The GitHub Design Infrastructure and Design Engineering teams build and maintain Primer — this includes our CSS framework, style guide documentation, Octicons, numerous tools and libraries that support design and front-end, and component libraries.Our team officially formed in early 2016 with just two team members, and keeps on growing, with opportunities for apprenticeships and internships in the future. Keep an eye on the GitHub careers page if you’re interested in new openings on our team.
As an agency developer early in my career, it seemed we were always building the same UI with different styles. So why not build once, with enough flexibility to customize for many clients?
Later, it became clear to me that systems could boost the end user's experience through more than speed to production; systems multiply consistency, usability, and accessibility. And who doesn't want a top-notch, inclusive user experience which the makers can ship more quickly?
We stand on the shoulders of giants. I deeply appreciate the former colleagues who have helped me learn and grow, all of the folks who write and speak in the design systems space, and the work of management leaders like Lara Hogan, Camille Fournier, Sarah Drasner, and Caree Youngman.
The playful, innovative work of my friend Charlie Gerard never fails to inspire and remind me what humans in tech are capable of creating.
VS Code, React, CSS, axe Accessibility Linter, Netlify, and a big mug
Having worked on a few different projects over the years I realized that having a solid design system is one of the best ways to build faster, more consistent, accessible, and overall higher quality products. I love focusing on the details of all the different pieces of a design system and how they fit together to create awesome experiences for both end users and developers.
iTerm, Visual Studio Code, Edge, Firefox, Microsoft Accessibility Insights, axe Accessibility Linter, GitHub, Spotify, Quip
I get so much joy from writing HTML and CSS, and design systems are one level up - systematically making UIs accessible and consistent. I love concentrating on the tiny things like button states so product folk can build the big picture, knowing that the details are taken care of.
VS Code, DevTools, Figma, Notion, Field Notes, earl grey
The majority of my time as a designer has been within product design, and pursuing my passion for accessible design started early on. I began finding that accessibility and systems thinking were intrinsically linked, so transitioning to design systems to focus on accessibility was a natural course. Being able to affect change that helps people has always been a deep-seated need of mine to fill with my work, and I'm able to do that two-fold in design systems to help product designers and end users.
Years ago when I was interested in learning how to fix computers, a coworker once told me that you could teach a monkey to build a computer. The meaning behind this was that I could go out and learn whatever I wanted regardless of previous knowledge or background, as long as the desire was there. I really took this to heart with me and it's been a key part of my growth to where I am today. I've been able to learn from countless coworkers over the years who have shared their knowledge and helped me grow.
Figma, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Accessibility Insights, Procreate and GoodNotes on iPad, Obsidian, custom mechanical keyboards
I first learned about design systems through the work of Joseph Müller-Brockmann, Massimo Vignelli, and Otl Aicher. I was fascinated by their principles, the patterns they developed, the modularity of their approach, and the abstractions they established. All that gave me an entirely new perspective and understanding of design. I later connected these learnings to my work while scaling user interfaces on startups and larger organizations.
I've been very fortunate to learn and work with many inspiring designers, engineers, and product people over the last few years. Aitor, Anna, Javi, Miguel, and Ricardo, to name just a few. Also, I've learned a lot about design, process, thinking, and strategy from Oliver Reichenstein and Ryan Singer, and code from Nicolas Gallagher, Harry Roberts, and Lea Verou.
Obsidian, iA Writer, Lamy 2000, Framer, VS Code, Next.js, Vercel, Raycast, coffee, rum
Design Systems gave me a unique opportunity to combine two of my passions: systems engineering with design operations. I find pleasure in the small details, like drawing component schematics, automating repetitive workflows, writing specifications, etc. Crucially, I enjoy building systems that others can use to optimise their own workflows and lives.
I'm inspired by engineering thought leaders like Kent C. Dodds, Brian Lonsdorf (AKA Prof. Frisby), Eric Elliot, Dan Abramov, and all of my current and former colleagues in the space. I also enjoy following OG design system pioneers like Jina, Brad Frost, Nathan Curtis, Dan Mall and the work of teams like @salesforceux, @materialdesign, @spotifydesign, and it should go without saying… the team at @primer.
Spotify, Figma, Photoshop, React + React Native, AWS, Notes (I know...), Flat Whites
Through pure frustration of “there has to be a better way”, I wandered into the world of design systems and it just clicked! Found so many talented folks who worked on the intersection of design and development roles (used to be called "hybrids", but that might be out of fashion). Bought into the idea of defining a common language for designers and developers, still chasing that dream :)
Devtools, Figma, iA Writer, GitHub, CodeSandbox, Hyper, Vercel, Kap, Muji pens!
