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Case studies

We helped an Australian Government department build a Design System to support their digital transformation goals.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry embarked on a digital transformation initiative to replace inefficient paper-based systems with digital apps to help Aussie producers reach overseas markets faster. We helped them build an accessible and themeable open source Design System based on a modern React stack.

Technology used

  • Node.js
2 versions of The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry homepage themed in green and blue juxtaposed side by side

Highlights

  • Built a themeable Design System to power multiple web apps
  • Partnered with internal product teams to improve front-end code standards across the service
  • Coached internal Designers & Developers in more collaborative ways of working
  • Paved the way for adoption by other government departmentswith a ground-up React rebuild of Australia’s Gold Design System
  • React accessibility support was noted as exemplary by independent 3rd party auditors
  • The Design System significantly reduced implementation effort required to enact departmental rebranding
  • AgDS is already powering the department’s new Export Service Portal (opens in new window) with more adoptions to come

Overview

Watch Thinkmill developers Jordan Overbye and Nathan Simpson outline the origins of AgDS, the goals for this government project and their many collective achievements – including exemplary accessibility ratings.

A modern React implementation of the legacy Australian Government Design System

The Australian Government’s official Design System had been discontinued in 2021. It moved to a community governed model but needed upgrading to today’s tools.

An illustration of components and technology that make up the DAFF design system

We rebuilt a new React-based version (opens in new window) and released it under an open source license. The improved version includes theming, responsive components, a community Figma resource (opens in new window), Storybook (opens in new window) for tests, Playroom (opens in new window) for collaborative design, as well as detailed guidance (opens in new window) and examples to support adoption across multiple teams.

Exemplary Accessibility

Accessibility support is an important criterion for Australian government department tools. The Design System achieved AA-level compliance against the WCAG v2.1 standard from independent 3rd party auditor Intopia who now refer to it as an exemplary implementation of an accessible React- based Design System.

The Department of Agriculture’s design system site presents very minor accessibility barriers for users with disability and is a credit to the Department of Agriculture’s time and effort towards making the application accessible.

Intopia avatarIntopia avatar

Intopia

Accessibility & WCAG compliance consultants

A systematic way to rebrand

The design system and digital transformation initiative was originally started by the Department of Agriculture, Water & Environment. When the labor government was elected in 2022 the new Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry was formed to replace it.

The pre-existence of a Design System made the process of rebranding the department’s many digital surfaces much more efficient. The rebranding requirement became a catalyst for broader adoption of the design system as it was the most effective way to meet the short term need and introduced better ways of working.

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A photo of Jed Watson & Boris Bozic together

We’d love to work with you

Have a chat with one of our co-founders, Jed or Boris, about how Thinkmill can support your organisation’s software ambitions.

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