This is an archived version of the 2016 edition of UXLx. The current event website is at

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Nathan Curtis

Nathan Curtis is a founder and principal at EightShapes, LLC, a UX design agency founded in 2006 in Washington, DC with partner Dan Brown.

Nathan has practiced design and front end development since 1996 with keen interest in information architecture, component libraries, and helping teams start, spread and sustain cohesive design systems. Through EightShapes, he’s guided large teams and built systems from scratch at Cisco, Marriott, Wells Fargo, Hershey, US Bank, 3M, eBay, NetApp, Alcatel-Lucent, Capital One, and Yahoo.
Nathan lives in Fairfax, VA with his wife and three children and tweets about design, systems, cycling, and Arsenal at @nathanacurtis.



9:00 - 12:30

Room 1


9:00 - 12:30

Room 1

Scalable Design Systems

The role of design with large organizations is expanding, spreading across product teams and influencing decision-making at higher and higher levels. This scale makes it increasingly challenging to align designers and product teams to deliver cohesive, consistent experiences across a customer journey.

A design system is a framework of practices that bring designers and products together. It is a platform to identify, decide on, and document what to share, whether a visual style, design patterns, front-end UI components, and practices like accessibility, research, content strategy.

This workshop exposes you to the broad range of those considerations – the kinds of parts, products, people and practices involved – and equips you with tools and activities to start and spread a system yourself.

Why You Should Attend

All too often, organizations have multiple products that are disjointed and inconsistent. With a design system, your teams will have a framework to align on standards and processes.

Multiple design teams and development teams suffer from doing duplicative work, resulting in a customer journey that’s meant to be cohesive but ends up expensive and impossible to align. Design systems save organizations time and money and foster positive energy among those who value efficiency and reuse.

With a system as a backdrop, you will see your team bridge gaps products. All of that leads to the ultimate goal: creating a cohesive experience for your customers.

What You’ll Learn

This workshop will introduce design systems, participate in an immersive activity to decompose a multi-product experience, practice how to organize our style guides from the ground up.

We’ll learn about and practice how to:

  • Identify your system’s parts, people who contribute, and products to which it applies
  • Deconstruct system into its parts like a visual language, UI components, and layouts
  • Organize a library that articulate standards across diverse topics and disciplines
  • Project your system’s mission and value through a living style guide

Who is this workshop for?

Designers, front end developers, product managers, content strategists, their leadership, and anyone interested in learning how to inject design systems into their broader organization.