Speaker Spotlight: Morgane Peng

What does a typical day look like for you?

My day usually starts with some cappuccino and breakfast with the team when we're in the office. If I'm working from home, then it's just me and my inbox of emails to prioritise and start sorting out. These typically consist of answering questions and giving inputs to projects or the team, and presenting our platform strategy and design methodologies to various partners. I also review our project portfolio to make sure that the team's time is used efficiently across all our business lines.

All in all, I'm happy that I get to work both on big picture topics like our platform's design vision and strategy, and the nitty-gritty, like picking up design system reviews when I have time.

How did you get into UX design and working on design systems in particular?

I started my career in finance, working on a wide range of investment solutions in Paris and Hong Kong. I then switched to UX design as my company started to offer more and more digital solutions, and realised that we needed to understand and own these channels too. There were hundreds of digital products being built (with no guidelines or cohesion) and we needed to have a consistent voice online despite being a large organisation made of multiple entities – so a design system was the ideal tool to achieve that. And that's how I ended up working on design systems with the team.

What's the biggest challenge of building (and maintaining!) a design system in a large traditional organisation like a bank?

Managing momentum! My personal opinion is that launching a design system is difficult, but not as challenging as maintaining interest, stability and funding over time. There is always something shinier to chase, something more urgent to fix on a project. Yet design systems practitioners need stability to be able to research, decide and document decisions that impact products systematically.

What can we expect to take away from your talk at Pixel Pioneers?

How to be successful long term without following all the expected rules! I will share the lessons we learnt about not being influenced by the main design system trends and instead focusing on things that worked for us instead.

I'll also share the impacts of how design systems changed how we work in the organisation and how we're pitching this concept now to keep people's interests, momentum and funding.

What does the future hold for design systems?

Good question. ChatGPT says that they are increasingly used by developers, marketers and other stakeholders, not just designers, focus now more on accessibility and inclusivity, and can benefit from AI to suggest layout options – but apparently "human designers will still be necessary to make creative decisions and ensure that designs meet the needs of their intended audience”.

So good news for us designers. In my view though, design systems can bring much more to organisations who decide to invest in them by standardising decision making across products. In a sense, they become a collective shared brain for product design.

At Pixel Pioneers Bristol, Morgane Peng will share design systems lessons she learned over the years. The conference will also cover UI animation challenges, best practices for more accessible websites, modern tools for a better CSS development and debugging workflow, and more. Get your ticket today!