Let’s face it—web standards have evolved considerably. If you are looking to build a successful website, you may find yourself hiring a team rather than a single person, and you may work with them extensively to support your evolving vision.
In order to hire and keep a perfect team, you need to know your vision. For this purpose, we recommend design style guides.
Think of the style you want to apply, then compare it to traditional designs for your product or service. Opposing “classic” rules is a two-way street; you can either deter users with a kitschy product, or break the monotony and create new standards.
Yes, it sounds (and it looks) challenging. To start, we advise you to keep design consistent with your expertise and professional objectives. Once you can guarantee functionality, think about appearances, and make the style visually attractive.
Keep the team on the same page—explain exactly what you expect from each page/item, and document it in a nicely wrapped style guide.
What is a style guide?
A style guide is a set of previously designed elements, principles, and graphics that explain the workflow expected from designers. You can opt for items you like, allowing designers to create combinations. Alternatively, you can take a cohesive approach and choose items based on consistency.
Cohesion is one of the most important features of style guides. Every brand expects its designers to highlight its positive traits, in both aesthetic and function.
A website style guide should also replicate a brand’s feel. Users like familiar sceneries, and they will certainly trust a brand which maintains the same identity in every occasion.
In reality, a style guide is a single document (perhaps even a single page) which lists the specific and visual references of one brand, or the requirements for a new online identity. Therefore, a style guide allows designers to create beautiful and functional styles for users.
The importance of style guides
If you have multiple designers, they must forget individual preferences and instead coordinate their tasks according to your expectations. The more you define those expectations, the less room there is for error.
Furthermore, clear instructions decrease the risk of making serious mistakes when coding elements and evaluating future performance.
Style guides in web design
Let us share a few tricks for beginners:
- Write an overview of your company’s activities
- Explain the purpose for making a website
- List the existing elements you’d like to see included (logos, fonts, images, colors, etc).
- Give precise instructions for photos and imagery
- Add every piece of information you think could be relevant
Start with the brand
Designers must familiarize themselves with the history of your brand and its mission. In fact, you should have the clearest perception of your brand. (After all, it’s your project.) This clarity will allow you to choose designers who understand your mission and creative values.
Learn to compromise
Dealing with fickle clients can be a huge challenge for designers. A client may veto a perfectly good design, completely due to personal preference. What’s worse, a designer’s final product may reflect a client’s preference rather than the brand.
The knife, however, has two blades; sometimes, clients hire fickle designers who fail to listen to instruction or feedback. As a result, they produce brave and portentous websites, which may be original but have nothing to do with the brand.
In order to avoid this mess, try to compromise from the very beginning.
Believe it or not, designers often overlook the importance of typography, meaning they are missing out on huge design potential.
Create your own typographic hierarchy. Start with the basic headline; list all potential fonts. Be precise on size and style, and make sure you’ve mentioned every color variation. This will allow a clear path for your team to follow.
Use color with intention
As you know, colors are not just a visual aspect of design, but they are also a tool used to influence emotion and perception.
List the colors you want, then choose the dominant one. We don’t recommend more than three basic colors. If you believe there is a specific feature that needs to be hidden or highlighted, consider secondary colors.
Finally, don’t forget neutral tones (white, black, gray), as these tones may even work beautifully as your core color scheme.
Reconsider every element that you want to use and decide whether you really need it. Too many elements and unnecessary information could confuse visitors, and this could affect their overall experience.
Icons are the oldest visual language, with a longer history than textual descriptions. Perhaps due to their extensive history and evolution, icons are still a huge part of our daily lives.
In fact, icons allow users to digest information quickly and efficiently. Beautiful and well-executed icons allow for visually stimulating knowledge intake.
Choose intuitive icons that can be associated with the characteristics of your audience (tradition, history, culture, religion, etc). Do detailed research and make sure there will be no misconceptions. All images, even icons, should be easy to see and understand.
Remember, you are a team player
You need to help your designers understand your content. In the case of style guides, functionality and creativity make a perfect couple; so, you might consider additional explanations or animated messages.
Use strong images
A picture is worth 1000 words. Be picky and brave; include quality images that work in the service of your brand’s values. For instance, if you’re running a charity organization, use pictures of your beneficiaries to invoke an emotional response in your user. Your company should make people feel good.
Examine your work
Check the guide multiple times before you submit your request. Designers will not appreciate grammar mistakes or unclear messaging. A proper guide is a way to show the team you really care about your work and theirs.
Pick the right forms
The forms you use can directly affect your site. Experience shows us users prefer standardized forms when performing actions.
Remember, hierarchy doesn’t exclusively apply to typography. You need to introduce hierarchy wherever possible. Taking this additional step will allow designers to alert you to potential mistakes (i.e. weak passwords, invalid messages, overlapping, etc).
Get creative with creativity
Projects that are “too creative” don’t always get traction, as artistic choices can be very polarizing. Additionally, creative designs often leave room for interpretation, and in a space where efficiency is key, room for interpretation can be counterproductive.
However, efficiency doesn’t always mean sacrificing creativity. In fact, you can create your own catchy templates and showcase them in the style guide. Use your style guide as an opportunity to try new things and organize in new ways.
Designing a style guide must begin with a detailed study on your brand’s personality—make sure you have a full understanding and a clear vision of your long-term objectives.
Think about the elements you do/don’t have, and list the specifications of how you want your website to look. Once you have done the legwork, consider hiring a team. A team will help you advance your goals when you can’t do it alone.
With a proper style guide, your design team can immediately begin working, without spending excessive time looking for explanations or game plans. Even still, communicate with your team. If everyone is on the same page, the product has a greater chance for success.