The GitHub Design Systems team builds and maintains Primer—this includes our CSS framework, style guide documentation, Octicons, numerous tools and libraries that support design and front-end, and our up-coming React.js component library.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.
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
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 ofTheLittleLabs, 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
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
I worked in data visualization and map-making for most of my career, and solving design problems with data is my jam. To me there's something uniquely exciting about making a thing that can take complicated and/or unexpected input and, with no human intervention, reduce it to something visually comprehensible—and hopefully interesting!
Anyone who has ever contributed to A List Apart or posted to the webdesign-l mailing list between 1999 and 2005. The CSS Zen Garden was hugely inspirational for me, along with web standards pioneers like Eric Meyer, Mark Pilgrim, and Jeff Zeldman. Jina is one of the hardest-working people in design systems, and her leadership in the community is a tremendous inspiration. I learned everything I know about SVG from Sara Soueidan, and everything I could hope to know about CSS Grid from Rachel Andrew and Jen Simmons. If you want to learn about web components, follow Monica Dinculescu and Mu-An Chiou.
Vim, Things, Chrome DevTools, curl
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 Many Kerr, Marcy Sutton, Lea Verou, Mina Markham, Sarah Drasner and Jina Anne.
Hyper, Atom, Figma, MDN, and Quip