Nblocks and the holy grail of consistency in product design

05.03.2022

Wouldn’t it be great if all buttons, text, margins, paddings and colours always follow a predefined beautiful pattern, and that pattern could be updated by making changes in one place only? Said every product designer since the dawn of time. I’m no exception. My name is Max and I’m the head of product at Nebulr.

One of our core concepts at Nebulr is our ambition to explore and act on new ideas fast. We aim for a time to market of 6 months, and so long we’re delivering on that promise (launched NorthWhistle and Nblocks). When trying to move that fast every discipline has to compromise on scope and detail. The obvious consequence for me is that I can’t spend the amount of time I would like to push pixels and fine tune designs. The less obvious consequence is that I also have to cut back on the time I would like to spend designing for scale and building reusable systems. Nblocks changes this.

A central part of our vision for Nblocks is to design and build in a way so we can reuse as much as possible of what we build. Since many of the challenges you face when you start forming an idea into a new product are recurring, being able to pick and choose among our existing functionality and features (which in Nblocks are modularized into “blocks”), becomes a huge win. Instead of building user management, email or data visualization modules from scratch we simply just activate them as blocks in Nblocks and the funcitonality is up and running. All and all great value for developers, let’s shift and see what this means from a product viewpoint.

I have experience from designing from scratch in startups as well as from large scale design operations in mature companies and they both share the same challenge of keeping design consistent through all user touchpoints. When products scale and design team grow it just gets harder to manage making it so much important to address this challenge from the start. Since all the blocks live under the same umbrella and come with ready to use frontend modules, they all share the same design language from the start. This means our new product will have a consistent design from the get go. It also means we can change design components in one place which propagates through the entire product. This not only means we’re delivering a better user and brand experience from the start, it also allows us to spend our energy on improving our core user experience instead of designing the same components over and over.

We’re still early into building Nblocks and at this point in time the blocks already provide developers with a great way of building fast and at the same time maintaining design consistency. Moving forward we’re already looking at how we can make it easier for product designers to control the styling of their products, may it be a editable code library or a Figma library. A great example of how Nblocks not only will provide great value to developers but also to product designers!

Which problem solved would give you the most value as a product designer? Please share and maybe we can find a solution together.

Nebulr