What Is A Style Guide?
A style guide specifies a set of design elements that help to visually communicate how a website is put together. These design elements may include your logo, images, typography, and color palette. You might also include other elements that you feel are important to your core design. Style guides also help maintain a level of visual consistency for a website.
Facebook and Twitter use “branding guidelines” to ensure their brand is recognizable across the web. There are thousands of different Facebook and Twitter social media icons. It’s understandable why these social media giants need branding guidelines. Not in case your brand gets huge, but to make it recognizable despite any changes it might face over the years. Facebook and Twitter logos are recognizable despite the many variations of them across the web.
Why Should You Use A Style Guide?
There are many reasons why you should create a style guide for your website:
- Communication – Presenting a style guide to clients is an easy way to visually communicate the look and feel of a website. It also looks professional.
- Consistency – Consistent design throughout a website provides a great user experience for visitors. It helps create familiarity and is pleasing to the eye.
- Faster Development Process – Having a style guide will speed up the development process. All colors, typography, and other guidelines will be in this document. This makes it easy when coding the website since there is something you and/or your developers can refer to.
Your Style Guide Must-Haves
There are a few things that web design style guides should definitely include. Here’s a list of some elements to include in your style guide:
1. Defined Target Audience
Specifying your target audience will help you during your design process. Let’s say you’re creating a website that sells toys for children. You’ll want to create a website that looks fun and happy by using a bright color palette. This alone gave us a guideline on the audience and how we should style our website. Once you know who your target audience, it’s so much easier to select your colors, fonts, and images.
2. Your Logo
This is the most important element to include in your style guide. Your logo is your identity and if it’s good, your logo is what helps you stand out from the crowd. Think of how you would like someone else to use your logo. Would you want them to change the colors or fonts on your logo if they could? Perhaps you only want them to scale your logo down to a certain size. Ask yourself these questions when creating your style guide. This your chance to be super picky and make strict or flexible specifications. Furthermore, if you want some logo inspiration, check out LogoDesignLove–it’s a great site.
3. Your Fonts
Typography is such a huge component of Web Design. It can turn a boring, eye-sore of a website into a beautiful one. When designing your style guide, be sure to include fonts for:
- Headings – this is the font used as the titles or articles on your website
- Subheadings – just like in this article (after the main heading), subheadings are smaller versions of the main heading font
- Body Text – this is the many lines of text found on your website pages, articles, blog posts etc. Choose a font that goes well with your headings and subheadings font
If you’re not sure what fonts you would like to use, I would suggest using Google Fonts. You can choose and compare different fonts. It’s a great tool that I enjoy using for my design projects.
4. Your Color Palette
Having a color pallet maintains a high level of consistency for your website. I suggest choosing 2-4 colors that you’ll use for your images and text. If you’re having trouble choosing a color palette, you’re going to love COLORLovers. I use it whenever I’m indecisive about colors. Once you’ve found a color palette for your website, use it and stick with it. Also, be sure to also include the correct Hex codes and CMYK values for print in your style guide.
5. Relevant Images
Once you’ve made specifications for your other elements, you can also specify how you style your website images. For my blog, the images that I use as my “featured images” are part of XO PIXEL’s style guide. They have a specific look so that my readers know it’s from XO PIXEL. As you can see, even though the background images change, the main title card that’s placed on top doesn’t change.