In today’s market, your website is your business’s lifeline, connecting it to the digital world, making the health of your design system a paramount focus for continued success. With such an important focus on design, how can you keep your system healthy and iterating?

This article delves into the significance of design system audits, a crucial process for maintaining and enhancing your design foundation. Understanding the intricacies of a design system audit is key to ensuring the success and coherence of your brand’s digital presence.

But who is a design system audit for? Let’s break it down a bit, shall we? For the designers out there, think of a design system audit as your deep dive into the world of design systems. You’ll get to explore the nuts and bolts of what makes design tick in the digital realm. It’s like understanding the DNA of great user experiences – and who wouldn’t want to crack that code?

Now, for the business leaders reading this, we’re talking about the backbone of your brand’s digital identity. A healthy design system isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have strategic asset that can set your brand apart in a crowded marketplace. It’s about making sure that every digital touchpoint resonates with your brand’s voice and vision. Pretty crucial, right?

And developers, you’re not left out of this conversation. Imagine a world where your design and development processes are so seamlessly integrated that your workflow just flows. That’s the power of a strong design foundation. It’s about making your life easier, reducing those back-and-forths, and helping you focus on what you do best – creating amazing digital experiences.

So, as we embark on this journey through the world of design system audits, remember that this isn’t just about keeping up with the latest design trends. It’s about understanding the core of what makes a digital experience truly stand out – for everyone involved in the process. From the aesthetics that catch the user’s eye to the underlying structure that holds it all together, we’re covering it all. Let’s dive in and discover how a well-audited design system can be a game-changer for your brand, your team, and your users.

What You’ll Discover:

  • What is a design system audit?

  • The why behind design system audits

  • Nailing the components of a design system audit

  • Recognizing the need for a design system audit

  • DOOR3’s methodology for conducting a design system audit

  • 3 best practices for your design system audit

  • Stakeholder engagement in design system audits

What is a Design System Audit?

Before we can effectively discuss what a design system audit is, we need to break down what a design system is first.

Now if you want to get into the nitty gritty of design systems and how they work, check out our comprehensive enterprise design system guide. It’s loaded with lots of highly practical and useful information about all facets of design systems, and it’s actually what we are going to use to help define design systems! A design system consists of a specific set of components that when utilized relationally create a consistent design throughout the product. It is a repository of all the elements that form an enterprise app design, website, or any digital product.

To quote our design team practice lead, Tom Mcclean, “It is the one source of truth that we can all reflect back to and see as the main component, the main source of everything, critical for system design basics.”

With that said, a design system audit is a thorough examination of a product’s design elements to ensure consistency, usability, and efficiency.

DOOR3 design system audit expert insight

“Design system audits are like having a health check on your digital product! We check the vitals for signs of concern or underlying issues, and recommend cures for any that we might find” Tom said.

“Using a combination of our UX expertise, and comparison against well-defined digital standards, we can identify issues and where your product falls short of expectations. It is a game changer! They help us turn ‘okay’ designs into ‘wow, this is awesome’ experiences. It’s about using design adjustments to shape a cohesive brand identity that resonates with users and streamlines development processes.”

The why behind design system audits

Design system audits serve as a comprehensive evaluation tool, ensuring that every aspect of your design system aligns perfectly with your brand’s ethos, user expectations, and technical requirements. Let’s delve deeper into why these audits are so essential.

Beyond just the visual appeal, design system audits delve into the technical performance of your design system. This includes assessing aspects like load times and responsiveness, which are crucial for a seamless and efficient user experience. Identifying and addressing technical issues ensures that users enjoy a smooth interaction with your digital products.

A significant benefit of conducting design system audits is the identification and rectification of usability issues. Design system audits help uncover challenges in navigation, interaction, and overall user interface, which can impact user experience and conversion rates. By resolving these issues, you enhance the usability of your product, leading to better user retention and satisfaction.

