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Creating Athena, a Scalable Design System

Developing a custom, cohesive, and scalable design system | Via: FDO

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Creating Athena helped reduce implementation times by 40%

Federato initially launched their product with a cobbled-together design system based on IBM’s Carbon DS.. The company was facing rapid growth and a need to scale the product. We needed a custom, cohesive and scalable design system that would provide a foundation for us to build and ship rapidly.

As it wasn’t built or designed for our platform, the Carbon based design system lead to inconsistencies in visual elements, interactions, and user experiences across different features and areas of the product. Different teams had developed their own design patterns, leading to fragmentation and inconsistencies across the product. The legacy codebase and technical debt made it difficult to implement design, UX and feature changes efficiently.

Shortly after I took over as Head of Design, I initiated a program to develop a custom, cohesive, and scalable design system from the ground up. We performed a comprehensive design audit, identifying inconsistencies, technical limitations, and areas for improvement. We collaborated closely with engineering teams to align the design system with code, house that code in Storybook and establish a scalable foundation. We developed a modular and extensible design system with clear guidelines, documentation, and a component library. I organized a bi-weekly meeting that we ran throughout the process of developing the system, and provided guidance to ensure smooth adoption. We established a governance model to maintain the design system’s integrity and facilitate collaboration between design and engineering.

Key Results

  • Consistency of feature output increased significantly
  • Average design time reduced from 10 – 12 days to 5 – 7 days
  • Average implementation time reduced from 12+ weeks to 8 weeks



Product Design • UX • Visual Design • Research


B2B SaaS • Insurtech • Workflow Management


Head of Product Design


Documentation and Components in the design system library