization.

Identifying potential issues when building a design system

Identifying potential issues when building a design system

Organizations, big and small, need to employ comprehensive design audits to ensure the brand has no shortcomings. Think of the process like a gap analysis in your content strategy, where you appraise your plan holistically. In content planning, the foundations of successful content are gap analysis and review. During this time, your goal is to ensure that the brand you're creating effectively satisfies customer needs.

If it doesn't, you will add content to fill gaps or reconsider your strategy. Right? It's one of the foundations you'd never overlook because content directly impacts your customer acquisition.

A design audit is also an important business aspect, but you analyze a system rather than content. From such analysis, your business can gain powerful insights. Reviewing your system by taking a step back will provide a fresh perspective. You can find new gaps and fill them by including other team members.

In the long run, the results of a design system review will increase team member adoption, and everyone will find working with your business easier.

A factor in whether or not a business will be successful is how well its employees like its systems. You can increase employee morale by redesigning a design system after an audit, boosting productivity and long-term efficiency.

Sound like a win-win? It is!

Checking if all resources are available to relevant team members

When you assign a project to your team or when onboarding new designers, a common concern is asset availability. A designer may love their job, but it could make them reluctant to complete your task quickly if they don't have the necessary resources.

Part of the design system reviews is ensuring designers have access to all the tools and assets they need to complete your project quickly. A design system review will allow you to revisit the tools, documentation, and assets your team members can access. If they are missing access to an important design tool, you can include it after the audit.

You should check the following and ensure designers can access them when reviewing.

  • Documentation about your system
  • Methods of communication
  • UI Components
  • Your design system platform

By evaluating your existing resources and modes of communication, you can ensure the system you initially designed is still effective.

If your team has grown substantially since your first implementation of a system, you will likely need to make considerable changes.

Although time-consuming, you will reap significant rewards from a thorough audit. We recommend you do not overlook it!

Ensuring design element consistency

Ensuring design element consistency

Good design boils down to one thing: consistency. You can have a beautiful website and app, but your customers will not recognize your business if they look different across platforms. It will cause them to doubt purchasing your products or services and lead to a reduction in revenue.

Having a good design system is the ultimate way to ensure your designs are effective. An audit will closely examine your existing UI elements and design patterns, allowing you to rectify design style inconsistencies. Oversight or changes and updates in your marketing could cause these inconsistencies, as your design system may not have been updated when you implemented changes.

So, a design audit will directly impact the creation of future products and existing offerings. Performing an audit will save you time and resources and allow you to do user research more quickly.

Updating existing designs and standard policies for your business

UI and UX are evolving fields that are complex. So, your business needs acute awareness of changing best design practices so you can create relevant practices for today's digital landscape.

A design system review will provide an opportunity for your designers to learn about current market trends and analyze them. You can then use the new knowledge and data gathered to refine your existing process, its elements, standards, and policies.

As governance is important for any process, you should closely review your documentation, policies, and standards. Review them and ask yourself, "Are these helpful to my business and team?"

You must modify them consistently and thoroughly if you can't say yes. The results will be a better organization for your team members and clearer processes that save time.

Do you understand how each part of a design system check enhances your business at every product design stage?

How to conduct a design audit using best practices

How to conduct a design audit using best practices

Our recommended flow for any business that will implement a design system check is as follows:

  1. Create and communicate the goals for the audit
  2. Analyze and evaluate current resources
  3. Conduct and inventory of existing UI design assets
  4. Categorize the elements by function
  5. Identify duplications, remove redundancies, and include missing components
  6. Review all visual and typographical elements for consistency
  7. Check your assets are accessible to all team members
  8. Consider creating or updating business guidelines
  9. Develop a roadmap for future audits, including design work modifications
  10. Share your findings with your team in a report that outlines findings clearly

Following the above steps, you can successfully audit your design system process. Now, let's learn what is involved in each process step.

Creating and communicating clear auto goals

In business, you perform as well as you plan and prepare. In marketing, we craft campaigns and plan extensively for what could happen. It would help if you did the same before beginning a design system review. Understanding what you plan to achieve during the audit is important so your efforts are fruitful.

Therefore, the first step is to create clear goals you can realistically achieve. When creating goals, you should follow the SMART outline.

  • Is your goal Specific?
  • Can you Measure it?
  • Is it Achievable?
  • Is it Realistic?
  • Can you complete it within a given Time frame?

These goals are clear and provide clarity. If you cannot answer yes to all of the above questions, reconsider the goals of your audit.

Analyze and evaluate current resources in your component library.

The next step in planning your audit is to review your resources closely. When you review, you can alter and manage expectations for all teams involved in the product development process. You shouldn't be too specific in the review of assets. It would help if you aimed to have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the resources you make available to your product design team.

Gather as much information as possible, including project design budgets and human resources needed and available, and use them to refine your processes later. A thorough design audit will include these important aspects and directly affect the quality of it.

Conduct and inventory of existing UI design assets

The design inventory is arguably the most time-consuming aspect of a design system check.

At this stage, your designers will gather all UI elements that make up your design system. Every aspect of the system should be documented.