I have a background in design but also love writing code, and design systems are very welcoming to multi-disciplinary folks. I love how design systems bring people together across orgs and create a shared language for collaboration.
VS Code, Firefox dev tools, CSS, Figma, Pika, Notion
Being part of a few startups I've always noticed that engineers quickly outgrew designers and when this happened it was hard to keep up as a designer. Small obvious design patterns would often need clarification because they weren't clear. System thinking has always reduced this problem and allowed us to move quickly without compromising on quality.
Co-workers have always played a crucial part in growing into system thinking. Working as a designer on a design tool in the past I was also lucky to chat to endless of big companies trying to set up design systems as well.
React, XCode, Figma, GitHub, Atom and 4pm biscuits
Early on in my career, I felt a natural pull towards design systems as I've always been a person who finds great joy in consolidating, organizing, and making sense of messy things. As soon as I began to specialize in accessibility, the power and importance of design systems became even more clear, ultimately turning into the core of my work.
I believe I inherited my curiousity and love for learning from my dad. My husband, who has helped teach me that I can be both a #bossatwork and a #bossmom. The Accessibility community who is small, but mighty, working hard to empower and educate people like me to grow the community even further. Lastly, all the open source design systems out there!
Notion, Slack, Figma, Microsoft Accessibility Insights, Spotify
I was frustrated by all of the inconsistent UI, duplicated work, and redundant meetings that my teams would have to deal with. I finally found a discipline where I could use my design skills and my engineering skills to solve meaty problems without being limited to a traditional design or engineering role.
Working on a design system with Adam Detrick was invaluable and taught me so much. I'm also humbled and inspired by the work of David DeSandro, Lynn Hershman, Rachel Andrew, and Wei Huang.
VS Code, Zsh, CSS, React, Adobe Illustrator, pen and paper, Microsoft To Do, Chrome Inspector
I'm a big fan of useful abstraction layers, and design systems are generally great examples. Although I've been a programmer for a long time, I enjoy dabbling in design in my free time and love to see systems that make good design achievable (nay, easy!) for non-designers :)
Whenever I need some design inspiration, I head over to Dribbble. When I was a kid, I learned a ton from my mom who was a graphic designer for REI and Eddie Bauer in the 1980s (i.e. before computers).
VScode, Ruby, Chrome, iTerm 2
Technology and design being considered at odds is a recent invention. Design systems are just the way I think, so building bridges between design and engineering is at the heart of much of my work.
I am fortunate to say that the list of people who have taught and inspired me is long. I am full of gratitude for the people who take the time and energy to teach, build tools for collaboration, and run communities that lift people up.
Sublime Text, React, Pencil and Paper, Figma, GitHub, coffee
Being able to focus on the key elements of design, form, color and typography.
Having an education in industrial design, the Bauhaus design philosophy and Dieter Rams inspired me a lot. Everything I know about digital product design I learned at Wunderlist, whose design team was very inspiring.
Remarkable tablet, Figma, Origami, Glyphs, GitHubs internal color tool
I think it happened naturally while working on bigger projects and having to define a source of truth. Producing and mantaining complex products is really difficult if you have to reinvent the wheel going through all the decision-making process again and again, alone or with your teammates.
My biggest source of inspiration have always been video games, I really like how good games craft a small reality and then put a lot of care into making interaction feel satisfactory and self-explanatory. Apart from that, I think there are lots of places inspiration can be drawn from: Music, furniture and interior design, photography, movies...
Photoshop, Figma, Maya, Unity, VS Code, PocketCasts, CityMapper.
I like it when things around me are organized. I like writing, and the process of refining an idea into words. I like guidelines, style guides, patterns, HTML, and CSS. I like to have several projects on at once. I like planning. I like to work smart, not hard. When you add all of these you get… design systems!
More than anything, the people I’ve worked with over the years. I learned something from everyone: being generous with my knowledge, being serious about research, work discipline, balancing family life and work, speaking up, picking my battles, and everything good that I know. Also: the conversations and connections I made during the early years of Design Twitter — still going strong.
Too many! Things, Simplenote, iA Writer, Dictionary, VS Code, xScope, notebooks, Pinboard, Overcast, spreadsheets, and Earl Grey.
While working in numerous Rails codebases over the years, I kept seeing the same structural issues in the view layer as applications grew in size. I came up with an idea to bring component-driven design patterns to Rails, and am thrilled to be pursuing it for the purpose of building out our design systems at GitHub.
My mom is a professor in visual communication, so I’ve been in the design world since before I could walk. I learned how to be a software engineer from my friend Aaron Snyder, who took me as his apprentice after I left the newspaper industry. These days I learn a lot from my coworkers, especially tenderlove and seejohnrun.
