Case Studies

Why Trimble opted for an open-source style guide on Netlify

Netlify and Trimble logos

Case Studies

Why Trimble opted for an open-source style guide on Netlify

Netlify and Trimble logos

Company style guides—often considered the holy grail for brand consistency—are typically internal documents that overview a brand's voice, tone, and visual language. However, Trimble opted to build its Trimble Modus Design System as an open-source project on Netlify.

At a high level, here’s why an open-source style guide with Netlify made sense:

  • Streamlined collaboration: Internal and external individuals can contribute wherever and whenever they want to.
  • Enhanced visibility: Automatic deploy previews allow all contributors to preview the site before it lands in production.
  • Easy to find: Indexed on Google and validated with Lighthouse scores, the design system is only a quick query away.
  • Stronger toolset: Certain tools that work with GitHub are free for open-source projects.
  • Intuitive developer experience: Netlify’s user interface is intuitive for contributors.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

The challenge

Trimble, a global technology company developing hardware and software across several industries, faced an all-too-common challenge: unifying its brand across a global team. Amid acquisitions, diverse global needs, countless product lines, accessibility standards, and more, Trimble needed to simplify and unify all their design systems, frameworks, and tools to reduce the duplication of efforts.

"We needed a style guide that’s accessible and looks good straight away without the developer needing to think about it." -Christian Oliff, Webmaster & Frontend Developer, Trimble

Suppose you’ve never experienced an acquisition or attempted to align a massive organization around a single, self-serve style guide. In that case, it may be difficult to imagine the scale of this effort. It’s large. Oliff knew there had to be a better way than an internal document or the status quo they were currently experiencing with their tech-laden process.

The solution

After experiencing technical difficulties rolling out this initiative on more traditional technologies, Oliff and the team migrated off their existing stack to Netlify to help the entire organization collaborate and build great digital experiences for Trimble customers.

What began as a need to have a consistent look and feel between Trimble products and apps, grew to be a massive open-source library of iconography, accessibility guidelines, and must-know information for content creation.

But this couldn’t be done in a silo.

So the Trimble team launched an open source project to leverage the collective knowledge of all their design and development teams. One of the greatest benefits of this open-source style guide is its ability to incorporate external contributors. Today, Trimble is collaborating with 49 total contributors—both internally and externally. For many organizations, this amount of collaborators could be complex and unwieldy. However, with Netlify, the challenge is alleviated through deploy previews. Whoever makes a pull request automatically gets a deploy preview, (no matter where or who they are) so streamlining collaboration between contributors and maintainers is a breeze.

What’s more Trimble can review embedded Lighthouse scores and reports for each site deployment—which happens every week—with the Netlify Lighthouse build plugin. This could be scaled up without issue and helps them understand different aspects of their site’s web performance, SEO, accessibility, and more.

These details mattered greatly to Oliff as he recounted:

“Having the site's code open-source and public for everyone to see makes it really easy for everyone to find and contribute to it via GitHub—no matter who they are or where they’re from.”

This greatly helps Trimble drive usage of their style guide—making it further reaching and easier to find than more traditional approaches. Currently, they’re seeing 11k page views per month—a staggering number for a company style guide.

Another element that Oliff cites as important for his project is the tools that work with Github like CodeQL and security scans that are free for open-source projects.

What’s next for the Trimble Modus Design System?

Content with the features Netlify offers—coupled with an unparalleled developer experience—Oliff is excited to continue building out the Trimble Modus Design System.

“The Netlify platform is a pleasure to work with. It provides a great developer experience out of the box and I like that there are always useful, new features and improvements being added to the platform.”

One thing he’s excited about is localization. Looking ahead to supporting hundreds of languages could be a challenge in most circumstances, but with an open-source approach, local people can contribute to the site in local languages that address local challenges.

Curious if launching your open-source project is the right move for you or your business? Get in touch with one of our experts today.

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