Accessibility

Accessibility

Tailor your digital experience to your specific needs by adjusting the accessibility preferences below
tool-icon
Reduce motion
tool-icon
Dark mode
tool-icon
Large text
tool-icon
Large spacing
Get in touch
Main menu
Accessibility

Accessibility

Tailor your digital experience to your specific needs by adjusting the accessibility preferences below
tool-icon
Reduce motion
tool-icon
Dark mode
tool-icon
Large text
tool-icon
Large spacing
Get in touch

Why using a UI style guide is important

Billy Fenton

In the field of UI/UX design, consistency is key to delivering a seamless user experience. A UI style guide is an essential tool that helps designers maintain a unified visual identity across all aspects of a digital interface. This guide not only ensures that all design elements are cohesive and aligned with the brand’s aesthetic but also simplifies the process of updating and maintaining the interface. In this article, we will delve into the significance of UI style guides, explore their core components, and explain how they can elevate your design projects to new heights.

 

What is a UI style guide?

UI (user interface) style guides are a vital tool in the arsenal of every UI/UX designer. They help designers to implement a visual identity across all areas of a UI design. Not only does this ensure consistency across the visual elements, but it also helps to maintain a logical UI system, which ultimately paves the way for a better user experience (UX).

Once a UI design is online and working efficiently, the UI style guide can then become a ‘live’ style guide. Doing this will ensure that future updates and any site maintenance can be as seamless as possible, while also providing a consistent implementation guide for existing team members or clients. Additionally, a style guide can also streamline the onboarding process of new team members by allowing them to understand a company’s visual identity quickly.

 

The essential elements of a UI style guide

The essential components that make up a good style guide, include colour, typography, UI elements, grids and breakpoints.

 

Colour

Colour is arguably the most important asset of any brand, conveying its personality and tone of voice, and is therefore an integral element of a UI style guide.

Generally, when setting up a style guide, it is good practice to break down the brand colours into distinct categories: primary, secondary and tertiary. The primary colours are most prominent and are usually limited to 2-3. Secondary colours are often used to support the primary colours; to add visual accents, and the tertiary colours are there to indicate different use states of UI elements within the design.

The consideration of how colour works across all elements of a UI design will not only add a level of sophistication, but also increase the usability of the UI.

Colour palate showing colour descriptions and HEX codes.

Typography

Often underestimated, typography plays a fundamental role in creating effective UI experiences. Typography can add personality, build on a brand’s values and visually communicate a tone of voice. In addition, it is also important to consider legibility and readability, as this will impact how accessible and inclusive your UI design is to the brand’s audience.

In the context of a UI style guide, establishing typographic rules is essential to creating consistency across a UI design. When setting typographic rules it is important to consider aspects, such as:

  • Hierarchy of typography: e.g. Headings, Sub-headings and Body copy
  • Weight
  • Colour
  • Leading and letter spacing

All these aspects of typography ultimately influence the flow of information, but also the user experience (UX) of a UI design.

Hierarchy of typography

UI elements

Making up the vast majority of any UI style guide are the UI elements that populate the interface. These elements are integral to providing consistency and clear navigation around a UI.

The style guide should include comprehensive definitions, properties and rules for the UI elements within the design, while also including the different size variables. For example, there may be three size specifications for a single button – large, medium and small – which will be used across different screen sizes. Some of these UI elements include:

  • Buttons
  • Input Fields
  • Forms
  • Menus
  • Icons
  • Toolbars
  • Lists

In addition, it is also important to define properties and rules for interactive use states. Interactive states are very important to any UI design as they increase the overall user experience of the UI, providing feedback points that allow the user to keep track of their progress. Examples of interactive states to consider include:

  • Standard (Default)
  • Active
  • Disabled
  • Hover or touch

Grids

To maintain consistency across the pages of a UI design, it is important to consider the structure of the grids that form the basis of the layout. Doing this not only helps to maintain consistency, but also simplifies the process of editing or creating additional pages in the future.

Imagery and graphics

The use of imagery and graphics within a UI design is fundamental to the experience of the user. The UI style guide should consider these and outline standards for how elements such as the logo, icons, imagery and infographics should be used. The standards set can range from limiting colour usage and considering size (especially in the cases of the logo and icons), to the typographic hierarchy within infographics.

Breakpoints

What happens when things go wrong? Errors within an interface can occur for any number of reasons and it is important that our UI’s response to these is taken into consideration. These could take the form of error messages, alerts or in some cases pages — a 404 page for example. In the UI style guide, the properties of all these error fields need to be defined using some of the previously mentioned elements such as colour and typography. Doing this will improve the user experience (UX) and help to mitigate and resolve any problems that may happen.

 

Why use a style guide?

Why does using a style guide matter? There are a number of benefits to implementing a UI style guide to your interface design:

  1. The first benefit refers to how style guides help designers to think about how the interface design works, considering how the design can be scalable across different platforms, how to make the usability of the interface feel as natural as possible and how the components of the interface can have flexibility for different applications.
  2. As mentioned previously, UI style guides also ensure the consistent implementation of design elements across the interface and are especially helpful when there are additions to websites or apps further down the line.
  3. Implementing a style guide also provides a holistic view of the entire interface design, which will make it easy to spot and correct any inconsistencies or errors during the refinement process.
  4. After the design phase of a UI interface project, the next stage is to pass over the designs to developers to begin the building process. A UI style guide is the perfect tool for this as it allows developers access to the entire interface design, which includes all the assets as well as notes on all the nuances that give the design personality and originality.

 

Consistency

Perhaps the most significant benefit of having a UI style guide is the way in which they can improve the overall user experience through consistent implementation of design elements. Ensuring consistency is key to creating a great user experience across your interface design. Doing so allows users to understand and recognise how elements work quickly, which gives them confidence to navigate their way around the interface in a natural, easy and stress-free way.

Consistency in UI design takes many forms, ranging from user interactions and how elements work to the way in which assets may look and be applied. Let’s take a simple button for example.

 

Appearance: The way in which buttons appear across an interface must be visually consistent in shape and design, so the user can always recognise when a button is available.

Colour: We could then look at elements such as colour usage, so when the button is in different states (idle, roll-over, pressed), how does the colour change to reflect these? During state changes colour can play an important role as it can provide the user with visual feedback, which allows them to see that a process is underway.

Once the button is pressed, what happens next? Is there a loading animation or transition that alongside the colour change further indicates that a process is its motion. Whatever it may be, it is important that these treatments are consistent across the entire UI design to bring clarity and confidence to the user’s experience of your interface design.

In conclusion, UI style guides are an integral part of every UI design system and help us as UI designers to ensure consistent implementation of design elements across multi-page interfaces. So when creating your own style guide, we recommend taking into consideration some of the points mentioned in this article.

 

Let’s talk about solutions

Discover how Make it Clear can elevate your organisation with our expert services. Contact us now to start the conversation!


Back to top