Atomic Design is a methodology created by Brad Frost seeking to provide direction on building interface design systems more deliberately and with explicit order and hierarchy.
This methodology is called Atomic Design because it’s very idea is founded in that of Chemistry, and the study of the composition of matter. The universe is made up of a fixed set of ‘atomic elements’ – known to many of us as the periodic table of elements. These elements are the building blocks of everything around us.
This understanding of how smaller elements, or atoms, can be combined together to create larger objects, or molecules, parallels well with the design world, and the many elements we use to construct our designs. Following the atomic design principles provides us a structure for not only formulating our design, but creates the building blocks for constructing our design systems and pattern libraries.
Elements of Atomic Design
There are five distinct stages of the Atomic Design methodology, with the first three modelled after their equivalents in the Chemistry world. Each stage builds on the previous, acting as an aggregate of items from the preceding stages.