Moreover, regular design system audits foster an environment of continuous improvement and innovation. They keep your digital products up-to-date with current design trends, user preferences, and emerging technologies, ensuring that your offerings remain competitive in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Design system audits are more than just a routine check-up; they are a strategic tool that aligns your digital products with your overarching business goals. They ensure that every aspect of your design system contributes effectively to your business’s success, making them an indispensable part of your digital strategy.

A DOOR3 example: Retrievr


Retrievr, a startup revolutionizing recycling services, approached DOOR3 to elevate their user experience. The cornerstone of our strategy was a comprehensive UX audit, a critical step that laid the groundwork for the project’s success.

In conducting the audit, we meticulously analyzed Retrievr’s interaction design and user flows. This deep dive enabled us to identify and prioritize key usability issues, setting a clear direction for the subsequent design overhaul. The audit’s insights were instrumental in shaping a user interface that catered to a diverse audience, balancing simplicity for less tech-savvy users with the sophistication desired by a younger, tech-oriented demographic.

The implementation of a design system, a direct outcome of the audit findings, streamlined the development process for Retrievr’s team. This system not only facilitated a complete reskinning of the application but also supported the introduction of a desktop experience, significantly enhancing the product’s reach and usability.

Moreover, the audit played a pivotal role in integrating Retrievr’s new pricing structure and refund process into the app’s design. This was particularly crucial as the startup was scaling up, backed by major tech giants. The audit ensured that these critical business changes were seamlessly woven into the user experience, aligning with Retrievr’s expansion goals. Retrievr’s audit was not just a preliminary step but the linchpin of our engagement with Retrievr. It provided the essential insights and direction needed to deliver a user experience that was not only aligned with the startup’s immediate needs but also poised it for future growth and success. It was highly effective too, helping them decrease their bounce rate by 50%.

Imagine what you could do with a 50% increase in captive audience for your product! Nailing the components of a design system audit A comprehensive design system audit involves dissecting complex design elements into manageable components, focusing on UI/UX best practices, and recognizing the nuances of individual design elements.

Before you touch anything, you need to define objectives and scope. What are you aiming to achieve? This could include improving usability, ensuring brand consistency, or enhancing technical performance. Also, determine the scope of the audit – will it cover the entire design system or focus on specific components like UI elements, branding, or code efficiency?

With objectives and scope in place, resource gathering follows. Collect all relevant documentation, including style guides, design patterns, component libraries, and any existing user research. This information provides a baseline understanding of the current state of the design system, and how it is aligned (or misaligned) to your objectives.

With materials in hand, now we can get analytical. The pillars we are looking for across a design system include:


A successful design system maintains these four elements across all of its components. UI patterns must be consistent or they become confusing. User flow analyses should showcase usability or they won’t be traveled through. Every component should be scalable or your business won’t grow. And your product should be accessible by all. Each element stands as a totem for how your system should operate. To learn more about each component of a design system, review our enterprise design system blog, which includes a list of all relevant components and their roles.

While DOOR3’s design system audit process may vary depending on the client’s needs, here is an overview of our general design system audit process:

1. Component inventory

  • Document and categorize all components within the design system.

  • Identify variations and versions of each component.

2. Consistency check

  • Ensure visual consistency across all components.

  • Check for alignment with brand guidelines and visual design principles.

3. Documentation review

  • Evaluate the completeness and clarity of documentation for each component.

  • Verify that guidelines include usage examples, code snippets, and design rationale.

4. Accessibility compliance

  • Check if components meet accessibility standards.

  • Evaluate the design system’s documentation for accessibility guidance.

5. Responsive design

  • Assess how components adapt to different screen sizes and devices.

  • Ensure responsive behavior is consistent and functional.

6. Interoperability

  • Test how well components work together within the design system.

  • Check for conflicts or inconsistencies when combining different components.

7. Version control

  • Evaluate the versioning and update processes for the design system.

  • Ensure that teams are using the latest versions and updates.

8. Collaboration

  • Evaluate how well teams collaborate on using and contributing to the design system.

  • Ensure that feedback loops are in place for continuous improvement.

9. Performance optimization

  • Check the performance impact of using components from the design system.

