Getting started

For developers

The UI components are built on a solid HTML foundation, progressively enhanced to provide core experiences across browsers. All users will have access to the same critical information and experiences regardless of what browser they use, although those experiences will render better in newer browsers. If JavaScript fails, users will still get a robust HTML foundation.


Here are a few different ways to use the Design System within your project.


To use the Design System on your project, you’ll need to include the CSS and JavaScript files in each HTML page in your project.

First, download the Design System assets:

Download code Version 1.4.6

Then, add the following folders into a relevant place in your code base — likely a directory where you keep third-party libraries:

├── js/
│   ├──
│   ├── uswds.min.js
│   └── uswds.js
├── css/
│   ├──
│   ├── uswds.min.css
│   └── uswds.css
├── img/
└── fonts/

Refer to these files by adding the following <link> and <script> elements into your HTML pages:

Add this to your <head> element:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="/path/to/your/assets/css/uswds.min.css">

Add this before the closing </body> tag:

<script src="/path/to/your/assets/js/uswds.min.js"></script>

We offer two versions — a minified version, and an un-minified one. Use the minified version in a production environment or to reduce the file size of your downloaded assets. And the un-minified version is better if you are in a development environment or would like to debug the CSS or JavaScript assets in the browser. The examples above recommend using the minified versions.

And that’s it — you should be set to use the Design System.

Using npm

If you have node installed on your machine, you can use npm to install the Design System. Add uswds to your project’s package.json as a dependency:

npm install --save uswds

The package will be installed in node_modules/uswds. You can use the un-compiled files found in the src/ or the compiled files in the dist/ directory.

├── dist/
│   ├── css/
│   ├── fonts/
│   ├── img/
│   ├── js/
└── src/
    ├── fonts/
    ├── img/
    ├── js/
    └── stylesheets/

require('uswds') will load all of the U.S. Web Design Standard’s JavaScript onto the page. The uswds module itself does not export anything.

The main Sass (SCSS) source file is here:


The non-minified CSS that’s been precompiled is here:


Using another framework or package manager

If you’re using another framework or package manager that doesn’t support NPM, you can find the source files in this repository and use them in your project. Otherwise, we recommend that you follow the download instructions. Please note that the core team isn’t responsible for all frameworks’ implementations.

If you’re interested in maintaining a package that helps us distribute the U.S. Web Design System, the project’s build system can help you create distribution bundles to use in your project. Please read our contribution guidelines to locally build distributions for your framework or package manager.

Need installation help?

Do you have questions or need help with setup? Did you run into any weird errors while following these instructions? Feel free to open an issue here:

You can also email us directly at

CSS architecture

For more information, visit: 18F’s CSS Front End Guide

JS customization

Unfortunately, customizing the JavaScript for the USWDS currently requires NodeJS and a module bundler like Browserify or Webpack. We apologize for this inconvenience, and are working to resolve it in a future release of the Design System.

The JavaScript for the USWDS is separated into components in the same manner as the visual interface which is all initialized with event handlers when the DOM is ready. These components are accessible as CommonJS modules that can be required in other JavaScript files which then must be built for the browser. The components are currently not accessible in the global browser scope, but can be extended to be included by requiring components and setting it to a global scope:

window.uswds = require('./components');

Each component has a standardized interface that can be used to extend it further. The components store a HTML class name (e.g. .usa-accordion-button[aria-controls]) that’s used to link HTML elements with the JS component, so when a component is initialized, it will search through the current HTML DOM finding all elements that match its class and inialize the component JavaScript for those elements. The primary methods each component has are as follows:

Some components have additional methods for manipulating specific aspects of them based on what they are and what they do. These can be found in the component’s JS file.

Customization and theming

The Design System can be customized to use different typography, colors and grid systems. The easiest way to do this is to use Sass and override the Design System’s global variables. If it isn’t possible to use Sass, do theming by overriding the CSS rules in the Design System set.

To start theming through Sass, copy the core/variables file into your own project’s Sass folder, changing applicable variable values, and importing it before the WDS. Below is an example of customizing the import of the Design System’s all.scss file.

// src/main.scss
@import 'path/to/my/scss/files/main/scss/my-custom-vars';
@import 'lib/uswds/src/stylesheets/all';
// path/to/my/scss/files/main/scss/my-custom_vars.scss

// Colors
$color-primary: #2c3e50;
$color-secondary: #ad2020;
$color-secondary-dark: #b0392e;

// Typography
$font-serif: 'Georgia', 'Times', serif;
$h2-font-size: 2rem;
$h3-font-size: 1.75rem;
$heading-line-height: 1.4;

// Grid/breakpoints
$small-screen:  540px !default;
$medium-screen: 620px !default;
$large-screen:  1120px !default;

NOTE: If you plan on upgrading to newer versions of the Design System in the future, or are not using your own forked version of the Design System, try to avoid making changes in the Design System folder itself. Doing so could make it impossible to upgrade in the future without undoing your custom changes.

Main variables that can be customized

Where things live

Browser support

We’ve designed the Design System to support older and newer browsers through progressive enhancement. The current major version of the Design System (1.0) is designed to support the newest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer 9 and up. The next major release (2.0) will follow the 2% rule: we will officially support any browser above 2% usage as observed by Currently, this means that the Design System version 2.0 will support the newest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer 11 and up.


The Design System also meets the WCAG 2.0 AA accessibility guidelines and conforms to the standards of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. We’re happy to answer questions about accessibility — email us for more information.

Contribution guidelines

We’re so glad you’re thinking about contributing to the Design System! You can find our complete contribution guidelines in our repo — please review them before submitting your contribution.

If you have any questions about these guidelines (or the Design System, more generally), don’t hesitate to email us — we’ll get back to you within 48 hours.