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Join Our Community Get started with the CDS

You can get involved by giving us feedback, writing an issue, or finding other ways to contribute. We communicate about this project in our CDS Slack workspace. Request an invitation by emailing us at Chicago Design System.

Quick Start Guide

About the Chicago Design System

The Chicago Design System (CDS) is a guide to producing delightful services and technology applications for employees and residents of the City of Chicago.

The CDS is open source (under the CC0 1.0 License), and contributions or commentary from City of Chicago employees and the public at large are welcome. In its current form, the CDS is forked from the US Web Design System, and follows its baseline standards for design. We have begun adding our own “Chicago” theming on top of this system, and more work will be done to give the CDS a unique look and feel as time goes on.


Accessibility is an essential aspect of web development for the City of Chicago. With nearly ten million people in the Chicago metropolitan area, and millions of visitors each year, accessibility means the greatest number of users can view our content.

In general, the City of Chicago follows WCAG2.0 AA as our standard for accessibility. All patterns, styles, and color combinations in the Pattern Library have been tested to comply with this standard.

See our Accessibility Standards


The CDS Pattern Library is a complete repository of our colors, fonts, and styles. It gives you the exact details to set the standard for what to implement on your site. At the same time, the Pattern Library offers assets and resources to cut down on time and standardize city sites.

When building your CDS site, make sure to reference the Pattern Library to bring your site as close as possible to the CDS standard.

See our Patterns


The CDS Playbook shows you the Chicago way of development and production. These are the services we currently offer, and have been adapted from the federal design process. Creating a well-designed, user-oriented product is of utmost importance, and as such our methods are focused around that goal.

Check back regularly, as the processes and services we offer may change, and we are always working on updates to our playbook.

See our Playbook