  • Optimize components for speed and efficiency.

10. Scalability

  • Assess the scalability of the design system as new components or features are added.

  • Ensure that the design system can accommodate future growth.

11. Training and onboarding

  • Evaluate the onboarding process for new team members to the design system.

  • Ensure that training materials are comprehensive and accessible.

  • Each item on this list helps to guarantee that our design system audit covers every aspect of the system, helping uncover little inconsistencies that could be having a large impact on the business.

12. Small change big impact

Let’s use the DOOR3 website as an example of small changes making big impacts. A notable aspect of our website is the ‘Contact Us’ button on the home page, a crucial element for client interaction and business inquiries.

Initially, the ‘Contact Us’ button on the DOOR3 website was designed to be functional and visible, yet it blended somewhat with the overall design theme. Recognizing the potential for improvement, DOOR3 implemented a subtle but impactful design change to this button.

By altering its color, size, placement slightly, we significantly increased its visibility and user interaction. This small tweak is a strategic move to enhance user engagement, making it easier and more inviting for potential clients to initiate contact.

Simple changes like this discovered during a design system audit can have a huge impact, for us, that includes an increased number of prospective partners through our home page.

Recognizing the need for a design audit


Identifying the need for a design system audit requires an understanding of design principles, user experience metrics, and the ability to spot subtle inconsistencies. Let’s look at some of the most relevant key indicators to assessing the need for a design system audit.

1. User feedback and complaints

One of the most direct indicators is feedback from users. If you’re receiving consistent complaints or suggestions about the usability, aesthetics, or functionality of your product, it’s a clear sign that your design system needs reevaluation.

2. Declining user engagement metrics

Analyzing user engagement metrics like time spent on the site, bounce rates, or click-through rates can reveal a lot. A decline in these metrics often suggests that users are not finding the design intuitive or engaging enough.

3. Inconsistency across platforms

If your brand has multiple digital touchpoints (like a website, mobile app, and social media platforms), inconsistency in design across these platforms can confuse users and dilute your brand identity. A design audit can help in achieving a cohesive and consistent user experience.

4. Difficulty in implementing new features

When your development team struggles to implement new features or make updates due to the limitations of the current design system, it’s a sign that the system may be outdated or not scalable enough.

5. Competitor advancements

Keeping an eye on competitors can also indicate the need for a design audit. If competitors are offering a more modern, user-friendly experience, it might be time to reevaluate your own design system to stay competitive.

6. Accessibility and compliance issues

If your design system does not meet current accessibility standards or legal compliance requirements, an audit is necessary to identify and rectify these issues.

DOOR3’s methodology for conducting a design system audit

So with all the design studios out in the current market, how is DOOR3’s design methodology a standout in the industry?

The reality is that most design companies follow a similar process when building a design system, going through a documentation, analysis, and planning process. So why not just download a free design system off the internet, change a few colors, and call it a day?

Because systems like those aren’t built to be solutions to business problems. They lack perspective, research, and creativity. All elements that only an experienced design team can implement.

“We understand that a design system impacts real people, not just the technical aspects of a project. Our human-centric approach ensures our design systems are empathetic and responsive to user needs, not just a reskin of previously existing materials.” - Cassie Ang Yu, UX Designer

3 best practices for your design audit


1. Collaborate with all relevant stakeholders

You’re building a product that everyone will use, so siloing the development of a system like this will only reduce its efficacy. Engaging cross-functional teams and incorporating user feedback ensures a comprehensive and effective audit.

2. Iterative Testing and Feedback

Design systems are not a one-and-done project. Implement an iterative process where testing and feedback are continuous. This approach allows for the identification and resolution of issues in real-time, ensuring that the design system evolves to meet current and future needs effectively. Regular testing with actual users helps in understanding the practical challenges and preferences, leading to a user-centric design system.

With our human-centric approach, user testing is a cornerstone of our methodology. We involve relevant stakeholders, including employees, in the testing process, fostering a sense of ownership and buy-in among the team. This inclusive approach refines the user experience and aligns the design system with internal workflows and expectations.

