Creating a Style Guide: One-Stop Place for Your UI Design Team

Creating a Style Guide: One-Stop Place for Your UI Design Team

Written by Alison Lurie, In UI/UX, Published On
November 23, 2022

The design process is not a static journey from point A to point B. As your business grows and your product enjoys broader online coverage, it has to be presented consistently across channels. Thus, a style guide is a set of guidelines for UX and UI designers that ensures such consistency.

It’s an essential part of the web product’s documentation that explains how and why specific design decisions were made. Therefore, when you hire UI/UX design agency, you must ensure that their designers are familiar with UI/UX style guide composition, informing further project work and avoiding duplicate design hassle. Here, we dwell on the UI style guide in more detail to explain how it works and how you can set up your own one. 

What Is a UI Style Guide?

UI Style Guide

In a nutshell, a UI style guide is a shared record that contains all details about the product’s look and features. It serves as a universal reference, mandatory for every team member to avoid mismatch and design heterogeneity. With the rise of distributed teams in the modern post-COVID workplace, teams may find it extremely hard to make design parts cohesive; thus, a style guide helps harmonize everyone’s efforts and ensure the consistency of UI and UX.

Why Do You Need a UI Style Guide?

The most important advantage of having an agreed UI style guide is saving time. You won’t need to ponder over multiple versions of design to make a decision. Using the guide can lead the designers in the right direction without violating the approved design principles for a specific product.

Once the UI style guide is compiled effectively, it provides the following business benefits: 

  • Better designer and developer communication and teamwork.
  • UI/UX consistency throughout the product and its promotion channels.
  • Easier onboarding of new team members.
  • Simpler negotiation loop with the company’s clients and investors.
  • More consistent, branded marketing of the company’s numerous products.
  • More manageable features and design tracking for timely update introduction.

What Elements to Include in the Guide?

Every complete UI style guide should cover the following design aspects for your digital project: 

  • Typography
  • Grids
  • Iconography
  • Color palette
  • UI elements

Now let’s discuss each section in more detail to show how it contributes to the overall UI guidance.

  • Typography

Simply put, your typography is the choice of fonts and their sizes for various textual elements of your website or app. Still, typography is much more than a set of fonts. Text produces a powerful psychological effect on the users, so it’s closely connected with your product’s branding.

The style guide should contain data about: 

  • The minimum and maximum font sizes for the text elements.
  • Data about the font family you’re using or the principles of font pairing (if you use different fonts)
  • Clear guidelines for font sizes for page titles, subheadings, and paragraphs to achieve consistency on all pages.
  • Details of the font size, weight, and color used in the textual blocks.
  • Grids

The grid settings of your app or website are vital for a seamless UX among users visiting your web product from different devices. A rule of thumb is to make websites responsive today, ensuring that every user will receive a frictionless experience when accessing your product from a desktop, tablet, or smartphone.

Besides, the confirmed grid policy ensures that all web pages have consistent proportions and follow a unified standard of component alignment. These visual principles help enhance UX and lay the basis for readable, usable web pages.

The style guide’s components for the grid settings should cover: 

  • Size and number of units
  • The grid’s gutter
  • Columns and containers
  • Iconography

Icons are also important UI elements that deliver vital information and give user prompts with the help of easily recognizable visual cues. Their simple and understandable design rests on the recall principles and helps UI designers save space and experiment with creative icons.

So, a style guide will benefit from:

  • A stack of icons ready for download by every team member
  • A detailed specification for icons’ design, with dimensions and grid indicated for consistency
  • Colors

The color palette of your project plays a vital role in design-related decisions. Your branded colors can be mixed the way you deem necessary for this or that design element; they can vary in intensity and shades in different places of the website, thus giving you freedom of choice and experimentation within the agreed set of colors.

To make your style guide informative and helpful for designers, you should indicate: 

  • The primary and secondary color palettes
  • Text colors
  • A palette of grays (a universal color substitute that often works well in visual elements’ design)

Some brands also have a tertiary color palette. If you add all three palette versions to the style guide, it may be appropriate to indicate a use case for each.

For instance, the primary color palette is used in: 

  • CTA buttons
  • Page headers
  • Links
  • Interactive elements of the website

Besides, you need to agree on the universal background color used throughout your product and the system colors designers can apply to different system elements (e.g., warnings, error alerts, and notifications about the successful completion of user actions).

  • UI Elements

A successful, intuitive user interface should be easily navigable and contain only the minimum set of action buttons and prompts for the user to complete the intended action. Therefore, when you document the UI elements necessary for your UI, it’s vital to keep them down to a minimum and focus only on the components adding value.

This list typically includes: 

  • Buttons
  • Drop-down menus
  • Textual blocks
  • Interactive elements designating the app’s states (active, disabled, default, etc.)
  • Tabs
  • Progress bars
  • UI element sizes and spacing between them

Treat a UI Style Guide as a Process

This article might have created a false impression that the UI/UX style guide is a document you compose once and for all. In fact, it never happens this way, as you need to work on it continually, introducing changes every time your design approach changes. Design is an iterative, evolving process, and the style guide should reflect all these dynamics to give all team members updated, relevant guidance for design work.

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