Dan Mall shares techniques for selecting pilot projects to develop and prove out design decisions for large-scale design systems:
There’s a sweet spot for great pilot candidates after planning for the pilot has begun but before it gets designed or built. If a product isn’t far enough along in planning, we likely don’t know enough about it to say whether it’ll make for a good pilot or not. But if it’s already in the process of being created or recreated, it’s probably too far along to be able to integrate parts—read: component design, patterns, and/or working code—from the design system without some amount of reffactor, which teams in need of a design system often can’t afford.
Once we find some good potential candidates in that sweet spot, there’s a set of criteria we use to determine a pilot’s potential efficacy.
Dan offers up practical foundational metrics for comparing project candidates, and you can of course supplement them with your own.
Dan, Brad, and I have begun to use this scorecard approach in our latest large-scale design-system project. Giving project candidates a hard score makes them easier to discuss inside a large organization. Scorecards like this are portable and provide apples-to-apples comparisons for projects that are often very different in substance or complexity.