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Atomic Design Framework And Its Benefits

May 25, 2019 |
Blog, Design, Technology, Web Design
Atomic Design Framework

Design systems have gained massive popularity over the last few years have progressed in terms of technical ability and of course popularity. Design systems are a method to translate a consistent experience and visual language across a product when working on different touch-points. If you are a front-end developer, you have probably heard of a design system known as Atomic Design. These design principles were introduced by Brad Frost. Atomic Design is a methodology that involves breaking down a website layout into its basic components, which are then reused throughout the website.

The Atomic Design framework helps companies to build consistent design systems. The methodology breaks down a page design into five distinct stages:

  1. Atoms – In chemistry, atoms are the basic building blocks of all matter. Each chemical element has distinct properties. In the design world, atoms comprise of all foundational building blocks or the basic assets of the product. These include basic HTML elements like forms, fields, inputs, buttons, type, labels, colors, spacing and others, that can’t be further broken down.
  2. Molecules – Molecules are a group of atoms put together to take on new properties or to complete a function. In design systems, Molecules are simple groups of UI elements functioning as a unit. For example, a search box, which includes two atoms, an input field and a button.
  3. Organisms – Atoms and molecules are simple functional forms in our design systems that can be reused across a product. However, organisms are a bit more complex. It comprises groups of molecules or atoms which tend to form more distinct sections of an entire interface. A header of a website is an example of an organism.
  4. Templates – Organisms can further be used to create various templates of larger layouts containing multiple features. Templates are page level structures that form a layout. Templates must always focus on the page’s core structure and not on the final content of the page.
  5. Pages – The final and polished state are pages. It must include content, all visual designs, and the final UI.

There is a whole bunch of benefits of using Atomic Design. Some of the most important ones are stated below:


Once the components are split into basic atoms, it’s easy to see which parts of the website can be reused, and how other molecules or organisms can be developed by playing around with these atoms. This method is less time-consuming than re-designing so many elements. Also, it helps a designer to focus on the style, rather than the re-designing aspect. The designs can easily be shared within the team to help everyone collaborate on the project.

Let’s say a website only contains five atoms: a large image, a small image, a paragraph, a list item and a link. You could create a very usable web page by duplicating or using the atoms in various combinations.


If a site is developed from scratch using Atomic Design principles, all the atoms and molecules can serve as a basic style guide. Even if these principles are introduced at a later stage of development, it isn’t difficult to identify and extend the basic components. they can be combined together in different combinations to construct more pages. However, it is suggested to create a site atomically from the beginning, rather than trying to introduce Atomic Design principles later on. It simplifies the process of style guide creation.

The code of an atomically designed website is typically much easier and simpler to read than one created in a conventional way. It not only implies during the start of creating a website, but even years after, when the site is being looked back on for references or minor changes.

The designing process is simplified and proper documentation about the use and location of atoms, molecules and organisms is maintained. this makes it easy to interpret the code. Due to the simplicity of the code, it is easier to explain to a new developer.

Easy to update

If the website is designed using Atomic Design, the entire website will contain similar basic elements, which we call atoms. Therefore, it’s kind of easy to keep the project up to date. We can update every atom the way we want. Change something at one place and it automatically changes everywhere in the project.

The effect of specific changes on the entire project can be easily shown to the team, without having to change it everywhere. Appropriate feedback can be collected regarding the changes, and if required, the changes can easily be rolled back with minimum efforts. This saves a lot of efforts and time.

Consistent code

In an Atomic Design, identified and pre-defined atoms are used to develop the layout. Hence, it is easy to locate components at different places, across the website. Consistency of the code increases multiple folds and chances of writing a duplicate code decreases substantially.

For example, someone creates a site without using Atomic Design and they need a black button in future. They would need to search the entire website. Once found, they will have to copy and paste that code to the new instance. In case, they don’t find one, they would have to create one. That’s a tiresome process and wastes a lot of time and energy. However, with Atomic Design, it is easy to go back and review the list of atoms to find that exact black button.

Modular file structure

Although Atomic Design is very common when it comes to markup (HTML), these techniques can also be used for CSS, JavaScript etc. Atomic Design can work with any language used to create websites, to make the overall code more modular and reusable.

That said, with the arrival of things like HTML components it is suggested to separate CSS and JavaScript specific to an atom into its own folder along with the HTML. So, if a need arises and you need to delete or update anything, you know exactly where to go and what to change.

Atomic design is here to stay. Breaking down big projects into molecules, organisms and templates is an efficient way of working. It is time efficient and serves the purpose of remotely working on the project with different team members. Speak to our team of experts and learn how you can design more efficiently.

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