What’s gathered during user testing influences our research process, directing our team’s perspective to allow for nuance into the system. Our thorough research helps us tailor the design system to address specific challenges rather than creating a generic brand guide. We build design systems that solve real-world problems, focusing on improving user engagement, streamlining development processes, and enhancing brand consistency.

Lastly, a key aspect of our methodology is comprehensive documentation. We thoroughly document our design systems, considering future users and asking ourselves, “Who is the next person that will use this system?” This ensures our design systems are adaptable for future needs, making them a lasting asset for any project.

3. Thorough Documentation and Knowledge Sharing

Maintain detailed documentation throughout the audit process. This should include changes made, rationales behind decisions, and guidelines for future modifications. Effective documentation ensures that the design system remains accessible and understandable for current and future team members. It also facilitates knowledge sharing, making it easier for new team members to understand and work with the design system.

Let’s look at our award winning work with Dr. Treat for example. Dr. Treat’s consistency through experience could only be maintained through a well documented system, and that consistency speaks for itself. Dr. Treat has grown since we developed their design system, reaching two million dollars in seed funding.

To raise two million dollars, investors have to be impressed with your user experience. To raise more, investors need to see your capacity to scale and iterate, while maintaining that exceptional user experience. This is only possible with a well documented system, like the one provided by DOOR3.

Stakeholder engagement in design system audits

Sometimes, half the battle is knowing the right questions to ask. Effective stakeholder engagement involves crafting insightful questions tailored for different groups like Product Managers, Designers, Developers, and Marketers to gain perspective.

For Product Managers, the questions might focus on how the design system aligns with the product roadmap and business objectives. Queries could include, “How does the current design system support your product goals?” or “Are there elements in the design system that hinder product scalability or adaptability?”

Designers, on the other hand, would require questions centered around creativity and usability. For them, relevant questions could be, “How does the design system facilitate your creative process?” or “Are there aspects of the design system that limit user experience enhancements?”

When engaging with Developers, the focus should shift to technical aspects and implementation. Questions like, “How efficiently can you apply the design system in development processes?” or “What challenges do you face when integrating new design elements?” would be pertinent.

For Marketers, the questions should explore the design system’s impact on brand perception and marketing strategies. Asking, “How does the design system reinforce our brand identity?” or “Are there design elements that you feel could better support marketing campaigns?” would yield valuable insights.

Our work with Grace and Mercy is an excellent example of asking the right questions. We asked stakeholders from multiple departments about their challenges with the current system, and we were able to synthesize our insights from stakeholder interviews into common clusters, which were used to create a prioritized list of usability improvements.

Many of the issues were derived from a content to experience disconnect, the product content itself was enjoyed, but the experience getting there was bumpy, and was keeping younger audience demographics from engaging. Seeing this common through line gave us the perspective we needed to kill two birds with one stone, resulting in happy clients and an ongoing partnership.

By asking the right questions, tailored to each group’s unique role and perspective, you can uncover invaluable insights that might otherwise be overlooked. This approach not only ensures that the audit is comprehensive but also fosters a sense of involvement and buy-in among all stakeholders, making the design system more effective and widely accepted across the organization.

Design system audits by DOOR3

Design system audits are an integral part to the overall health of your digital footprint, but they are part of a larger design ecosystem your company needs for growth.

At DOOR3 we don’t stop at audits. Our design system services encompass a full spectrum of solutions - from developing a new design system from scratch to refining and documenting your existing one. We ensure that your design system is not only visually appealing but also functional, scalable, and adaptable to future needs.

Partnering with DOOR3 means choosing a path to digital excellence. Our team of experts is dedicated to delivering solutions that are not only on time and on budget but also innovative and impactful. Let us help you make a lasting impression in the digital world with a design system that stands out and delivers results.

Learn more about how our design system services can revolutionize your digital experience.

Read More:

Automated Systems Design: Streamlining Efficiency and Innovation

Integrated Systems Design: Creating Harmony in Technology

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