Webinar Recap: U.S. Web Design System October 2021 Monthly Call

Community, Connection, and Contribution
Nov 15, 2021

The presentation deck and script from the U.S. Web Design System (USWDS) October Monthly Call are now available. Remember to tune in for the U.S. Web Design System monthly calls every third Thursday of the month.

For the October 2021 call, we focused on how our community can better solve problems together, as we prepare for a new major USWDS release next year. We looked at tools and channels that we will be using to better connect as a design system community, as well as ways everyone can contribute.

Design system projects are collaborative projects, but they can become fragmented without a core community and communication

We want to help teams spend less time on problems others have already solved. 

Collaborative work can be complicated, but also exciting, since the design system community naturally brings together a number of different specialties and perspectives. The landscape of federal websites may be fragmented, but it is also incredibly diverse, with all kinds of people solving all kinds of problems with all kinds of tools. There is incredible potential here!

This asset — seeing problems from a lot of angles — can’t be fully realized unless we’re able to share the solutions we’ve discovered. This requires good communication among all teams and common channels to find the information we need.

We can’t do it alone

The design system provides a rare opportunity for increased connectedness between the many individuals, organizations, and teams working on pieces of this enormous problem — the problem of an effective digital government. We can do a lot as the Core team, but for many kinds of topics, especially those that relate to implementations and teams, the community members (not the Core team) are the experts.

We’ll be rolling out USWDS 3.0 Beta in GitHub Discussions

We’re experimenting with a new channel: GitHub Discussions. These Discussions are an open, public forum that doesn’t require a GitHub account to follow (though, you will need a GitHub account to contribute).

  • This is our USWDS Discussion board. You can find posts with threads and react or upvote messages you want to discuss. Discussions don’t have to be exclusively about code. Don’t be afraid to contribute!
  • Anyone with a GitHub account can contribute to discussions. (Signing up for a GitHub account is quick and easy; see this interactive signup.) If you don’t have an account, you can still view discussions.
  • Anyone with an account can start a discussion.
  • We have a USWDS 3.0 Beta discussion. We’re interested in finding participants right now. 
  • See these best practices for community conversations on GitHub.

We have a new monthly newsletter: Wave

We recently launched a newsletter!

  • It’ll publish once a month, typically the first week of the month.
  • It’ll cover content updates, guidance improvements, product updates, recent release notes, and site launches. We also will include recaps of the previous month’s Monthly Call and a sneak-peek at the next month’s event. Maybe there will be more, too. It’s new, and we’re still learning.
  • Sign up here or share this link with anyone who’d be interested!
  • We also added a newsletter to the social footer on our website.

Q&A Overview

Q: How do we know when to start a GitHub discussion versus an issue?

A: This may not always be a bright line. A discussion is typically a prelude to an issue, and an issue is usually something clear like a bug [that needs to be fixed]. We will work on these distinctions as we get more experience on our Discussions board.

Q: Any tips for a team just beginning to adopt the USWDS (in planning mode, not even close to designing or coding)?

A: We are digging into “getting started” questions right now and will soon have more resources on our site. The most important first step is to understand design tokens, the building blocks of USWDS components. The intersection between tokens and utility classes will help you start creating with USWDS components and prototyping your system. 

Q: Any sources of video tutorials of live coding using USWDS?

A: We are a bit behind on video tutorials when it comes to the live-coding with USWDS. With some of our recent new feature releases, like our June 2021 monthly call on pagination, we looked at zombie releases and demo’ed some of pagination’s functions during that call. So we have that content we could share. If you are looking for “getting started” tutorials, they don’t exist yet, but knowing that the community wants it is good feedback for us as we create these resources.

Q: Looking for all the Drupal knowledge here!

A: There are some Drupal themes and modules available on our Implementations page. The community (Slack or GitHub) is still the best place to find Drupal implementations, and the design system will work to better highlight these examples on our site.

Q: Will you be sharing a variation USWDS-themed HTML email template that you’ve made for this?

A: Good idea. Our team is looking into this now! Stay tuned.

USWDS Resources