Andi Lane
13 min read

What is a UI Kit? Examples and Why You Should Use One

A good UI kit can 10-100x your workflow by saving you time and money usually spent on meticulously building the same components over and over again.
What is a UI Kit? Examples and Why You Should Use One
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If you’re thinking about trying out UI kits for designing user interfaces and websites in Figma, you might be interested in learning more about their purpose and how they can improve your design workflow.

When used effectively, a good UI kit is an invaluable asset that can speed up your creative process from wireframing and ideation, right through to the final product. A good UI kit can 10-100x your workflow by saving you time and money usually spent on meticulously building the same components over and over again. Simply put, you’ll have an excellent tool for building a UI prototype without spending weeks creating brand-new design component and elements from scratch.  

We created this short guide to help you dive into the world of UI kits and learn how to make the most out of them. We’ll talk about their benefits, their pros and cons, the difference between UI kits and design systems, as well as how to create a good UI kit (with a few examples).

What is a UI Kit?

So, what exactly is a UI kit? A UI kit is a large compilation of reusable and easy-to-use UI components, templates, styles, resources and other useful digital assets that can be used to create user interface designs and websites. 

UI kits are also referred to as user interface kits and UI design kits. UI kits generally consist of various user interface components and visual elements, notably:

  • Icons
  • Buttons
  • Badges
  • Inputs
  • Checkboxes
  • Toggles
  • Avatars
  • Tooltips
  • Progress bars
  • Text styles
  • Color styles (color palettes)
  • Effects styles
  • Design elements (images and graphics)
  • Widgets and other visual elements
  • Templates and layouts
  • Code components
Buttons in Untitled UI
Examples of button components from Untitled UI.

It’s also worth noting that not all UI kits have the same components and not all UI kits are crafted to the same level of quality. For example, some UI kits have just a few components, such as icons and checkboxes; others include an extensive collection that offers everything you need to design modern user interfaces, mobile apps, and websites. Similarly, not all UI kits include code components (e.g. HTML/CSS, React, Tailwind).

Now, let’s see why you’d probably benefit from using a great UI kit.

Remote UX designer working

Why do I need a UI kit? 

The first benefit is obvious — as we already mentioned, you’ll save time.

Regardless of the UI kit you choose and its respective components, you’ll be able to edit components and styling as you design and prototype ideas, instead of building them from scratch at the start of each new project. Hundreds of hours of "hidden" work are spent on creating these design assets at the start of a project. If you're working on a large project or as part of a larger design system, it's easy to underestimate how much work is involved.

For instance, components like arrows or dropdown menus are extremely fiddly to build in Figma and take a lot of time to be created from square one, so using them from an already existing UI kit is much more efficient. Also, if you’re using a UI kit that contains icons and social media buttons, it’s much easier to reuse them as much as you need instead of spending additional time creating them one-by one and dealing with inconsistencies. More on this later. 

Lastly, if you’re a beginner to the world of UI design or just learning Figma, a great UI kit is an underrated way to learn best practices from the start by reverse-engineering how UI components work and are built. 

Let’s summarize some more general benefits of using a UI kit.

Dashboard mockup in Figma
Ready-made UI components can drastically speed up your workflow.

What are the benefits of UI kits?

  • Speed up your design process. Everything you need is already there! Spend less time building components from scratch and instead focus on designing the best possible solutions.
  • Maintain design consistency. A good UI kit comes with reusable and consistent components and styles already set up and ready-to-use, so you can keep everything consistent, organized, and maintainable right from the start.
  • Become a better designer. Learn best practices and how to build complex components the right way from professional UI and web designers.
  • Focus on the details. Using a quality UI kit frees up more time to focus on the most critical aspects of your designs. These fine details can make a huge difference between an average design and a great design.
  • Design websites and mobile apps. Comprehensive UI kits can be applied to a huge range of design projects, from simple websites to complex prototypes for Android and iOS mobile apps. You can reuse them for different UI designs as often as you’d like, building on and improving the UI kit as you go.
  • Quickly and easily make changes. Starting from a UI kit means you can edit your designs quickly and easily by editing master components and styles. For example, updating a button component will update that button everywhere it’s used in your designs.
Typography documentation
Typography documentation from Untitled UI.

Pros and cons of using a UI kit 

Before opting to use a UI design kit, it can be helpful if you know more about its general pros and cons. Below we made a brief list of the most relevant assets and liabilities of UI kits.

Pros of using a UI kit

One thing that certainly makes UI kits essential and genuinely beneficial is that you’ll save a lot of time and money by using them. Instead of purchasing single components or spending hundreds of hours meticulously creating design components from scratch, you can invest in a UI kit and reuse its UI components and templates as much as you need. 

