Dr. Brennan at Penn State once told me the answer to all great engineering questions is, “it depends.”

I have talked about why MailChimp’s Pattern Lib is awesome + why you might not want it.

I have also talked about 2 other reusable component’s from Nathan Curtis’ medium article.

Today I want to follow up by answering the question: Do you need these 3 components in your design system?

I would love to give you an all sizes fits all approach but there simply isn’t one approach.

Could MailChimp have gone further and tried to implement all 8 of Nathan’s ideas?

This reminds me of recently when I decided to get a new car. It had been quite a while since I had gone through this process and quite simply the options were all over the place. It was no longer sedans, minivans, trucks and SUVs.

Now there was a multitude of in between vehicles all with very similar specs, reviews, and millions of people claiming that each one is the best.

So how did I decide which vehicle to get?

I certainly didn’t just walk out the local auto-mall and pick one out at random. I knew for the most part I would be stuck with this decision for a while. A minimum of years.

So I did a ton of research.

I was pretty confused about what I wanted.

I narrowed it down to a couple of ideas.

I went out and test drove some SUV’s in my price range. They pretty much all sucked. Very small 4 cylinder engines. Fake four wheel drive which was much more like front wheel drive. Very poor milage and safety. Very low towing capability.

Many of these middle of the road solutions claimed to be everything, but they ended up not being great at any one thing.

So I went back to the drawing board. I thought about it a lot. I asked myself, what is it that I do with my car the most? I tried to answer honestly.

My list turned out something like this:

  1. Long commutes, usually on the highway, mostly in minimal traffic.
  2. Shopping and moving things from place to place. Not things that need a truck, but things that were sometimes awkward in my previous car, a Honda Accord Sedan.
  3. Going on small adventures. This was driving up Highway 1 near San Francisco, driving through small mountain and coastal roads, going camping, and outdoorsy places like wildlife refuges.

Now I thought about what I wanted out of a car.

  1. Economical, but not a hybrid.
  2. Fun to drive, but not scary.
  3. Makes me feel like I am outdoors, but not a convertible.
  4. Something with lots of cargo room and that is easily configurable.

Now by going through that thought process I was able to greatly narrow what kind of car I wanted. And specifically in the range, one in particular really stood out to me.

Any guesses to what car I bought? Reply to this message and let me know 🙂

But my point is, this is the right car for me and my family.

It is most likely not the best car for you.

You want to think about what it is that your organization wants to accomplish. You also need to think about what are your needs and wants. You need to be realistic about where you can get started.

Don’t just look at MailChimp and say, yes we need that. Take a look at the options and build what is going to push your organization forward the fastest with the least amount of effort.