What is a design language?
A design language is an overarching scheme that guides how suites of related products, services, programs, and initiatives are designed and developed.
Who is a design language for?
A design language is for everyone who is involved in the strategy, ideation, design, development, and delivery of products, services, programs, and initiatives.
What's so good about design languages?
Design languages ensure the various roles involved with designing and developing initiatives all talk the same language and understand the same concepts. Design languages ensure consistency and they help avoid confusion and misinterpretation.
What are the general aims of a design language?
In general, design languages aim to avoid confusion, provide clarity, and enable consistency in the design and development of related assets. In brief, they aim to provide coherence to an underlying set of principles.
Does a design language restrict what can be designed and developed?
No. A design language provides a vocabulary of terms, and some overarching principles about how items in the language relate to each other. As such, design languages are tools that enable designers and developers to focus on their creativity without needing to re-invent definitions or continually explain the basis for their design.
Does a design language define the visual appearance of what I want to create?
It depends on the specific design language and what it's meant for.
For example, software vendors often apply a visual design language that does indeed define visual styles. Apple, for instance, has applied various visual design languages throughout their history (such as 'Snow White', 'Platinum', 'Aqua', and 'Brushed Metal'). Similarly, Microsoft has also used visual design languages (such as 'Aero', 'Metro', and 'Fluent').
Car manufacturers and other industrial products also use visual design languages to strengthen their brand recognition factors, such as Ford's 'Kinetic Design' scheme, Mazda's 'Nagare' and 'Kodo' design languages, and Cadillac's 'Art & Science'.
However, other design languages do not define visual appearances at all, such as 'UML' or 'Unified Modeling Language'. Non-visual design languages (of which EmX is one) focus on function, rather than form.
What are the aims of the EmX design language?
The EmX design language guides the design of programs, initiatives, software, or services in the world of work. The common vocabulary ensures consistent use of terms, which enables everyone to speak the same language — from HR specialists and business strategists, through recruiters and training providers, to software designers and developers. Furthermore, the EmX design language goes further than simply providing a dictionary of terms — it defines the relationships and the relational attributes between objects in the world of work and it provides instances of things like role definitions, skill definitions, and much more.
What types of people use the EmX design language?
The EmX design language is for everyone involved in creating products, services, programs, and initiatives that impact people in the world of work. This includes HR specialists, business strategists, recruiters, training providers, software designers, and software developers.
Can I be creative when using the EmX design language?
Absolutely! The EmX design language is a guide that provides clarity and cohesion, which is the perfect start from which you can unleash your creativity. There are no hard rules, but rather a set of guidelines, principles, and vocabulary that you can use in any way you see fit.
Does the EmX design language define visual appearances?
No. The EmX design language does not define visual appearances at all. It focuses on function, rather than form. It is an overarching scheme that guides the design of programs, initiatives, software, or services in the world of work — but how they look and feel is up to you!
What types of things are in the EmX design language?
The EmX design language provides a coherent, common scheme that clearly defines the following (and more):
Actors such as employees, contractors, freelancers, employers, recruiters, and mentors.
Processes with which the actors interact, such as onboarding, training, and progression.
Concepts that apply to actors and processes, such as jobs, professions, occupations, and roles.
Attributes such as skills, knowledge, competencies, behaviors, attitudes, and capabilities.
Relationships — that define how all of the items in the language relate to each other.
Is the EmX.Works design language just a framework?
No. The EmX.Works design language is not just a theoretical framework — it is populated with real-world instances, including more than 31,000 role definitions, over 98,000 skill definitions, more than 1.25 million mappings between roles and skills, and millions of pieces of metadata.
Is EmX a static language?
No. Like all modern languages, EmX is constantly evolving and embracing new actors, processes, concepts, terms, attributes, and relationships.
How do I use the EmX design language?
We have a number of freely available resources (as well as training courses and consulting sessions) that help you understand the basics and provide you with a quick start. Check out our resources!
How do I get started?
Take a look at the freely available resources
, and feel free to contact our friendly, helpful staff by using the contact form below.