Shaping the future of bol: “Our Design System helps speed up innovation.”

It’s been four years since bol started creating its own Design System. The main goal? To speed up innovation in a scalable way. As proud members of ‘Team Unicorn’, Product Designer Rens and Product Manager Redmar share their insights into the development and construction of the ambitious project. “As of right now, we already have 150 interfaces running on our Design System, but we’re far from done. As long as the market, technology and bol keep evolving, then so will we.”


Building with Lego bricks

What exactly is a Design System and what do we need it for? Rens breaks it down: “To friends and family I often describe it as building the ‘Lego bricks’ that form the backbone of a product; think of input fields or buttons for example. We then use design tokens to specify the colour or style of each block or button. While bol used to adjust these design elements throughout the organization, now we centralize them. Besides saving a tremendous amount of time, this way of working ensures consistency and enables the organisation to innovate faster.”

Recently, bol implemented its new visual identity, presenting the perfect moment for the Design System to shine. Rens shares enthusiastically, “Changes at the smallest level – like transitioning from ‘bol blue’ to a slightly darker blue – were implemented into our Design System and instantly transferred throughout the whole organization, making it available to over fifty teams. Moments like these really highlight the added value of what we’re doing here.”

Proud of our work

While Rens primarily focuses on design, Redmar applies his skills in a completely different field. “As Team Lead, I set the direction we’re heading towards, and decide which steps we should take to get there. While this role might typically be filled by someone with a design background, bol recognized that my experience in data-driven work actually adds more value to the project. It’s essential to demonstrate that what we’re doing, also gets us the results that we want.”

To make the necessary changes and add features based on what’s needed, both Rens and Redmar work closely with designers and software engineers within the organization. Rens: “I’m particularly proud of our recently updated table component. The code had gotten too complicated, making it hard for teams to maintain and use. After assessing the needs within the company, we combined different parts and completely rebuilt the table. I can confidently say it was our most ambitious project to date, but also our most successful one; across all interfaces using the Design System, this updated component is now most widely used.”

Redmar adds, “Completing such a big project together is really satisfying. That’s why we made sure to celebrate it properly with a release party and cake. Wins should be celebrated, and luckily, there’s plenty of opportunity for that at bol.”

Successes should be celebrated,and luckily, there's plenty ofopportunity for that at bol.

Redmar Verboom, Product Manager

A strong community

Apart from celebrating and working on ongoing projects, there is still plenty of room for growth and development within the teams. Redmar shares, “When I joined bol, I was particularly looking for a place to grow personally and professionally. I can now fully say I’ve found that here. At bol, you can make use of a training budget, join book clubs, and regularly attend conferences. Recently, we even took the initiative to organize a Design Systems afternoon, bringing together engineers, designers, and external speakers for learning and brainstorming sessions. The fact that bol supports such initiatives is incredibly valuable and, in my opinion, quite unique.”

Rens adds, “The sense of community at bol is very strong. When I started here, I immediately noticed that everyone was super helpful; no question is ever too much. This really helps me as a Product Designer since I constantly work with software engineers, designers, and direct colleagues. The communication is very open, making everyone’s needs and wants super clear.”

Exciting opportunities ahead

Where do Rens and Redmar see upcoming opportunities for the bol Design System? “Our system is always evolving, just like bol itself. Right now, we’re working on a new interface for our advertisers and intend to improve the design for website visitors with visual impairments. When we work, we always think about scalability: how can we create something useful not just for one team, but for multiple departments in the organization? Design Systems are becoming increasingly important within large organizations, and I see nothing but great opportunities for the future.”