September 22, 2021

What Are Design Tokens?

What Are Design Tokens?

Ever been in gatherings with a group of friends, and you realise you really do not know the real names of 20% of the people you are hanging out with but you can easily identify them all by their nicknames. Where you do not have to remember what they look like physically, but when you mention their nicknames, which is unique to them alone, everyone in that gathering or within that group automatically know who you are referring to. This is what a design token is.

A design token is like this nickname we give to UI styles to easily identify them. Design tokens are applied to different style values in your design system.

So, what are the advantages of design tokens?

Design tokens helps developers and designers alike, as it takes away the need to always keep up with different styles and elements within your design system. Tokenizing everything within the design system makes sure elements and styles are consistent, irrespective of how often the styles/elements are updated.

Other advantages includes:

  1. Design tokens help power and improve design collaboration between every stakeholder within a product team.
  2. Design tokens improves and maintains visual consistency in digital products, especially when there are different product range the design system is catering for.
  3. Design tokens helps in improving the conversion of designs with code.
  4. Design tokens are the heartbeat of a functional design system. Ensuring every style and possible element is tokenized will ensure proper management of the design system, irrespective of future iterations or updates.

Lastly, what can be tokenized

There are various building blocks (Foundational elements) that makes up the bulk of the design system, and all these styles need to be tokenized. Some of them include:

  1. Typography
  2. Spacing
  3. Iconography
  4. Colour

Contributed by:
Chris Adolphus
Design Lead @ Chaka
Connect with Chris on LinkedIn