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screen shot 2016-06-21 at 4 00 38 pm

🗣 New: We're talking about the future of Open Design Kit on Slack. Join us!


Open Design Kit is maintained as an open source tool. It's design for collaborators who are not co-located, with a variety of skill levels. No prior design experience is required for you to try out these methods, just an open mind. The Kit includes activities from ideation to implementation and is meant to evolve with use. To share your feedback or add a method, open an issue or pull request on our GitHub repository.

Prior to August 2017, the kit was incubated and maintained at Bocoup.

What's the big idea?

Design literacy needs to be constantly developed and improved throughout the software and product development industry. Designers must constantly level up their skillsets with lifelong learning. Engineers often need to learn how to collaborate and incorporate new practices into their workflow to successfully support the integration of design. Product and projec stakeholders are repeatedly challenged by the fact that design is a verb, not a noun that is handed off, but a verb that needs constant attention. To address this, we are openly compiling a suite of learning materials, methods, and systems to help our staff, clients, colleagues, and community better understand how we design and when to roll up their sleeves and get in on the action. It is our hope that this exploration will be useful for companies and individuals to incorporate into their practice.

So, why does the world need another compilation of tools? Here’s why:

  • To establish what it means to design in the open, with practical methods designed for distributed collaborators.
  • To provide a framework for design thinking and conversations within open source development.
  • To collect practical ways to interleave design and development in an open and transparent way that works for diverse stakeholders.
  • To share open educational resources to support design literacy

Running the kit locally

If you're comfortable with the command-line and the Jekyll static site generator, you can run the kit locally on your machine and make changes to it.

If you're already familiar with Ruby, you can set up and run the site via bundler.

However, if you're unfamiliar with Ruby or just want to get started more quickly, you can use Docker Community Edition. Once you've downloaded and installed Docker, cd into the repository's root directory in your terminal and run:

docker-compose up

You may need to wait a while for it to download dependencies. Once it's done, you can visit http://localhost:4000/ to view the site.

How to get involved

Please see the contributing doc for more information. The easiest way to dive in:

  1. If you've never contributed to project, reply to an Issue thread with a "first-timer-friendly" label.

  2. If you are repeat contributor, reply to an Issue thread with the "help wanted" label.

How to Use the Kit

There is no set order of operations for getting started with the kit. The idea is that once you find yourself in a jam, you can reference the kit to identify tools and practices to support you in getting from problem identification to solution.

The kit also helps to bridge the gap between the work of design and the work of implementing a design, there are ideas and thoughts about how to do that and hopefully help the process go smoothly. Design kits are not generic. What works for one community/company might not suit another. If the methods in here don't resonate with you that's totally ok, and better yet - submit ones that do!

Accessible design, by and for everyone

While these practices have been road tested for open source projects, they can be used by anyone, anywhere on any project. If that isn’t the case, go ahead a remix them! Design should be accessible and responsive to the unique needs of specific inquiries, problems and abilities.


This exploration was inspired by many individuals and organizations. A few projects that do a great job at identifying design tools and practices are Ideo's HCD Design Kit, 18F's Methods and Design Principles. The goal of this kit is not to replace these resources, but to live beside them.


high five

Many creative individuals have contributed in some form to the project - including:

  • Jess Klein
  • Susan Robertson
  • Sue Lockwood
  • Pam Drouin
  • Isaac Durazo
  • Irene Ros
  • Yannick Assogba
  • Jim Vallandingham
  • Lorin Bond
  • Brian Brennan
  • Boaz Sender
  • Mat 'Wilto' Marquis
  • Ricardo Vazquez
  • Doug Belshaw
  • Atul Varma
  • Michael Champlin


Open Design Kit is a living toolkit for designing with distributed collaborators.







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