They’re very easy to use, as well as reuse. So, if you believe you’ll use the same components in various prototypes, you’ll definitely make the best of your purchase. 

Furthermore, a good quality UI kit keeps your design workflow consistent by maintaining a single source of truth for every component, style, and layout. A UI kit keeps all of the elements neatly organized, so you’ll spend less time tracking down components and more time designing.

Cons of using a UI kit

Although there are rather more pros than cons of using a UI kit, we feel that it’s only fair if we point out some of the most obvious disadvantages of UI kits. 

One thing you need to consider when using a UI kit is that they can only offer a limited number of digital UI components and elements. While some UI kits include thousands of components, no one UI kit is going to cover all of your needs across all your projects. For example, if your client asks for a particular dropdown menu style that’s not included in your UI kit, you may need to customize the dropdown component already included in your UI kit, create a new dropdown component from scratch, or use a component from a different UI kit.

Another instance where UI kits may prove troublesome is that you have to discern the ones that are specifically made for native mobile design. If you’re building a native iOS app or native Android app, for instance, you’ll have to look for mobile UI kits which fit that specific platform and framework.

Moreover, UI kits can often be overly-stylized and as a result, can limit your creativity if you’re not careful. Because UI kits typically include “everything you need”, it can be easy to intentionally or unintentionally follow the same approach without considering what is best for your specific project. Similarly, if you select a UI kit that contains components with strong aesthetic differences from the project you’re working on, you may find you spend too much time re-styling components. A good way around this is to opt for UI kits that are specifically designed to be “neutral” with little or simple styling — these are designed to be suitable for any project and leave much more flexibility for customization.

Ultimately, if your client is too picky or you can’t find a UI kit to suit your needs, you might have to do the thing that you were trying to avoid in the first place — build your own component library and UI kit from scratch.

Examples of UI kits

Now that we’ve covered what UI kits are all about, let’s look at a few great examples and popular UI kits that can get you started. Most popular UI kits include free versions — these are not only useful for exploring the best options for your product or project, but they're invaluable for free design resources and worth exploring!

We dive into this in much more detail in our post on the 25 Best Figma UI Kits and Design Systems if you’d like to explore more, including free UI kits and UI kits specifically for mobile apps and material design.

Untitled UI Figma UI kit and design system

1. Untitled UI 

Untitled UI is the largest UI kit and design system for Figma in the world. It's meticulously crafted with 100% Auto Layout 4.0, super-smart variants, interactive components, and with accessibility in mind.

It's a great example of Figma design system best practices and is the most popular and highest-rated Figma UI kit on the internet with 1,000+ 5-star reviews!

Untitled UI was designed to be the "ultimate" UI kit and the perfect starting point for any kind of project — from beautiful marketing landing pages, all the way to complex dashboards and web apps — Untitled UI has thought of absolutely everything so you don't have to.

The team behind Untitled UI are constantly making updates and improvements to the UI kit and recently announced they've completely refactored Untitled UI to take advantage of Figma's latest component property features announced at Config 2022.

They've also released Untitled UI PRO LITE, which is a premium and lightweight version of the full Untitled UI PRO kit and have included it for free. It's 55% lighter, faster, and is designed to include everything you need and nothing you don't. It's perfect for moving fast and for smaller projects!

You can check out a full preview of the design kit, or check out the 100% free UI kit here (which is more advanced than most UI kits in its own right!). If you're short on time, here's a 60-second overview:

Frames X UI kit and design handbook

2. Frames X - UI Kit & Design Handbook

buninux.gumroad.com — From $99 per user

This mid-weight UI kit contains more than 5,500 UI components, 420 building blocks, 200 chart blocks, color styles, and various icons suitable for creating mobile and web apps. 

You can get the Personal version for $99, the Team version (2 to 6 users) for $139, and the Unlimited license for an unlimited number of users for $359. 

Disy Design System

3. Disy Design System 

disy.design — $48 per user

With more than 500 handcrafted components and 280 icons, Disy is an easy-to-use, organized design system perfect for both small and large UI projects. For $48, you’ll get Disy for an unlimited amount of time. 

Cabana for Figma

4. Cabana for Figma

cabanaforfigma.com — From $69 per user

With more than 1,000 UI components and useful templates, Cabana for Figma can help you create all kinds of UI designs — from website mockups to large projects. Cabana’s price starts at $69 for the Standard, $99 for the Premium, and $149 for the Ultimate license. 

