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Bringing to life the University of Edinburgh Design System

The University of Edinburgh Design System


If you have not heard about the University of Edinburgh Design System then now is the time. With the creation of the new Web Publishing Platform comes an opportunity to evolve our Pattern Library (currently known as EdGEL) and create a one-stop-shop where you can easily reach for whatever you need to design and build digital products. The aim of the Design System is to provide a platform-agnostic repository of digital experience insights, tools and support materials. These will enable us, as a community, to spend less time needlessly creating the same things over and over – slightly different every time – and instead spend more time focussing on the more fundamental problems which enable us all to create delightful digital experiences for our users that we identify as being University of Edinburgh.

Over the last few months, the Design System team have been striving for a deep understanding of how our staff currently create, build and adapt digital products and services. We’ve been learning from colleagues across the University and directly feeding this knowledge into the design system information architecture and prototype storefront.


The Design System product progress


The product team has focussed on establishing a product roadmap, fundamental in helping us to align around the strategic direction and set key milestones for delivery. This has focussed our activities on small, achievable chunks that has enabled progess.

We have created the basis of our contribution process, (a key element of any Design System) and in the new year will be accelerating the testing of it with the WPP team and Communications and Marketing. The contribution process will enable our users to directly evolve and grow the Design System by contributing or proposing new things whether that be components, new design patterns or content. Ari Cass-Maran has been using the Inclusive Language Guide to test our contribution process and more can be read about how she has done this here:


The current iteration of the Design System’s contribution process and each of the stages that a contribution or proposal will go through.


In addition to this, we have been busy building a UI library in the design tool Figma. The aim is to share the libraries are building, within this tool, with our community to enable an easier and quicker design and prototyping process.  The Figma libraries will house all the core EdGEL and brand style elements, meaning that they no longer need to be created from scratch and in addition to this, the Design System team will manage and keep it updated every time something new is contributed.

With regards to building the Design System itself (DS 0.1) development is in progress and we have been establishing what is required for the component content pages. Emma Horrell has written more about this:
The Pattern Library ( currently known as EdGEL) has migrated from Bootstrap 3 to Bootstrap 5 and the release of EdGEL 5.0 will soon be production ready.

Next year, the Design System product team, will  continue collaborating more closely with our core University stakeholders on testing the contribution process, auditing the core Design System components, building and creating content for the Design System platform (Storefront) and delivering Design System 0.1. Look out for more to come in 2022.

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