VS Code, Todoist, Spotify
A few years back, I was an apprentice for a freelance product designer and my main responsibility was to document his designs and help his customers understand how to continue on with our designs. I loved extracting patterns and spending time writing documentation so every chance I had at any job after that I either participated or initiated the design systems efforts.
I'll start with a lesson from a book. Mark Manson helped me stop looking for shortcuts. Javier Cañada pushed me to think about design outside technology and be inspired by history, literature, philosophy... Sasha Prokhorova taught me that design is not just about craft. She made me a better professional along with some others who I consider my mentors like David la Iglesia, Adrian Mato or Emily Hayman. From Yaili I learned to love design systems documentation and how to show others the value of it. Then Nathan Curtis content became the manual on how to write and present documentation. Yesenia helped me see how design systems can be functional, effective and still convey a brand's personality. The most important lesson, be it design or human level is that communities help us grow and learn from one another. This is why I'm so inspired by people like Jina, Mina, Diana or Stu who are passionate thought leaders doing so much for the design and development industry. Also Zendaya. What a great time to be alive!
Figma, Things, SPREADSHEETS!, Notion, Emojis, Moleskine journals and Fujifilm X-H1.
Throughout the various roles I’ve had in product design, creating good and cohesive experiences for people was always what truly motivated me to be in this area. As I started working in larger projects, style guides, design patterns and design systems became essential to scale cohesion, and ultimately part of my life.
I’ve been lucky to encounter and collaborate with immensely talented people where I’ve been — that has shaped me more than I can imagine. Over the years, stumbling upon Bruno Bergher, Lulu LaMer, Andrew Branch, among many many others, have shown me people who are eager to learn, and above all open to being wrong (even if they’re right most of the time).
I like how Yuval Noah Harari has helped me (and an entire generation) to see the big picture, and I have always been inspired by designers who spread beyond their areas like Frank Chimero and Rasmus Andersson do.
Pen and paper, Figma, photography camera
While studying computer science, I developed a passion for design patterns and abstractions. I especially enjoyed learning about programming languages and automata theory. I'm excited about the potential to apply what I've learned to create strong visual languages. I also enjoy building tools that make it easier for designers and developers (like me) to create better user experiences.
CodeSandbox, Figma, GitHub, React, Slack, VS Code
Ok, this might sound weird, but I really enjoy looking at UIs. There is something satisfying, seeing a bunch of components getting thrown on a page that fit well together, forming a balanced interface for users to interact with. I also enjoy building UIs and helping others to do the same.
Thinking back, seeing the CSS Zen Garden was really inspiring. Also the CSS "demo scene" found in places like CodePen is nuts. Admittedly, not always practical, but fun to check out.
I also got inspired and learned a lot from methodologies like OOCSS, SMACSS, BEM, SUIT and nowadays CSS-in-JS. The "how to organize CSS" is a challenging, but also interesting problem to solve.
DevTools, Atom, Figma, Sketch, iA Writer, LICEcap, Things, coffee, headphones.
I came into design systems very organically. When I began my career in the agency world, I worked within constraints of branding and style guidelines of our various clients. At the time I didn't fully recognize these guidelines as what we now refer to as design systems. As my career continued to grow I noticed that I began to be far more interested in how various companies/brands packaged the many pieces that made up their brand and/or products. I love how design systems bring together all the pieces in order to unleash endless creativity but still maintain the necessary constraints.
I get a lot of my inspiration from the community I've built via Dribbble. A few of my favorites are the dynamic duo that makes of TheLittleLabs, Camilo and Aradhana, the illustration work by Enisaurus, and Kendrick Kidd.
When I first started my career, Frank Chimero was a huge inspiration. His book, The Shape of Design, really helped to form my philosophy and approach to problems and how to cultivate a design process. Along with that but not design related, Jason Fried has been a great inspiration to how I approach work. His book (written alongside David Heinemeier Hansson) Rework still is the best, no nonsense, business book I've ever read.
Figma, Atom, Keynote, Bear Notes, Spark Mail, Spotify
I was initially drawn to design systems while working on a small team, where we were stretched thin and struggling to keep the front-end and user experience afloat, recreating components and patterns by hand over and over again. We needed consistency, stability, a bridge between designers and developers, and a more efficient workflow. Once we put a design language and system in place, I was sold on the value. I find it fascinating how many approaches to design systems there are out there, and how different they can be depending on the individual product and teams’ needs.
Inge Druckrey and Edward Tufte inspired me to get into design, and introduced me to the world of typographic and informational systems (simultaneously). This talk by Bret Victor helped me feel less alone when I was starting out in the industry; at a time when code and design weren't yet openly intertwined. I’m also inspired by the folks behind designbetter.co for making knowledge around design systems transparent and available to everyone. Additionally, and there are too many people to name, people like Una Kravetz, Sarah Drasner, Tim Holman, and Val Head are always on my radar, keeping the internet weird and creative and continuously pushing the boundaries of what's possible.