Flowbite

5. FlowBite

flowbite.com — From $149 per user

Flowbite contains more than 450 UI elements, pages, and sections + Tailwind CSS classes. You can either opt to use the free UI kit or buy the Designer edition license for $149. The Developer edition license costs $259. 

UI kit components in Figma
Various UI components from Untitled UI.

How to create a UI kit 

Apart from choosing an already existing UI kit, you can try and build your own from scratch. Here are the most important steps for creating a personalized UI kit for Figma:

  • Develop a plan for how you’ll use the UI kit in the future. What is your use case? If you’d like to create a UI kit for your design, you might consider making UI elements that are ultra-flexible to reuse in the future. On the other hand, if you’d like to sell the UI kit to other designers, research popular UI kits and decide what kind of UI kit you're building from the start.
  • Select a platform. Once you know the use case of the UI kit (mobile app design, web design, dashboard design etc.), it’ll be easier to continue building the kit’s structure.  
  • Plan the UI kit’s structure. Make sure that you spend some quality time categorizing your Figma file and keeping things organized, especially if the UI kit is going to be used by other designers or larger product teams.
  • Define foundational styles. Define your color palettes, typography scale styles, spacing system etc. right from the start. This is one of the most important steps in the design process because these foundations are used in every UI component and design element.
  • Design UI components from scratch. A great way to go about this is to explore similar UI kits for inspiration, but you’ll need to build each component and template from a blank canvas. You can also include prototyping animations or interactions at the master component level to save time when prototyping later on.

After learning what a UI kit is and how to create one, let’s move on to defining a design system and discussing the differences between a design system and a UI kit. 

Shopify Polaris design system website screenshot
Shopify Polaris is an example of a fantastic public design system.

What is a design system?

A design system is a collection of reusable UI components, along with clear guidelines, examples, and frameworks for how to use them correctly and matching code components. Often, design systems encompass the entire visual language of a project or company and can even include brand guidelines, UX guidelines, code/developer documentation, design process guides, and writing/copywriting style guides.

When you make a specific change in a design system, whether it be to a style, individual UI component, or process, it should cascade down and appear on all subsidiary assets where the design system is used (e.g. a website, internal PoC, or mobile application) as well as the relevant documentation.

Design systems are always evolving and changing. In this sense, a design system acts as a “single source of truth” and helps product teams large and small maintain consistency while designing and building products quickly at scale. Similar to a UI kit, a design system helps you stay on top of each step of the design process and helps you keep your design uniform and consistent.

When you start creating new products or a new prototype for a web page, proof of concept (PoC), or mobile app, you’ll be able to take components from the already existing design system’s library. Also, a design system will ease the process of rebranding or updating an already existing UI design.

Instead of spending time copying already used components on your UI design project, by including a design system, you’ll be able to reuse them throughout the entire project and switch up the design wherever you want to.

Design team collaborating

What is the difference between a UI kit and a design system? 

Generally speaking, a UI kit is a collection of UI components, assets, and styles. A design system encompasses this UI kit, as well as everything else that makes up the entire visual language of a project or company.

The main difference is the documentation — clear guidelines, examples, and frameworks for how to use the UI kit correctly. With a clear guide on why and how to use UI components and styles, product teams can move faster and remain consistent across every aspect of their designs and brand.

Here are a few notable differences between UI kits and design systems:

  • Usability: UI kits are a suitable option for designers for creating prototypes and visual designs, but design systems are an excellent asset for design and product teams because they include everything else that non-designers in the product teams need to work effectively (e.g. developer documentation and guidelines). A great design system is accessible to all so anyone can make updates and internal changes simultaneously.  
  • Long-term vs. short-term design projects: UI kits are perfect for short-term projects and simple products that don’t require additional documentation and guidelines. For long-term projects and more complex products, a fully-fledged design system will inevitably become necessary for designers, developers, and project managers to work efficiently and consistently. A design system can help them organize the entire development process for product teams and keep all the changes each member of the team makes consistent.
  • Library modifications and changes: Changes to a UI kit are generally a simple process, especially in Figma. If the UI kit is well-built, a single change to a specific component or style will update across the entire library like magic. Depending on the complexity of the change, modifications to design systems are usually more work because they often encompass updates to documentation and various code components.

Recap 

After defining UI kits and learning more about their benefits and the main differences between them and design systems, what’s the final verdict? Are UI kits worth it? Our answer is pretty straightforward: absolutely. UI kits are certainly a great asset for designers, and using them can be super beneficial in the long run.

If you’re interested in learning more, keep an eye on our blog, where we share our breadth of knowledge on all things related to UI kits and design systems.

Untitled UI blog

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In-depth design tutorials and the best quality design and Figma assets curated by the team behind Untitled UI.
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