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Beware of the Design System Scams

Watch Out for Design Systems Scams

You’re an entrepreneur planning to start a new business. You’re looking for ways to cut costs and increase your profits, so you decide to invest in a design system. But before you do, it’s crucial to be wary of design system scams and how to avoid them.

Many companies will sell you a design system different from what they claim it to be. They’ll promise all kinds of benefits. But they’re selling you something that isn’t worth the price tag.

So, this article will help you identify design system scams and how to avoid them.

What is a Design System?

A design system is a collection of reusable components, templates, guidelines, and processes. They make it easier for your team to create consistent experiences. It’s a set of tools that allow you to build websites faster with less effort.

Design systems simplify building websites. They provide a clear set of rules and guidelines for everyone on your team. Creating a design system will create consistent experiences across your projects. You’ll still have room for creativity.

Most Common Design System Scams

Here are the most common design system scams you should know:

1. You Can’t Access the Backend

The back end of your design system is where the magic happens. It’s where you can see all the code and assets that make up your design system. The back end also lets you edit color palettes, typography rules, and other elements.

Some scammers will now promise you a design system but deny you access to the backend. They’ll charge you for access, but then they won’t give it to you. This is a scam because it leaves you with no way of editing your design system.

2. The Designer Asks for a Large Payment Upfront to Secure the Work

No legitimate designer will ask for a large payment upfront. This is because they know the work is done once it’s done. They should build your design system template to your specifications if you’re paying someone for it.

Yes, some designers ask for upfront payments. But the amount is usually reasonable. It reflects that they’re working on an ongoing project.

3. You Don’t Get What You Paid For

Another design system scam you should look for is a designer who doesn’t provide you with what you paid for. They might take your money and then disappear or give you something that’s not very good. This can happen because they don’t need help understanding the work they’re doing. It can also be because they cut corners to save time.

A design system not to your specifications can be a problem because it may not work the way you want it to. If the designer doesn’t understand your needs, they’ll give you something that doesn’t fit. Or they might take shortcuts and only provide some elements that make up a design system.

4. The Designer Promises an Unusual Delivery Time

The next design system scam to look out for is when someone says they can build your website in one week or less. Building a website takes time, and it’s not something you should expect to do in just a few days or weeks. It also depends on what you’re asking them to do.

They could do it quickly if you want a Simple SaaS landing page without custom functionality. But suppose you need more complex functionality like eCommerce or membership management. Then it will take a lot longer.

Sadly, many designers try to pull this scam and promise unrealistic delivery times. This is because they know you’ll go with the lowest bidder.

5. Your Website Doesn’t Work

The reason you’re paying for a design system is that it’s going to save you money. It will help you build faster and cheaper by providing a decent framework. This framework lets everyone know how the project fits into the product vision.

Yet many scam designers will pretend to listen to your specified requirements. They’ll then turn around and build a website layouts that does none of those things. They will deliver you a great system that seems to work but won’t help your team build faster or cheaper. And that’s because it doesn’t provide any guidance or support.

6. You Find That You’re Constantly Being Hacked

The internet is filled with hackers and malicious users trying to steal your data and money. They will attempt to break into your system through any vulnerability. So you need a design system that helps you build robust security into every component.

A scam designer will deliver a website with poor security. This leaves you vulnerable to attack. They will tell you it’s okay because they have a “backup plan” for when someone tries to hack your site. But there’s no such thing as a backup plan for hacking. Once someone breaks into your system, you’re done for.

How to Know Scam Designers

So, how can you spot a scam designer?

1. Review Your Contract/Agreement

Scam designers will often have a confusing contract or agreement. The contract will seem to protect them rather than you. This is because many contracts protect them from liability for poor design work.

2. Perform an Email Address Lookup to Find Out More About the Email Owner

If you receive an email from a designer without mentioning the company they work for, this should be a red flag. A person with considerable design experience will have a website with contact information.

3. Use a Site That Vets Freelancers to Ensure Safety

Freelancers have scammed clients out of thousands of dollars. When hiring a freelancer, it is crucial to check their background. This shows you if any complaints are filed against them. Use sites like Upwork or Fiverr. They have a vetting process to ensure that freelancers are legitimate and safe.


Design system scams are common in the design industry, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Following the tips above, you can avoid getting scammed by a design system scammer. And suppose you are unsure about something or feel someone is trying to scam you out of money. Then contact them directly and ask them questions before signing any contracts.

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