When working on a design team, it’s common for designers to have to hand off particular parts of a design to other team members, stakeholders, or developers. Because of that, there are specific design deliverables that you should be familiar with.
Creating polished deliverables is a key skill you’ll need when working on a design team or with clients. At the same time, don’t be a perfectionist. This can give clients especially the wrong impression about how far along the design is. Create deliverables that express your ideas in a way that’s appropriate for the stage of the design process you’re in.
Early Stage Design Deliverables
Mood boards are one of the first deliverables you might create during the design process. Mood boards are often created to present to a client, to make sure you’re on the same page about what the general look and feel of the product should be.
Mood boards can be physical or digital boards, and generally include things like logos, typography, color palettes, images, sketches, and other design assets. The give the client and other stakeholders an idea of the direction the design is going to take. At this stage, specifics of the design are still easy to change, so gathering feedback on whether the designer’s ideas match the client’s is invaluable.
As part of the mood board, designers may include the product’s type system. The type system is a fundamental part of establishing an efficient design system (more on that in just a moment).
Specifying all of the font styles up front lets designers save time later. You’ll want to define things like the typefaces, font sizes, weight, line height, and letter spacing the design will use (keep the typographic hierarchy in mind when doing this). Just make sure that the type system is defined while thinking about your specific use case.
The overall design system is also an early-stage design decision. Design systems include all of the nuts and bolts of components and styles the designers might use. It includes the type system, but also the colors, shapes, controls, and any other essential components.
The main goal of using a design system is to reduce inconsistencies by using existing components instead of creating each element entirely from scratch. This also saves time, as you can use, say, the same button design anywhere a CTA is needed instead of creating a custom button for each one.
You can create a design system from scratch if you choose to, or you can use an existing design system such as Google’s Material Design. You’ll have to consider whether the product you’re creating would benefit from an existing, recognizable design system or not. For example, if you’re designing an Android app, using Material Design would likely present a better user experience than creating something entirely from scratch.
Another element of the design system is the grid system you’re using. Grid systems are essential for creating organized, human-oriented designs. Grid systems include a network of straight lines (both vertical and horizontal) that help designers align content consistently throughout the project and across different screen sizes.
Grids enhance visual hierarchy and can make even super complex designs appear logical and uncluttered. Grids provide structure to designs, and also gives designers a guide for how to lay out components without having to calculate spacing for every single element.