Style Guides That Connect Product Design Teams

Claire Wu, 7 months ago

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I hung up the phone and thought “marvelous...”. This guy thinks the way I cook. Slice whatever I can find from the fridge, mix up them in a pot and sprinkle some salt in the end. If you treat your brand the way I cook, then you are in for one messed up, disappointing journey.

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It seems like everyone knows what the design style guide means for certain levels. The hesitation from people is why we need one. I’d love to share a folder of stories about our experience working without a style guide. Whether you’re a startup or agency, you may need one.

There’s also a folder of benefits you can gain by having a design style guide: avoid having a designer try to find a button through a humongous number of files.  



First and the most important part of the reality, your company will likely use more than one designer in its lifetime. New employees, new agencies, and new team members will join the company. Obviously everyone needs to understand what is going on with your product. It requires time and effort to train. Having a properly branded style guide, even it’s a single page overview including colors, typography, imagery and some website elements, helps the designers get started. Apparently it doesn’t matter having everything stored in a Dropbox folder, but do you really want to see people waste hours and days to hunt for the “treasure box”?

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To empathize with the massive amount of work for developers, it’ll be helpful to give them a more precise scale of the work. By providing them a design style guide, it can prevent last minute panic. After delivering specs to developers, they are able to accomplish any new layout in time based on the pre-built sample code from the style guide.


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Identify Your Brand Voice

To start a new project, designers put their thoughts into the product overtime. It helps your product stands out among other competitors while keeping your voice heard in the market as well, especially when you’ve built brand awareness among your customers. The style guide will show a clear protocol of how the brand should look on multiple platforms. Meanwhile, it’ll provide flexibility for designers to be creative but rigid enough to keep the brand recognizable. Continuity is the key, especially if you need the brand to breath and extend for a long term.

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Release Growing Pains

It’s common to expand the size of your company. Once the company is growing, it’ll require a better cooperation among people in charge of different roles and departments. Have you ever gone back and forth with a designer too many times to try to define the perfect color for your product? Have you ever received totally irrelevant styles of logo from different departments, even though all of them refer to the same brand? Did that eat into your budget? All those will affect your customers’ perspective and loyalty toward your company. It’s easy to ask designer to create a website that matches your imagination of how the company should look like. However, it takes ages to build a cohesive brand identity for customers to remember you. How many time does Coke a Cola change their logo? But how fast they have grown their business? (Except one time, and that’s the only time they changed their logo, but defeated to Pepsi) Design style is playing a significant role to make sure everyone is on the same page.

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These are a few of many reasons why you should need a style guide. Even starting with some basic colors, typography and user interface elements, we have saved  time and money in our company. There is never an end to the style guide, since it will grow  with your company.

Like What you see? We should talk!