Join Chris Nodder for an in-depth discussion in this video Why have a style guide?, part of UX Foundations: Style Guides and Design Systems.
- Not everyone in your company has spent four years studying design, another four years studying branding, and then taken specialist courses in typography, color theory, and visual aesthetics. But they are expected to make content that includes all these elements. They're gonna need some help, and the style guide is the thing that provides that help. There are three main reasons to have a style guide. It provides consistency in how you present the organization to the rest of the world.
It's a quick way for new team members to learn how to write and design appropriately for the organization. And it serves as a reference point for discussions, so that it's less likely that people will get into arguments about what color to use or what tone to take. Let's look at each of these in turn. Consistency is useful from a usability perspective because your customers only have to learn how to use your site or app once, and then it's the same every other time they use it. But consistency goes deeper than that.
Visual consistency is important for people's sense of trust. If two parts of your site look different, then visitors may not trust that they're still on your company's pages. For instance, during usability testing, I've seen a lack of visual consistency in the checkout process stop users from completing purchases. Consistency in tone is also important. For instance, if part of your site addresses people in the third person, using terms like customers or members, and in other places it addresses people directly in the first person, saying you, then the change in level of formality can be jarring.
Tone obviously changes across different areas of the site, and in sections that address different audiences. But the tone you use should always be consistent with your brand and communication standards. The style guide also serves as a learning document. When someone new joins the team, or when you hire an agency to develop content for you, the style guide drastically reduces the time it takes them to get up to speed. A good style guide, full of positive and negative examples, quickly helps people understand how and why they should be writing a certain way.
And finally, the style guide can save you time. How many times do meetings get derailed because someone wants the visuals or the text in your content to be different, for no good reason? A style guide sets the boundaries of what's acceptable and prevents executives with bad taste from ruining your site.
- What is a style guide?
- What are design systems?
- Style guide basics
- Style guide components
- Defining your audience and your voice
- Writing a style guide
- Design system basics
- Creating a design system
- Getting people to adopt a design system and style guide