A website design style guide helps different producers—designers, writers, strategists, and developers—make better decisions when creating, updating, or expanding a website. As a tool that sets the tone and design rules for the user interface (UI), a style guide profoundly affects the user experience (UX). More important, it directs how your website lives and breathes in the world, ensuring that the site meets your business objectives and provides a cohesive user experience across multiple devices.
What a design style guide can do for your website
Designing a website can be a challenging process, particularly when multiple teams are working on the project. A design style guide can help you:
1. Document every specification.
A design style guide is a detailed record of the standards, rules, and core goals for your website’s UI. It covers everything from color palettes and headlines to photography, icons, typography, buttons, and links. The style guide also documents accessibility requirements and any other guidelines you may have.
2. Establish a consistent design.
During the design of your website, a style guide serves as the foundation for the development of everything from primary and tertiary colors to forms, icons, imagery, and hierarchy. Each detail needs to be documented, including the hover, click, and visit states for buttons and links. Documenting every rule and specification helps your team maintain design consistency across all pages and sections, particularly when several designers are working on a large website.
3. Strengthen your brand.
Your website is a key brand touchpoint that represents your organization. Above all else, it should reflect your vision and values. A website design style guide can help protect and build your brand by maintaining a consistent user experience across all platforms, including desktop, tablet, and mobile.
4. Make informed decisions.
Over time, as your website scales to accommodate new audiences, content, functionality, and platforms, your style guide will help the development team make informed design decisions. Even when new designers update your site, the style guide will make sure no one alters the UI based on personal preferences.
5. Protect your UI.
Every element of a website affects the UI. Images, color schemes, typography, and content are all part of the design. Documenting specifications for each element will help you protect the UI and maintain a coherent UX. A website design style guide defines font families and sets rules for headlines, subheads, body copy, and links. If a third party supplies copy for a new page or section, your style guide can help make sure you present the content in a way that’s consistent with your design style and brand.
6. Accommodate changes.
Your UI may need to change as your business grows. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your website design on an ongoing basis and maintain an up-to-date style guide. Like your website, your website design style guide is a living, breathing document that will continue to evolve over time.