You should include the following at this stage:

  • Design policies
  • Pattern libraries
  • Component libraries
  • Branding guidelines

As you can see, you want everything involved in your design system available for review.

Many businesses will collect screenshots of all elements and upload them to a shared space. The inventory will not succeed unless every element your design team uses is available for review.

Categorize the elements by function.

After everything has been gathered and is viewable, you must categorize elements by their function. Ensure that all buttons are grouped into a single category. Landing pages will be classed separately into another shared and viewable space. At this stage, the process will vary from one organization to another, but the consensus is that this step is necessary.

You are grouping elements to have a comprehensive overview of your design system. It will aid you in seeing what needs to be added or removed.

Identify duplications, remove redundancies, and include missing components.

Categorizing your elements by function will lead you to see what is missing and duplicated. Once you have everything in view, you can easily remove duplicates and add missing elements. For example, you may find that one contact form is not included in your design system, indicating the need to add it for easy access later.

Review all visual and typographical elements for consistency.

Review all visual and typographical elements for consistency.

The images you use need special attention during an audit. Analyze your visuals and color palettes for consistency and accessibility. Your goal is to have elements that will create a consistent image that's beautiful and easy to view for all people who use your products.

You can make all this possible by reviewing images and typography. Ensure all font families are easily read and provide a consistent brand image across all platforms and devices.

All of these are aspects of your brand's visual identity. They help your customers know they are working with you.

You aren't building a business for someone else to get recognition, are you?

Check your assets are accessible to all team members

Accessibility at this stage is comprised of two main components. First, can all your designers and developers access your UI elements? It's important they can increase efficiency.

What's more pressing is whether or not your designs are accessible to a wide audience. Using high-contrast colors can help people with vision problems read your website. Meanwhile, similar colors can cause reading difficulties for people with vision problems.

Small choices like font size and color will make your products more accessible to a wider audience. So, do not overlook this aspect of a design audit because your business will suffer from reduced revenue over time.

Consider creating or updating brand guidelines.

You cannot ignore branding when you design your products or services. You likely already have braiding guidelines that you think ensure consistency.

But do they keep everything consistent?

As you conduct an audit, revisit your stylistic guidelines. It would help if you cross-examined your guidelines with the design elements you have given your team. You can do this without your team or ask your designers for help.

Nonetheless, including guidelines in your audit is a surefire way to ensure everything is consistent after the audit. Make sure during this step, you have consistency in all areas of your business and its designs.

Develop a roadmap for future audits.

Do you remember the goal of an audit? It's to help you implement a better system. Because of this, you want to finish your audit with a roadmap that will guide you in creating future audits. With a roadmap, you can periodically review your design process and understand if it's still working for your business.

A good roadmap will outline your design limitations and help you create realistic timelines for future projects and design system iterations.

Share your findings with your team.

Share your findings with your team.

Once you have completed the audit, sharing your findings with your team and stakeholders is important. Involve all departments of your business, including:

  • Content creation teams
  • Marketing teams
  • Developers

Your business isn't solely comprised of developers, so you need to present your findings in digestible infographics. Create beautiful design visualizations that are easy to read and understand.

Next steps if you need a design process overhaul

Does looking at other businesses' design procedures make you jealous? Perhaps they are better with accessibility standards because they have addressed accessibility issues swiftly. Or their web design system seems more straightforward than yours.

If you feel your competitor's UX design is better than yours, we can help. Contact us if you want to develop a design process that will receive your team's buy-in. We can help you create procedures your team will enjoy. We will help you create all assets needed within a design system, such as web content accessibility guidelines, and help you set them up in a design platform like Figma. We will ensure your business receives all the benefits of a design audit, and you can rest assured our UX designers are experienced and have a wealth of knowledge.

We are design enthusiasts standing by, ready to help you and discuss any interesting design topics you have questions about.


In conclusion, an audit is an important step in optimizing productse for the best user experience, streamlining design processes, and maintaining a cohesive and consistent design system. By understanding the essential components of a design system audit, following the key steps to conduct one, and implementing changes and improvements based on the audit findings, you can unlock the full potential of your design system and create digital products that truly delight your users.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a design audit?

A design audit is a comprehensive analysis of all visual and technical elements of a website, app, or digital product, including visual elements, information architecture, navigation, content, forms, and links.

How do you audit an existing design system?

To audit an existing design system, define the goals of the audit, analyze resources, conduct a design inventory, categorize UI elements, identify redundant and missing components, analyze visual and typographic elements, perform an accessibility analysis, and consider the branding guidelines.

What does a system audit do?

System audit evaluates the effectiveness of IT controls, data integrity, and overall organizational goals. It examines performance measurement systems, costing systems, management benchmarking, and other key systems, practices, procedures, and controls that enable efficiency.

What audit considerations are included in system design?

When designing a system, audit considerations include examining the analysis results for misplaced functions, split processes or functions, broken data flows, missing data, redundant or incomplete processing, and automation opportunities.

How does a design system audit improve user experience?

A design system audit improves user experience by identifying and addressing design inconsistencies, usability issues, and outdated elements, ensuring users can effectively navigate and interact with the website or application.

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