What Is a Component Library and Why Should You Use One for UI Development?

What is a component library

A component library is a pretty handy thing to have, especially if you need to scale fast.

Take Netflix, Uber, and Twilio. They all leveraged speedy and impressive growth using design systems built from component libraries.

And while some would argue the case for building their own as part of their enterprise design system, the time and resources needed to build from scratch often outweigh any long-term gain.

Instead, when optimizing development across many platforms, it’s wise to consider using a component library.

By offering an accessible, open-source repository of production-ready, customizable, and reusable code components—like buttons and accordions—component libraries let UI and UX designers leverage faster development and growth.

A component library can offer a single source of truth

As part of any design system, a component library can reduce the risk of any variation between products, or ending up with different components in different places. They handle the source code for UI elements and usually leverage CSS and JavaScript.

React is a prime example of a popular open-source framework, developed by Facebook as a component library but since grown into a large ecosystem for creating apps, static sites, and desktop applications.

Plus, there are many more advantages worth highlighting: 

  • Accessibility: As a single repository for housing ready-made, reusable components, a component library offers quick access to developers and designers everywhere. This improves collaboration and communication between developers and designers working across teams.
  • Reduced code duplication: Often, code gets duplicated across varying designs and projects. But with a component library, there’s no need to convert the design to code. Instead, you can use the code component to design with no further development.
  • Consistency: Promoting a single source of truth is more likely with a component library. By enabling consistent UI and UX across entire projects, it’s easier to achieve uniformity. And this is a key advantage over different designers working across a range of designs. 
  • Speed: By avoiding building from the bottom up, teams save time. Instead of redesigning or creating a calendar, it’s already there to use. Plus, thanks to a set of ready-made, pre-set components, teams can avoid any drawn-out, time-draining decision-making processes they may have once faced. 
  • Compatibility: Frontend developers can struggle with ensuring cross-browser and cross-device compatibility. But a component library will go a long way to avoiding incompatibility through standardization.

When is it best to use a component library?

There are some particular situations where a component library can add measurable value to a project. So let’s look at what they are: 

Code-first prototyping

Projects that focus on functionality over visual design are more likely to benefit from a component library. Plus, prototyping with code is more efficient than starting with images and then converting them into code. So rather than expecting developers to interpret image-based designs and then create the codes, they simply take the code component from the ready-made design.

This also opens up the chance for developers to design with pre-built components without worrying about any lack of design skills.

When you lack the skills or experience to build your own

Creating your own component library or developing one as part of your own enterprise design system may be your dream. But this may not be a reality when your team lacks experience in building reusable UI components or you’re working to tight project deadlines. 

Instead, integrated component libraries provide all the code components designers and developers need to test functionality, usability, and design before conversion to digital products.

If you’re a smaller company or team

Startups and small or medium-sized businesses may need to be more careful with financial resources. And with a wide range of effective, versatile, open-source component libraries around, smaller companies can set themselves up to scale, step by step. After all, no industry giant got there overnight. And many of them continue to stick with their original component library throughout their evolution.

There are some exceptional tools available to help you scale 

If it’s not yet clear how you’ll benefit from a component library, then here are some questions that could prompt your thinking:

1. Do you see developers building the same components for each project but with slight variations?

2. Are any developers confused about which UI or UX convention they should use in interfaces?

3. Do you need to release updates and changes fast?

4. Do you need a lot of customization?

5. Are you looking for a combined design system and component library?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then consider Storybook.

Storybook

Storybook is an open-source tool for developing UI components in 15 different frameworks, among others the most popular ones: React, Vue, and Angular. It’s a combined coded design system and component library that acts as a sandbox for effective components and page development, testing, and documentation. Your developers can take a more effective component-driven approach over a visual one.

As Storybook is used by developers, there’s an integration with UXPin that can help you with designing as well.  With UXPin Merge technology, you can sync any Storybook with UXPin editor to design with code components. The fully functional UI elements will show up in one of the UXPin libraries so that you have access to them right away. 

Be the first to design withfrom code using innovative Merge technology

Component libraries offer the chance to standardize development, reduce code duplications, improve collaboration between teams, and drive scalability. And with so much influence over your project deliverable and team motivation, it’s important to choose the right solution for your needs.

But if you’re looking to improve design consistency and development productivity, UXPin’s Merge technology offers a unique point of integration with Storybook.

So why not be one of the first to promote a code-first approach and use our innovative Storybook integration for your first component library? 

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