Implementing a Design System for a New SaaS Product

Practice Automations β€’ 2022

WORKING FOR Practice Automations (PAPM) Practice Automations (PAPM) is a Texas-based healthcare startup set to transform the RCM sector with its advanced SaaS product. Despite the digital age, the industry remains paper-based and fragmented, grappling with the complexities of the US healthcare billing system. PAPM is determined to change this by developing user-friendly, AI-driven solutions for these companies.
ROLE Product Designer & Information Architect
TEAM Derek Sanborn, Product Manager Mike Gonzalez, UX Lead & UX Researcher Shahid Bashir, Engineer

Introduction / Problem:

In the rapidly evolving landscape of SaaS products, consistency in user experience and interface design is paramount. For PAPM, while the software's functionality was taking shape, there was a growing need to ensure that the user interface remained consistent, intuitive, and aligned with the brand's identity. The challenge was to implement a design system that would not only streamline the development process but also resonate with our brand and the unique needs of our users.


We knew from the outset that crafting a design system from scratch was beyond the scope of this product. Taking into account the amount of effort, time, and resources required, it was not feasible. Moreover, we understood that such an endeavor was not essential for a startup like PAPM, and that by leveraging existing design systems, we could save a tremendous amount of time to focus on the most important part: gaining a thorough understanding of the RCM billing process and designing effective and intuitive solutions for this industry.

But, before diving into the implementation, we recognized the importance of making an informed decision. We initiated our journey with thorough research, exploring various design systems available in the market. This allowed us to weigh the pros and cons of each, considering factors like adaptability, community support, and alignment with our project's scale and complexity. Recognizing the benefits of leveraging existing frameworks, we decided to adopt Tailwind, a popular design system. However, a one-size-fits-all approach wouldn't suffice. We needed to tailor Tailwind to our specific requirements, ensuring it aligned with our branding and catered to the unique functionalities of our software.


Our first step was to dissect Tailwind, understanding its core principles, components, and styles. With this foundation, we began the customization process:

  • Branding Alignment: We started by infusing our brand's identity into the design system. This involved adapting color palettes and typography styles to ensure they were in line with PAPM's branding guidelines.
  • Component Redesign: While Tailwind offered a plethora of components, not all were a perfect fit for our needs. We redesigned certain components, ensuring they catered to the specific functionalities of our software.
  • New Component Creation: Some of our features required entirely new components. These were designed from scratch, ensuring they were both functional and consistent with the overall design language.
  • Iterative Feedback: Throughout the process, we engaged with developers and users, gathering feedback and making iterative changes. This ensured that our adapted design system was not only aesthetically pleasing but also technically feasible and user-friendly.


The result was a customized version of Tailwind that truly felt like PAPM's own. Our design system now had components that were tailor-made for our software's functionalities, all while maintaining a consistent look and feel. The color and typography choices resonated with our brand's identity, ensuring a cohesive experience across all touchpoints.

Design System Branding Adjustments
Design System Branding Adjustments
Part of the design system
Part of the design system

Conclusion, Reflections & Learnings

Implementing and customizing the design system was a transformative journey for PAPM. It streamlined our design and development processes, ensuring faster iterations and a consistent user experience. Reflecting on the project, the importance of a design system's adaptability became evident. While leveraging existing frameworks can accelerate the process, customization is key to ensuring the system aligns with specific needs. This project reinforced the belief that a design system is not just about aesthetics; it's about creating a seamless and efficient experience for both developers and users.

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πŸš€ Stefano Tavanielli

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