Senior Director of User Experience, Product Management
A pioneer in healthcare operations solutions and services, symplr’s products from numerous acquisitions looked as different as any 10 products could two years ago. We had every combination of "tech stack" (the combined technologies a company uses to build/run an application) that the last 30 years could drum up. Further, we had no dedicated staffers to build a design system. But we got to work.
We audited, designed, wrote requirements, and asked over and over and over:
Is this really what we want to design for?
How can we better serve the +5,000 healthcare customers who use symplr’s products and services?
In response, we built the symplr Alloy design system to meet the varied but specific needs of our healthcare operations users.
What is the symplr Alloy design?
Two years later I presented an update about Alloy to our larger Engineering and Product group. I was so proud to look back and say that we have:
- Coded 83 components
- Actively adopted parts of the system in 11 of our products
- All our new products are being built in Alloy from the ground up
- We have two full-time designers setting standards and managing compliance
- We have a five-person engineering team building accessible, responsive components
- We’re making accessibility and responsive enhancements every day
- And it looks great
As a senior director of user experience, I used to worry that if we didn’t nail a solid and useful system, we would lose hearts and minds and stymie adoption. We couldn’t grow the system if we had no adoptees.
I am confident we have passed that point of inflection through a combination of incentives, benefits, and an excellent developer and designer experience.
I am also confident that the system is well established and well trusted—milestones that took grit and energy to achieve.
What's next for Alloy?
symplr has a wonderful and patient team that is constantly rethinking how we deliver Alloy. We have an open-minded product and engineering group who have handled the churn and change with curiosity and collaboration. We had help from experts at GoInvo and BigMedium who refined and advanced our system in ways we could not achieve alone. Finally, we have a supportive executive team that promoted and financed our growth.
Design systems are living, breathing processes that require a lot of listening and tweaking, and the same is true of Alloy. The work we do in Figma is just a small fraction of what we have to create and support. It takes skill in change management, user training, and process management to create something that thousands of people will use every day.
Tackling a similar design project at your organization? My advice is to take your time and get the right people behind you. Keep your long-term goals top of mind so you build what is truly needed. Over-communicate and over-deliver, and most importantly, nerd out on all the amazing experiences you are helping to create!