There are a few different ways to use the Design System within your project. Which one you choose depends on the needs of your project and how you are most comfortable working. Here are a few notes on what to consider when deciding which installation method to use:
Download the Design System if:
- You are not familiar with
npmand package management.
Use the Design System
npm package if:
- You are familiar with using
npmand package management.
First, download the Design System assets:
After extracting the zip file you should see the following file and folder structure:
uswds-1.6.1/ ├── css/ │ ├── uswds.min.css.map │ ├── uswds.min.css │ └── uswds.css ├── fonts/ ├── img/ ├── js/ │ ├── uswds.min.js.map │ ├── uswds.min.js │ └── uswds.js └── scss/
Copy these files and folders into a relevant place in your project’s code base. Here is an example structure for how this might look:
You’ll notice in our example above that we also outline a
assetsfolder. These folders are to help organize any assets that are unique to your project.
Add the stylesheet
<head>to load the CSS:
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/path/to/your/assets/css/uswds.min.css">
<script>near the end of your page, right before the closing
Here’s an example of how to reference these assets in your
And that’s it — you should now be able to copy our code samples into your site’s HTML and start using the Design System.
Install using npm
npm is a package manager for Node based projects. The U.S. Web Design System maintains a
uswds package for you to utilize both the pre-compiled and compiled files on your project.
Node/npm. Below is a link to find the install method that coincides with your operating system:
Node v4.2.3+, Installation guides
Note for Windows users: If you are using Windows and are unfamiliar with
npm, we recommend following Team Treehouse’s tutorial for more information.
Make sure you have installed it correctly:
npm -v 3.10.8 # This line may vary depending on what version of Node you've installed.
package.jsonfile. You can do this manually, but an easier method is to use the
npm initcommand. This command will prompt you with a few questions to create your
uswdsto your project’s
npm install --save uswds
uswdsmodule is now installed as a dependency. You can use the un-compiled files found in the
src/or the compiled files in the
node_modules/uswds/ ├── dist/ │ ├── css/ │ ├── fonts/ │ ├── html/ │ ├── img/ │ ├── js/ └── src/ ├── fonts/ ├── img/ ├── js/ ├── stylesheets/ └── templates/
Since you are already using
npm, the U.S. Web Design System team recommends leveraging the ability to write custom scripts. Here are some links to how we do this with our docs website using
The Design System is easily customizable using the power of Sass (Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets). The main Sass (SCSS) source file is located here:
Global variables are defined in the
node_modules/uswds/src/stylesheets/core/_variables.scss file. Custom theming can be done by copying the
_variables.scss file into your own project’s Sass folder, changing applicable variable values, and importing it before
Below is an example of how you might setup your main Sass file to achieve this:
@import 'variables.scss'; # Custom Sass variables file @import 'node_modules/uswds/src/stylesheets/uswds.scss';
You can now use your copied version of
_variables.scss to override any styles to create a more custom look and feel to your application.
The Design System uses gulp-autoprefixer to automatically add vendor prefixes to the precompiled stylesheets (
css/uswds.css) however prefixes will not be applied when using the Sass source files directly. If your project requires the use of Sass and vendor prefixes we recommend incorportaing a plugin such as Autoprefixer into your build process.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The CSS foundation of this site is built with the Sass preprocessor language.
- Uses Bourbon for its simple and lightweight Sass mixin library, and the Neat library for the grid framework. Bourbon and Neat are open-source products from thoughtbot.
- The CSS organization and naming conventions follow 18F’s CSS Front End Guide.
- CSS selectors are prefixed with
.usa-button). This identifier helps the design system avoid conflicts with other styles on a site which are not part of the U.S. Web Design System.
- Uses a modified BEM approach created by 18F for naming CSS selectors. Objects in CSS are separated by single dashes. Multi-word objects are separated by an underscore (For example:
- Uses modular CSS for scalable, modular, and flexible code.
- Uses nesting when appropriate. Nest minimally with up to two levels of nesting.
- Hard-coded magic numbers are avoided and, if necessary, defined in the
- Media queries are built mobile first.
- Spacing units are as much as possible defined as rem or em units so they scale appropriately with text size. Pixels can be used for detail work and should not exceed 5px (For example: 3px borders).
For more information, visit: 18F’s CSS Front End Guide
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.
off: The opposite of
hide: Hide the whole component.
show: Shows a whole, hidden component.
toggle: Toggles the visibility of a component on and off based on the previous state.
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;
Set the base asset path (fonts and images)
If you copy the USWDS
dist directory to a folder on your project or your fonts and images are in the same folder, set the location of the directory with
$asset-path: path/to/my/assets/. The default is set to
$asset-path: ../. This will be appended to the font and image path variables so you only need to set this variable. You can also set the font and image paths individually:
$font-path: path/to/my/fonts; $image-path: path/to/my/images;
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
- Colors can be found in the
core/variablesfile, line 35.
- Font families can be found in the
core/variablesfile, line 28.
- Typography sizing can be found in
core/variablesfile, line 13.
- Grid and breakpoint settings can be found in
core/variablesfile, line 87.
Where things live
- HTML markup for the components is located in:
src/htmlin the site root.
- Sass styles are located in:
src/stylesheets/ (/core, /elements, /components). Compiled CSS is located in the downloadable zip file .
- JS is located in:
src/js/components (accordion.js, toggle-field-mark.js, toggle-form-input.js, validator.js).
- Fonts are located in:
- Images and icons are located in:
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 analytics.usa.gov. 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.
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.