Design Systems at GitHub

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Here’s a nifty post by Diana Mounter all about the design systems team at GitHub that details how the team was formed, the problems they’ve faced and how they’ve adapted along the way:

When I started working at GitHub in late 2015, I noticed that there were many undocumented patterns, I had to write a lot of new CSS to implement designs, and that there weren’t obvious underlying systems connecting all the pieces together. I knew things could be better and I was enthusiastic about making improvements—I quickly discovered that I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. There were several folks working on efforts to improve things, but weren’t working together. With support from design leads, a group of us started to meet regularly to discuss improvements to Primer and prioritize work—this was the beginnings of the design systems team.

This whole post had me nodding furiously along to every word but there was one point that I particularly made note of: the part where Diana mentions how her team decided to make “the status of styles more obvious” in order to communicate changes to the rest of the team.

Lately, I’ve noticed how design systems can demonstrate the status of a project, which is super neat. Communicating these large changes to the codebase early and frequently, over-communicating almost, is probably a good idea when a design systems team is just getting started.

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