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Styling Hilary

Focus of the presentation: How I built a design system used by dozens of apps How I implemented redesign of

The Story of Pantsuit

  • Kyle Rush, Deputy CTO, Hillary for America: “We need a Bootstrap and it needs a good name…”
    • Mina: Naming things is hard…
      • Pattern Library - Library of UI patterns (e.g. UI kit)
      • Framework - The front-end code
      • Style Guide - The documentation for the CSS framework
      • Design system - All of the above (see Nate Baldwin’s “Anatomy of a Design System”)
  • Mina was not at all convinced why it should be named “Pantsuit”
  • Why build a design system?
    • is a very large and prolific piece of engineering
      • E.g. had a different codebase (also
    • We had multiple codebases. And needed one UI.
  • The Pantsuit team… was just me. I had to make a lot of decisions myself (especially those of time and speed)
    • DONE is better than perfect
    • “If we don’t ship on time, the ship will have sailed” - Stephanie Hannon, CTO
  • Pantsuit 1.0 was built in 6 weeks
    • Technical debt becomes your friend
    • As time progressed, maintainability went down and stability went up
    • MORAL: If you don’t have technical debit, you’re not moving fast enough.

How Pantsuit was Built

  • First version was a code rewrite
    • Did a CSS Audit of the entire site to identify opportunities for refactoring
    • Did a UI Audit, i.e. inventory of the visual elements (e.g. navigation, buttons, headings)
  • Building Pantsuit 2.0
    • (Re)define - Implement - Test - Iterate
      • Define what the components are
        • Given a page, look for repeating patterns
        • Learned that I needed to separate the semantic name and the class heading
        • She translated the UI elements into CSS
      • Implement (i.e. Code it live)
        • Constant back and forth among Framework, Product, and UI Kit
      • Test and Iterate
        • As I was building the site, I was repeatedly checking for accessibility (using WAVE)
        • Accessibility testing revealed that the site had focused states but not have hover states
        • Had to strike compromises with visual design in the name of accessibility
  • Mina: I sought out as much collaboration as possible
    • Through the “Pantsuit Council”
    • Decided to document AS MUCH as possible
  • “The documentation for Pantsuit is a great example of form following function: it served as a source of inspiration as well as a how-to” - Beth Andres-Beck, Senior Fundraiser


  • Developers felt Pantsuit was the best tool they had ever had
  • HRC was excited about the design system too
  • Harassment
    • “I doubt that she wrote it herself”
    • Fake News - misinformation.