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Federalist + U.S. Web Design System + Jekyll

This Jekyll theme is developed using the U.S. Web Design System v 2.0 and is focused on providing developers a starter kit and reference implementation for Federalist websites.

This code uses the Jekyll site engine and built with Ruby. If you prefer to use Javascript, check out federalist-uswds-gatsby, which uses Gatsby site engine.

This project assumes that you are comfortable editing source code. If you prefer to launch a website without editing any source code, checkout uswds-jekyll, which allows you to change the layout and content with configuration files.

This project strives to be compliant with requirements set by 21st Century IDEA Act. The standards require that a website or digital service:

  • is accessible to individuals with disabilities;
  • has a consistent appearance;
  • does not duplicate any legacy websites (the legislation also requires agencies to ensure that legacy websites are regularly reviewed, removed, and consolidated);
  • has a search function;
  • uses an industry standard secure connection;
  • “is designed around user needs with data-driven analysis influencing management and development decisions, using qualitative and quantitative data to determine user goals, needs, and behaviors, and continually test the website, web-based form, web-based application, or digital service to ensure that user needs are addressed;”
  • allows for user customization; and
  • is mobile-friendly.

Key Functionality

This repository contains the following examples and functionality:

Publish blog posts, press releases, announcements, etc. To modify this code, check out blog/index.html, which manages how the posts are listed. You should then check out _layouts/post.html to see how individual posts are structured.

Publish single one-off pages. Instead of creating lots of folders throughout the root directory, you should put single pages in _pages folder and change the permalink at the top of each page. Use sub-folders only when you really need to.

Publish data (for example: job listings, links, references), you can use the template _layouts/data.html. Just create a file in you _pages folder with the following options:

title: Example Page
layout: data
permalink: /jobs
datafile: jobs

The reference to datafile referers to the name of the file in _data/jobs.yml and loops through the values. Feel free to modify this as needed.

There are two different kinds of pages, one does not have a side bar navigation, and the other uses _includes/sidenav.html. You can enable this option by adding sidenav: true to your page front matter.

title: Example Page with Sidebar
layout: page
sidenav: true
permalink: /example-page-with-sidebar

Enable search with by adding option to _config.yml.

How to edit

  • We try to keep configuration options to a minimum so you can easily remove functionality, but you can review _config.yml to see the options that are available to you. There are a few values on top that you need to change. They make reference to the agency name and contact information. The advanced options at the bottom should be changed only if you know what you know what you're doing.
  • Do not edit files in the assets/ folder. This folder is reserved for serving assets once the sites is compiled. If you want add your own custom code, add and edit files in src/, ideally mirroring the assets/ folder structure. This will keep the code repository small and not include unneccessary files.
  • If you look at package.json you will see that the npm run federalist command will copy the contents from src/ and move it over to assets/ folder during the build process. If you want more advanced functionality, you should look into using Webpack.
  • Do not edit files in the _site/ folder. These files are automatically generated and changes you make there will be destroyed.
  • You will most certainly need to edit files in _includes/, which include the primary menu, side navigation, logos etc
  • index.html may not require much editing, depending on how you customize hero.html and highlights.html.
  • _layouts/ may require the least amount of editing of all the files since they are primarily responsible for printing the content.
  • blog/index.html can be edited, but be careful. It will impact the pagination system for the posts. If you do edit the file, be prepared to edit _config.yml. You should also familiarize yourself with jekyll-paginate-v2
  • Non-developers should focus only on _posts and _pages


Clone the repository.

$ git clone
$ cd federalist-uswds-jekyll

Install the Node.js dependencies.

$ npm install

Build the site.

$ npm run build

Run the site locally.

$ npm start

Open your web browser to localhost:4000 to view your site.

After you make changes, be sure to run the tests.

$ npm test

Note that when built by Federalist, npm run federalist is used instead of the build script.

Technologies you should be familiarize yourself with


See CONTRIBUTING for additional information.

Public domain

This project is in the worldwide public domain. As stated in CONTRIBUTING:

This project is in the public domain within the United States, and copyright and related rights in the work worldwide are waived through the CC0 1.0 Universal public domain dedication.

All contributions to this project will be released under the CC0 dedication. By submitting a pull request, you are agreeing to comply with this waiver of copyright interest.

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