Atom, Figma, Bear, Dash, Slack
I have had a fascination with front end engineering and UI for all of my career. Early on at GitHub I recognized the need to organize our code into reusable components. When the team formalized I had to be involved.
Both past and present I have to acknowledge that Nicole Sullivan has been profoundly influential in the way I front-end and write CSS. When she introduced concepts of OOCSS it brought me from thinking very linearly about CSS to a whole new range of systems thinking.
I was drawn to design systems for many reasons—the opportunity to improve design and development workflow efficiency; the potential benefits well-design systems can bring to the user experience; I like to bring order to chaos and enjoy working at the intersection of design and code. I also love that there is still so much to learn in the field and really enjoy the passion of the community behind design systems.
I don't have room on this webpage to list everyone! SMACSS, The Art and Science of CSS, and Veerle Pieters were some early influences. OOCSS by Nicole Sullivan, CSS Wizardary, Basscss, Tachyons, and BEM influenced my approach to CSS architecture. More recently I've been inspired by Rune Madsen's Programming Design Systems, Compositor, Dan Abramov, Sebastian Markbage, and so many design and code wonder women like Mandy Kerr, Marcy Sutton, Lea Verou, Mina Markham, Sarah Drasner and Jina Anne.
Hyper, Atom, Figma, MDN, and Quip
Over the decades, my primary expertise has slowly migrated from back-end development to front-end. I've always had an interest in design, and working on design systems allows me to explore that interest while continuing to leverage my expertise in front-end engineering.
The constant shifts in front-end programming over the years and an intrinsic desire to learn have always been a driving factor in my own exploration of computer programming. I'm fortuante to work with a huge number of talented engineers and designers at GitHub, which is very inspiring and very rewarding.
Vim, Photoshop, Blender, and a good, old-fashioned shell prompt.
I love organization and lists. I have a lists for things from movies to boba tea orders. I like to bring this into my design work as well, creating components and cohesiveness across platforms to make it easier for people to create great products.
When I first began learning about design, I was inspired by the people who contributed back to the community by teaching and opening up to students. Resources like Students Who Design and Design Details helped me figure out how I wanted to make a positive impact in tech.
More recently, I've been inspired by design agencies and companies that are testing the boundaries of design outside of what is accepted as 'common pratice'. I enjoy seeing unique animation and motion used to convey information, emotion, and storytelling.
Sketch, Figma, Atom, Dropbox Paper, Twitter, Ping Pong, Ukulele
I first found out about design systems through my last internship, which was focused on building up a design system for the New York Times. I kept learning more and more about this emerging field, and really started to grow an affinity for it.
Design Systems seemed to blend all aspects of my interests: Product Design, Front-End Development, Graphic Design, Typography, Illustration, etc. I’m drawn to design systems as it’s a field that welcomes individuals who have too many interests to count, and find themselves at intersections of many different passions.
I draw in a lot of inspiration from so many different facets of my life. I’m really fortunate to come from a diverse set of backgrounds to be able to see parallels that emerge from a variety of industries.
The field of Graphic Design has a tremendous influence on me, and some of the designers and studios I’m inspired by are: Natasha Jen, Barron Webster, Maxime Buschi, Michael Bierut, Eric Hu, Micah Barrett, Draw Down Books, Wei Huang, Josh Schaub, Morcoskey, and David Rudnik. I’ve always been inspired by those who are experimenting at the intersection of design and technology: Tristan Harris, Brad Frost, Studio No-Plans, Marie Otsuka, Ben Wilkins, Jon Gold, Bret Victor, and Chris Novello. I also love typography, and have a lot of admiration for type-designers and foundries: Colophon Foundry, Kris Sowersby (Klim Type), Matthew Carter, Richard Lipton, Lucas Sharp, Grilli Type, and James Edmondson (OHnotypeco). There’s so many more people that I’ve learned and drawn inspiration from to mention and praise, so feel free to reach out! I’d love to share and discuss. <3
VScode, Figma, Adobe Creative Suite, Zero-Sugar Redbull
Up until now, I've been mostly working Front End Engineering roles, but I've always been interested in finding something that was a good mix between Front End and Design. Design Systems feels like the perfect hybrid between the two!
I'm also really into accessibility, and I found that having a design system that enforces accessible standards is one of the easiest ways to make progress on getting a team on-boarded with accessibility best practices and getting those practices implemented in production
I'm super excited about our React component library that we've been working on over the past few months!
Figma, Notion (for taking notes & planning), React