Design System Typography: Intent, Application, and Scale

A presentation at Smashing Conference in in New York, NY, USA by Jason Pamental

Every website and digital product has a design system of some kind. Even if it’s just a single stylesheet. But as design systems become larger, more formalized, and more mature—it helps to think about the role that typography plays in the larger system when making decisions about how to design the typographic system within.

We’ll look at two different design systems: Quahog, for the State of Rhode Island; and Chirp, and the system at Chewy—and explore how they align and diverge in their use of type and typography, design tokens, and overall use-case intent.


The following resources were mentioned during the presentation or are useful additional information.

  • Careers at Chewy

    We’ve got lots of roles in product design, research, and engineering. Have a look—we’d love to chat!

  • Figma Tokens

    A wonderfully useful plugin for Figma that enables you to connect your design system styles across libraries in Figma and components in code.

  • Theory of Type Design

    A wonderful book about type design that is aimed much more at users of type than you might expect. A seriously good read for any designer looking to understand the principles of type design in very concrete and understandable terms.

  • Introducing Quahog

    A brief write-up about designing and building a web platform for the State of Rhode Island.

  • Quahog Project source code

    The source code for the design system and Drupal distribution for the RI Web Platform

  • Web Typography Tips (newsletter archive)

    Each issue tackles an aspect of typography, many looking at the graphic design & typographic history along with code examples and why you might want to try it out.

  • Moby Dick web-based book project

    My effort to create a good online reading experience, with a link to the complete source code.

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