State unveils beta guidelines for website design, code and content

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State technologists unveiled the beta version of the California Design Systema comprehensive guide for agencies and departments of state on the best tools, principles, practices, and styles to use when designing, building, or redesigning their websites.

The system is an open source collaboration between the California Department of Technology and the Office of Digital Innovationboth within the Government Operations Agency.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this premiere (beta) and all of the exciting ways it will empower digital teams and departments across the state of California for years to come,” said Web Director. Blaine Wasilkiw wrote in a LinkedIn post. “Forward!”

The design system is intended to create a consistent look, feel, and navigation path so that Californians can more easily find the online information they need across all departments and agencies. With a focus on “user experience” (UX), the design system addresses things like typography, design style, contents and Components, and he advises developers to create clean, uncluttered sites so that even users with low bandwidth can navigate them easily. It even addresses verbiage on state sites, recommending a sixth-grade reading level for content to ensure comprehension.

The design system is an outgrowth of work started by ODI Project Alphaa digital innovation workshop led by Angelique Quirarte, former Deputy Director of ODI. Quirarte, who is now the director of federal partnerships for the Tech Talent Projectsupervised Alpha’s work in prototyping a new approach to designing government services under the ca.gov banner.

Quirarte responded to Wasylkiw’s LinkedIn post with his own comment: “This concept was born after Alpha.ca.gov and during the pandemic. Victory: Seeing ODI and CDT come together to capitalize on this. So proud of you all! I can’t wait to see where you and the other teams take this.

The design system includes sections for developers, UX and visual designers, content designers, and users. It also sets out eight key principles:

  • “Designing for people’s needs. Put the needs of Californians first in everything you do. Make your guiding question, ‘What does someone have to do?’
  • “Do the hard work to make it simple and elegant. Government services often require people to understand and navigate services and policies. Break down these barriers for them to create simple and understandable services.
  • “Accessibility first. Make your services accessible to all Californians. Consider people who have traditionally been excluded, such as people who use screen readers or reside in low-bandwidth regions.
  • “Keep it concise. Things are easy to use when they’re simple. Ask yourself, ‘Does this word, image, or feature help people do what they need to do?’
  • “Design with data: Use research and analytics to understand how people are using your services and products. This allows us to focus on their needs, not preconceived solutions.”
  • “Iterate, then iterate again. Services and products are never finished. Rigorously test and refine your work to ensure it is robust and useful.
  • “Be consistent, but not uniform. Use the guidelines for components, content, and visuals. This creates a shared and consistent experience across state departments. »
  • “Optimize performance. Not every Californian owns a high-end device. When building services and products, think about people on a range of devices and internet speeds.
  • “Make things open. As part of our commitment to transparency and collaboration, our default state is to share. The work of the Design System is open to the public.

“The whole of the Design system code is open source and hosted on GithubGenericName“, reads the notice. “This means that anyone can see how it is built, suggest improvements or adapt it to their own needs.

The new standards have been adopted by two state sites – the California Department of Cannabis Control and a COVID-19 feedback webpage, covid19.ca.gov.

Denis Noone

Dennis Noone is editor of Techwire. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as editor of USA Today in Washington, DC He lives in the foothills of northern California.

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