Senior Design Systems Designer • Manchester, UK 🐝

Show notes for episode 15 of the Diary of Design Thinking by Simon Hoang, co-hosted by Chuck Rice.

Snapshot of the Diary of Design Thinking podcast. Design Systems, ChatGPT, and Beer by Dan Donald, Chuck Rice, Simon Hoang.
You can tell who was ready for the photo.

Dan Donald, previously Zeroheight and Autotrader, is not only an engineer, designer, and product person rolled into one, but an absolute generous gem of a human being.

We’re privileged to have him with us to discuss all things Design Systems. How do we start one? What’s the best tool? Will ChatGPT change how we approach them?

Plus: what our beers of choice were, Dan’s celebrity doppelgänger, and some very wise words from Dan:

“Perfect is the enemy of the good”.

Where to listen

Listen to Season 2 Episode 5 now on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

What we discussed

  • 0:00:00 — Overview and introductions
  • 0:01:00 — Chuck, Simon, and Dan Donald’s introductions
  • 0:03:58 — Zeroheight, Storybook, and other design system tools
  • 0:05:01 — Maintaining culture as you scale, and hiring for culture
  • 0:07:59—How Dan got into Design Systems
  • 0:10:57—Types and patterns of Design Systems
  • 0:12:15—Do you even need a Design System?
  • 0:15:52 — Scoping a Design System appropriately
  • 0:17:28 — Risk to your team’s velocity when starting out
  • 0:21:20 — Forget perfect, just aim for good
  • 0:22:47 — Auditing and documenting
  • 0:24:30 — “The best way to start a Design System for startups”
  • 0:28:42 — The technicals aren’t the challenge, it’s the people
  • 0:31:11 — Managing a Design System with a design team of 3
  • 0:34:01— Outreach, and getting buy-in
  • 0:37:18 — Figma, file versioning, and branching
  • 0:39:08 — Do design and engineering need to version the same way?
  • 0:42:40 — Organising components and documentation in Figma
  • 0:47:47 — TLDR; the best way to organise or set up
  • 0:48:50 — Comedic relief: Dan’s celebrity doppelgänger
  • 0:49:49 — What beers are we drinking? (scroll down to see!)
  • 0:53:04 — Does ChatGPT affect Design Systems?
  • 0:59:18 — How does ChatGPT affect the incoming workforce?
  • 1:02:04 — What do we lose by using ChatGPT
  • 1:05:03 —Hype cycles, and the future is both incredible and boring
  • 1:06:40 — Dan’s time at Zeroheight
  • 1:08:52 — What’s the best tool to host a Design System?
  • 1:11:06 — Alternative Design System tools
  • 1:14:31 — There’s no wrong way to do things
  • 1:16:01 — Uno makes an appearance
  • 1:16:59 — Dan’s wise words for anyone trying to build a Design System
  • 1:17:41 — First wrap-up of the episode
  • 1:18:25 — Dan’s next steps (he might still be looking!)
  • 1:22:13 — Dan’s content, ebooks, and Design System Triage
  • 1:24:29 — Last words of Wisdom from Simon and Dan


  • Verdant: Into the water I go, 4.2% (Dan)
  • Flag: Spéciale, 5.6% (Simon)
  • Perła: Miodową honey beer, 5.4% (Chuck)


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