The case for null in design systems

Helping people guess right.

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Around 1 minutes to read

I really love Eric’s thoughts here, especially on the idea of ghost pages in design system reference sites.

In computer science, null is the intentional absence of a value. You can have one of a thing, 100 of a thing, none of a thing, or soon to have a thing. Null, however, means someone decided that you aren’t allowed to have the thing – period. Null denies it from even potentially being a thing.

Yes! It’s so difficult to tell when the absence of something you expect is intentional or not. Eric’s article helps you signal that some things aren’t there on purpose.

I’ve similarly recommended redirect pages for synonymous terms. For example, if a significant amount of people are still prone to think of the Toast component as “Notification,” create a Notification page that redirects to the Toast page and ensure both appear in search results. That redirect might be automatic, or it might be a simple page that explains the overlap and provides links to the canonical/preferred version. It’s an effective way to show the “right” system term without anyone ever having to be “wrong.”

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Thanks, Mike Davidson