Create a unifying digital design system that enables consistency at scale.
The product, development, and innovation department at Deutsche Bahn decided to develop a series of ‘travel assistant’ digital products. The angle would be to create a consistent look and feel to all future developed Deutsche Bahn products that would coincide with the customer journey.
In order to do this a Design System should be developed to create continuity across all the products (DPP / Digital Product Platform). It should enable a lean approach to building and testing the products that would be created for the project. It would house components, documentation and could be used for a decentralized team of developers and designers.
Our Co-Founder Paul was the design lead on the project from the very beginning of the project. Working alongside Product & UX Design Studio, DayOne - Berlin and img.ag on the project amongst other contributors.
Rapid Testing and Proof of Concept
New business models had to be swiftly tested through Proof of Concepts within existing DB services or via UX Labs. Potential collaborations with entertainment or news providers were to seamlessly integrate into the DB ecosystem, preserving their own branding and identity. The cross-platform, parallel development of app and web projects necessitated clear and transparent design guidelines.
The Design System encompassed a comprehensive set of tools essential for product development, including UI kits, code snippets, UX patterns, and documentation. Its primary objective was to establish DPP (Digital Product Platform) as a central point of reference, enabling all teams to align their product development efforts.
Beyond its role as a design system, DPP played a pivotal role in shaping the organizational culture and guiding its evolution over time. It fostered a sense of unity among team members, encouraging collaborative work and individual growth within the organization.
A Decentralized and Transparent Setup
DesignOps aims to optimize the design workflows and enhance collaboration within the team. By implementing standardized processes, tools, and communication channels, we worked together more efficiently and delivered higher-quality design assets.
WCAG Standards & Component scaling
At Deutsche Bahn products should be usable and built for every traveller within Germany without any restrictions. Similar to how stations and trains consider barrier-free use, the products of the (BahnX innovation) internal team should also meet these requirements. In the first step, we focused on people with visual and/or colour impairments. Each component was tested for sufficient contrast and with various colour filters.
The development team programmed interfaces that also worked with enlarged fonts that can be read aloud by the system if required. Various plugins, the WCAG guidelines and guidelines of Android and iOS supported us in this.
A flexible component library enables adaptability while personalizing every digital touchpoint.
A Central Point of Truth
A design system plays a huge role in unifying not only design but culture too. It is the central glue that brings products to life, quickly and consistently.
Ownership is crucial and a shared responsibility is essential to keep a design system growing and flourishing. It is an investment that will undoubtedly constantly shift, shape and shift.
The nature of such a project should be celebrated in the fact that a design system is never done, products are always in beta, the user must and should always come first and a Digital Product Platform is a beacon rather than a burden.