If you’ve ever wondered how the designers at Apple defined every little bit of iOS as they built it, then you’ve come to the right place.
As technology is constantly changing, web design continues to formalize. Web designers and developers need to create code that can translate seamlessly from PC to mobile devices, make site navigation easier to understand, and innovate other site features – these are all things that companies are standardizing in digital style guides.
Digital style guides have become more useful for the overall image and memorability of a brand on the web, as they set expectations and standards for corporate web display. They are especially important for websites and products that need to produce top-notch user experiences.
In this article, we’ll dive into the details of digital style guides and show you some awesome examples of famous companies that have done them well.
What is a Web Design Style Guide?
A web design style guide – also known as a digital style guide – is a resource where a brand collects and stores all of its website design elements and rules. It includes graphics, typography, color scheme, and general formatting that developers can review and follow for a cohesive website composition.
This type of style guide should be treated as a manual that sets design standards for a company’s digital presence. Its main focus is to create a universal design style for the brand and ensure consistency across all channels and mediums, where you establish your logo, color palette, typography, imagery guidelines, and more.
Unlike brand style guides that encapsulate a company’s logo, mission statement, buyer personas, and tone of voice, web design style guides focus on digital presentation like UX /UI.
But, as a UX designer myself, I’ve always been curious, what can you find in digital style guides from influential companies like Apple, Google, and Starbucks?
Believe it or not, many companies make this information publicly available – they just don’t make it very easy to find. So whenever I come across one, I bookmark it. Here are some of the best I’ve found so far.
Examples of Awesome Digital Style Guides
Apple’s style guide is particularly interesting because it details how to design a complete operating system. Monterey, one of the latest versions of OS X from Apple, has a more streamlined user interface than its predecessor, Yosemite. Apple demonstrates this subtle but palpable distinction with some very nice graphical comparisons, then goes on to explain the rationale behind every aspect of the operating system’s design. It gives you a window into the minds of designers.
2. Google: material design
Google pioneered a style of design called Material Design, which exists as a hybrid between skeuomorphic design (gradients, textures, glowing elements) and flat design (simple, colorful, geometric). In doing so, they combined the advantages associated with each design style, while avoiding the disadvantages.
Because Google has been practicing Material Design for a few years now, you’ve probably interacted with it on a daily basis – the Google Calendar app, anyone? This style guide details exactly what Material Design is and how Google uses it. And I have to say, this is by far one of the best style guides I’ve ever come across.
This is one of the most minimalistic style guides I’ve seen – and yet it contains a ton of useful information. It has a strong focus on code and you can tell it was built by developers, for developers. It lacks branding elements, so it distinguishes between a website style guide and a code library.
The suite of products that Atlassian designs for is gigantic – so, naturally, they have a gigantic style guide. From fundamentals (like the color palette and typography) to components (like tables and tooltips) to an extensive template library, this guide has just about everything you’d expect from a product of this size. .
Even better, the whole style guide’s rationale is summed up in three deceptively simple terms on the homepage.
This digital style guide is primarily about branding and communications. But with Mozilla recently taking a “privacy and open web” approach, it’s cool to see how they reflect that in their design.
Mozilla’s homepage also does a great job of outlining how its UX/UI is meant to be accessible to people with visual impairments or disabilities – something inclusive and necessary as technology becomes more innovative.
Buffer’s style guide is small and concise, ranging from grid to modals in one place. It’s a friendly reminder that your digital style guide doesn’t have to be flashy if it communicates all the good points. Businesses looking for a starting point can take notes from Buffer’s simplistic style guide components and create their own from there.
If you’re looking for a solid example of a website style guide, Yelp has it covered. Not only is it comprehensive, but it explains its Atomic Design System like a cookbook and breaks down the site’s elements into contributing ingredients to a dish.
This thing has it all: typography, layout, forms, containers, navigation, and code snippets for each element. They do a great job of explaining what each item is, where it should be used, and how it should be implemented.
The English government services website has been widely praised as an excellent example of a high quality user experience. Why? Because it boasts a simple, easy-to-use design that accommodates excessive amounts of information.
If you’re interested in what constitutes a truly clean and effective design (hint: it usually starts with strong use of color, typography and spacing), then GOV.UK’s style guide is well worth checking out. to be examined closely. Just like the site, it is very simple but very informative.
The new DeviantArt Style Guide is unique because it’s more than just a guide – it’s an experience. It tells a story and relies on bold, full-width visuals to immerse the user in the emotional experience of the DeviantArt brand. That being said, this is strictly a brand style guide, so only things like color and typography are covered.
Color, icons, typography, and logo…Disqus keeps it short and sweet with this guide. But everything is presented in a very nice and organized way. This guide could be used as a great example of “where to start” when creating your own style guide, as it touches on all the fundamentals.
Feeling inspired to create your own guide?
Now it’s your turn. By leveraging a digital style guide in your business, you can communicate your brand’s design language to in-house designers, agencies, advertising partners, and even clients.
Start with the basic building blocks (color, typography, logo, images), add some usage guidelines (“do’s and don’ts”), and even embed web components if needed (modules, templates, code snippets ). Use examples from other companies to learn from the best. Your team will be creating cohesive designs in no time.
Originally posted Mar 21, 2022 at 7:00:00 AM, updated Mar 21, 2022
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