Skip to content


We’ve researched the needs of Californians and created these principles to help state departments create great websites, services, and products.

Principle 1

Design for people's needs

Put the needs of Californians first in everything you do. Make your guiding question, “What does someone need to do?”

The page feedback component makes it easy to learn about the needs of your audience.

Principle 2

Do the hard work to make it simple and elegant

Government services often put the burden on people to understand and navigate services and policies. Break down these barriers for them to create simple, understandable services.

The step list component takes complicated processes and makes their steps transparent.

Principle 3

Prioritize accessibility

Make your services accessible for all Californians. Think about people who have been traditionally excluded, like people who use screen readers or reside in low bandwidth regions.

Our visual design style guide includes direction on how to create accessible design. All production-level components are WCAG 2.1 compliant.

Principle 4

Be concise

Things are easy to use when they’re simple. Ask yourself, “Does this word, image, or functionality help people do what they need to do?”

Our content design guidelines provide actionable tips for writing in plain language. This makes information to the point and easy to read.

Principle 5

Design with data

Use research and analytics to understand how people use your services and products. This keeps us focused on their needs, not preconceived solutions.

Design System components work seamlessly with Google Analytics. This gathers information about the people who use your services and their needs.

Principle 6

Iterate, then iterate again

Services and products are never finished. Rigorously test and refine your work to make sure it’s robust and useful.

We continuously look at data and improve Design System components. Our In research, Alpha, Beta, and Production labels show what development track each component is in.

Principle 7

Be consistent, but not uniform

Use the component, content, and visual guidelines. This creates a shared, consistent experience across state departments.

The statewide header is a default component of the Design System. This helps people know they are on a website.

Principle 8

Optimize performance

Not every Californian has a high-end device. When you build services and products, think about people on a range of devices and internet speeds.

Websites built by the Office of Digital Innovation with Design System components have Lighthouse scores of 90 or more when throttled to low mobile CPU or Fast 3G bandwidth settings.

Principle 9

Make things open

As part of our commitment to transparency and collaboration, our default state is to share. Design System work is open to the public.

All of the Design System code is open source and hosted on Github. This means anyone can see how it's built, suggest improvements, or adapt it for their own purposes.