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About the Scottish Government Design System

What the Design System is, who should use it and the benefits of using it.

The Design System is a catalogue of reusable styles, components and patterns from the Scottish Government.  

The Design System is open source and free to use to build consistent and accessible online services. 

It’s designed and maintained by a multi-disciplinary team in the Scottish Government’s Digital Directorate. 

Benefits of using the Design System 

Using the Design System to build online services means you can: 

  • save time and money – compared to building new components and patterns 
  • create prototypes quickly and easily for early user testing 
  • use the components to build patterns that are unique to your service  
  • create consistent user experiences across government services  
  • track user behaviour – using built-in tracking HTML attributes with analytics tools 
  • build accessible, inclusive services – the patterns and components are accessible 

Websites built with the Scottish Government Design System have approximately 55 times fewer accessibility issues than websites that do not (Accessibility Cloud testing, April 2024). 

Who should use the Design System 

We expect the Design System to be used to build online services commissioned and delivered by: 

  • Scottish Government directorates or policy areas 
  • Scottish Government campaigns with an approved sub brand 
  • organisations in the Technology Assurance Framework - check the Technology Assurance Framework on gov.scot 

Use of the Design System is part of the Digital Scotland Service Standard assessment of new government services. Read about the Digital Scotland Service Standard on gov.scot

This includes services such as: 

  • websites  
  • micro-services – for example, online application forms 
  • web applications 

Other Scottish public sector bodies   

We recommend that other public sector organisations use the Design System to build online services as there are benefits to doing this. Check the National Public Bodies directory on gov.scot.

Adapting the Design System to your brand 

The Design System is designed to be accessible and meet colour contrast standards. Testing has shown that colour contrast is one of the most common accessibility fails on public sector websites (Accessibility Cloud testing, April 2024). 

Some organisations can adapt the colours of components and patterns and add their own logo to express their brand identity. 

Services using the Design System 

The Design System is currently used by services such as: 

Organisations in the process of adopting the Design System are:

  • National Records of Scotland
  • Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service
  • Scottish Forestry
  • Scottish Public Pension Agency

Contact the Design System team  

We’d like to hear from you if:  

  • you’re building or commissioning an online service 
  • you need a pattern or component that’s not on the Design System  
  • you've got feedback about using the Design System  

Email designsystem@gov.scot.  

Blogs about the design system 

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