The Design System is a living, continually evolving set of tools. The design system unites teams that create digital services, through inclusive design, open-source code and shared insights. Our development priorities are guided by the community.
The design system has undergone a lot of changes since its inception. The principles and governance model that drives the development of the design system is detailed below.
If you have any suggestions or feedback, we would love for you to get in touch with us.
These Design Principles are intended to support and be directly compatible with the Digital Service Standard, recognising that other jurisdictions not covered by the Standard are leveraging and extending the Design System.
’ needs come firstUsers
Our immediate users include designers, developers and researchers, but our ultimate users are the consumers of Australian Government digital services. We want the Design System to be easy to apply to the everyday problems encountered by digital practitioners in government, giving them inclusive, high-quality tools which allow them to serve their end users’ needs to access inclusive government services.
Consistent, not uniform
We aim to provide a consistent appearance and behaviour of common components and templates across digital government services, minimising the learning curve for users moving between services. Developers and designers that use the Design System retain the freedom to apply their own corporate branding (colour schemes, typography and sub-logos) and user flows in a non-disruptive manner.
Function over fashion
Delivering highly-accessible, highly-usable digital services requires doing the basics simply, clearly and quickly. We aim to respect our users’ time and bandwidth, avoiding anti-patterns or faddish design trends that may delay or disrupt them. This can be beautiful in its own way.
Maximise opportunities for reuse
Favouring a distributed and modular approach we avoid tight coupling with particular technologies. We welcome contributions from across the design and technical communities, regardless of the technology stack or framework. The Australian Government Design System is discretionary - we want to ensure it becomes a national asset, providing an improved default choice of UI for new or redesigned services.
Evidence over opinion
We believe that consulting with many sources creates better insights, so we aim to involve the Design System community in everything we do. We are open in our processes and research, seeking feedback where possible, documenting decisions and producing rationale for published work.
The Australian Government Design System (design system) is not mandatory for Australian Government agencies.
However, we believe that it is the simplest, fastest and clearest way for agencies undergoing a service redesign to meet several criteria from the mandatory Digital Service Standard:
The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is the curator of the design system and related communities.
We provide online and offline platforms for the community to discuss, contribute to, adapt and extend the design system and ensure the design system continues to meet the community’s needs. The DTA is also responsible for:
- Defining and championing design principles to guide the direction and shape of the product
- Managing administrators and moderators of the design system community forum and the associated Code of Conduct
- Managing membership of the core team on our GitHub project
The DTA does not charge for the use of the design system. It is provided for use under a MIT license.
However, third-party providers may be contracted to implement or extend the design system for a project. Wherever possible, the DTA would encourage the contracting party to ensure these extensions are suitable for contributing back to the design system.
The DTA does not provide paid support for the implementation of, or extensions to, the design system.
Bugs or issues can be reported to the DTA via GitHub. The core team prioritises responses to security issues, especially where a third-party dependency is known to have a vulnerability. No service level agreements (SLAs) for responding to issues should be assumed, and issues are prioritised and resolved on a ‘best efforts’ basis.
Many sellers on the Digital Marketplace have demonstrated experience implementing the design system for agencies. Several third parties have implemented the design system on their platform or technology stack of choice, making their code available for reuse or educational purposes. The DTA encourages this behaviour, but support for those implementations cannot be offered by the design system team.
Adapting and extending
Agencies may choose to configure, adapt or modify the design system to align with their own agency’s style or branding guide. This may include configuring custom colour palettes, replacing branding imagery, substituting fonts or extending existing components.
Agencies may choose to:
- Make these modifications themselves
- Inherit a pre-configured system, or
- Contract the modifications to a third party
Agencies are encouraged to retain as much consistency with the design system as possible. Relevant agencies also need to ensure that they maintain alignment with existing guidelines for the digital implementation of the Australian Government brand.
Code Reviews and Pull Requests (PRs)
All pull requests are subject to review, irrespective of the source.
Only members of the core team can review and approve a pull request.
The DTA is directly responsible for all code on the master branch of design system GitHub repositories.
Users of the design system are not required to report their implementations or usage of the design system to the DTA.
The DTA does not undertake reviews of, or report on, implementations of the design system for consistency or conformance.
However, the DTA tracks usage of design system components using a combination of:
- NPM download statistics
- Markup signatures detected in the whole-of-government web crawl
- Users’ self-reporting via the community forum
If you are using the design system (even in a non-public environment), please let us know.
As adoption and maturity of the design system has increased, the core team has moved towards using a federated model for collaborating on and contributing to the product. As a result, working on the design system is no longer a full-time role for any core team member.
Each core team member is directly involved in the design, development and delivery of one or more whole-of-government digital services. This ensures that the design system is deployed appropriately on those services and provides a strong feedback loop between real-world implementations and the design system product roadmap.
Membership of the core team is currently comprised of DTA staff.
Core contributors are expected to have a background in at least two of the following: front-end design, front-end engineering, full-stack development, accessibility, content design, user research, interaction design or user experience design.
We are considering broadening membership to include trusted individuals or organisations who demonstrate appropriate experience and operate in accordance with the APS Code of Conduct. If you like to nominate someone as a potential member of the core team, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributions and Attributions
The DTA is responsible for reviewing, attributing and potentially accepting all contributions received in the form of code, design, research or discussion. Detailed contribution guides are maintained by the core team as CONTRIBUTING.md files in all relevant GitHub repositories.
While not all contributions can be accepted into the design system, all contributions will be automatically attributed to the authoring individual or organisation.
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