Building a UX frontend framework for government apps

Late 2014 I got aboard a great UX/frontend team in Antwerp, devised with the task of preparing a set of unified blocks to build more rapidly government apps, some administration facing, some citizen facing. The problem they encountered over the years is that UX was not always top of mind (or even a concern) of the project or business owners. And that technologies sometimes dictated how an app looked.

The result was a incoherent way of look and feel and interactions at best, or a horrible mess at worst.

With the advent of the new where they already deconstructed the familiar city website into a collection of useful apps, making it more a digital portal for communication from and with the city’s administration, a base had been set where we could take notes from.

Now, there are already a lot of frontend frameworks, most popular ones being Foundation and Bootstrap.

But those didn’t fit because they were either too generalist in approach or lacked the UX finesse that was needed for this kind of project. Though the Bootstrap syntax was followed as closely as possible because it’s familiarity with a lot of developers. UX was done element by element, building on the principles of Atomic Design Brad Frost had laid out. While me and Jasper were laying down the frontend code, discussing and structuring using best practices as close as possible, SMACSS, OOCSS, BEM etc, Angular directives were written for even easier implementation for the various components.

Tink got it’s name from the verb to tinker and Tinkerbel, and I had a blast while working on the project.