WeWork's Digital Foundations: Building Strong Design Systems

WeWork, a company offering shared workspaces to startups, freelancers, and small businesses, has created the "Digital Foundations", a comprehensive set of digital brand guidelines, design systems, and best practices. These foundations establish a source of truth for WeWork's design team, facilitating the development of consistently on-brand and outstanding products and design systems.

The journey of The Digital Foundations began with a humble Google Doc, a virtual haven that fostered accessibility and collaboration. This dynamic platform allowed a team of talented designers, engineers, and product managers to seamlessly share and contribute to the documentation. As time passed, this initial Google Doc transformed into a captivating website, meticulously crafted using the Rivendell design system. This digital abode not only adapts flawlessly to various devices but also showcases the design system's prowess through captivating samples in action.

The Digital Foundations have served as the basis for developing two design systems: Plasma and Rivendell. These systems have been applied by WeWork's team of designers in charge of digital product development. Plasma and Rivendell demonstrate how the Digital Foundations can reinforce existing products and establish consistent design systems in line with the brand.

The Digital Foundations serve as a crucial asset for WeWork's design team, offering a reliable reference for crafting exceptional products and design systems. Through the establishment of digital brand guidelines, design systems, and best practices, WeWork guarantees that its products maintain brand consistency and align with its robust brand identity.

These guidelines help to keep the WeWork brand consistent as we expand around the world and achieve our mission together. Ultimately, our digital foundations and brand guidelines are just that — guidelines. At the end of the day, we always trust our gut. If it doesn’t feel like “We,” it probably isn’t.

What is WeWork?

WeWork is a global network of workspaces where companies grow together. We are the platform for creators, supporting tens of thousands of businesses with more than 150 workspace locations in 14 countries. We provide refreshing workspace, powerful community, and meaningful business services to forward-thinking companies around the world. Learn more

Digital at WeWork

The nature of WeWork's business means we have a wide range of interesting challenges and opportunities in digital. Our Digital department is made up of designers, engineers and product managers — split across different teams focussing on marketing, user experience, member (customer) facing products, data, and our internal business systems and tools. Our digital foundations apply to all our digital products, but each team, product or suite of products have product foundations and design systems unique to them, to suit their needs, audience and technology.

 WeWork Long Beach Long Beach, California

Digital Foundations

Any good digital product is built upon solid foundations. It is important we establish (and help put into practice) our foundations, brand guidelines, values and standards. In the interest of consistency, user experience and standards — this documentation and our design systems per product aim to put anyone that works on our digital products at WeWork on the same page about how our products look, feel and work.

Foundations Initiative

Consistency, communication and ties between teams that work on our digital products is hard. There is clearly a need to connect with and build bridges between these teams, our designers, engineers and product managers. The ‘Foundations Initiative’ aims to establish our digital guidelines and standards, then raise awareness and adoption of those guidelines across teams — working towards building world class, consistent digital products and experiences. We're better together.


Our Digital Foundations build upon the WeWork brand guidelines to include anything that helps us design, build and maintain consistent, quality digital products. With our solid foundations in place, alongside our design systems and shared design assets — web and product design simply becomes a matter of combining our established patterns and components. This frees us to focus on user experience, problem solving, and building useful and meaningful features and products.

It’s the little things that make a big difference. Consistency is key to a good user experience. Our foundational work helps us to identify flaws or discrepancies in our products, and going forward, be and maintain being consistent. It sets high standards that we are all responsible for meeting, and being proud of what we build.

Together we strive to build world class products for our members, tools for our employees, and websites for the whole world that make anyone proud to be a part of (or want to become part of) the WeWork community or team.

 WeWork Promenade Santa Monica, California

How Does This Help Us?

Foundations, styleguides, design systems and documentation are essential for:

A Source of Truth

  • Testing and QA is easier with detailed reference materials.
  • Establishing a common language for designers and engineers, be it naming conventions, CSS and Sass variables, or consistent UI components.

Design & Standards

  • Consistency in design across our products.
  • Builds awareness and appreciation of design systems.
  • Respecting and adhering to our brand and digital guidelines.
  • Efficiency: Less time concentrating on details that the design system already accounts for. More time focussing on user experience, flows, iterating, building valuable new features, and improving our products.
  • Established foundations and design systems help to onboard new designers.


  • A healthy collaboration between designers and engineering.
  • Promotes and encourages value in design, internally across all teams.
  • Externally promotes WeWork Digital in a positive light.

WeWork's Digital Foundations play a crucial role in the company's design process. They serve as a reliable reference for developing exceptional products and design systems, empowering WeWork's design team to craft consistent and on-brand offerings that reinforce the company's brand identity.