When developing a website, it’s essential for all collaborators to use the same visual language to create a consistent and cohesive product for the end user. Since website development projects can be complicated, designers, developers, and even stakeholders to pitch in at the same time.
Over the course of the website’s development, a revolving door of new standards and technologies can require intense modifications. This makes it difficult for all collaborators to stay on the same page regarding the website’s design.
To keep everyone aligned during a website development project, it’s critical to create a web design style guide. This can help improve productivity and efficiency during a project.
Below, you’ll learn how to create a web design style guide for your project to maintain brand consistency.
A web design (or web redesign) style guide is a reference for collaborators creating a website. It entails the spacing, typography, color scheme, icons, imagery, and even the visual language that will be present on your website.
It’s important to note that a web design style guide is much different than a design system. In a design system, creators will strive to define every element and principle involved in the project for all phases.
On the contrary, a web design style guide is a reference to model a brand’s voice and image. A web design style guide expands on the most important website components. When you seek to develop a web design style guide, you’re planning on defining the most important characteristics in the project, possibly with the goal of producing a design system at a later date.
Websites are comprehensive projects. Whether you’re designing a four-page website or a multi-page online store, you can expect numerous developers, graphic designers, project managers, and copywriters to handle all of the production.
Stakeholders and clients will also run through the production to ensure that all work is satisfactory and representative of the project’s objectives and expectations. As such, many different collaborators will work on the same project.
With various agendas and MOs, it can be easy to get sidetracked, ignore core objectives, and become indifferent to the wishes of the client and stakeholders. With that said, it’s never been more important to develop a website design template style guide.
This style guide can help all collaborators stay on the same page. This can result in meeting all client objectives, elevating customer satisfaction, and increasing the probability of customer referrals.
The importance of creating a website design template style guide is clear. If you’re still not convinced that creating this style guide is in your best interest, here are additional benefits that will reward your organization and improve the efficiency of your website development project:
Now that you fully understand what a website design template is, why it’s important, and all the benefits for having one, it’s time to learn how to create one for your business. Below, you’ll go through 11 steps to create a comprehensive style guide for both current and future website development projects.
The first step in creating a website design template is getting familiar with what your brand is and who your target audience consists of. The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the main values your brand holds dear.
Also, you’ll need to translate these values into a universal language by collecting meaningful brand components and assets that define the purpose of your brand. Modern businesses are much more than faceless profiters who take their customers’ money.
They’re supposed to have ideals that potential customers can align with. Take for example, Uber, who list all their values on their website:
Developers fully understand the importance of conveying a brand’s values, mission statement, and ideals through design, visuals, and copy. For this reason, it’s important to integrate a brand’s values and mission in the website design template style guide for reference.
Your logo is the single-most important and recognizable aspect of your brand. If even a few components are incorrect, you could be diluting your presence on your own website, the press, and in the minds of potential customers.
For example, you would never see a yellow Coca-Cola symbol. Most people associate the brand with its trademark white and red colors. Thus, the next step in creating your style guide is defining the principles of your logo’s usage.
If there is a graphic designer on your term, it’s best to consult with them regarding the parameters of the brand’s logo that may already exist. These could include your logo’s:
If you’re able, make sure you also include the do’s and dont’s if your logo will be used by any third parties or affiliates.
Again, color plays an integral role in how potential customers will remember and perceive your brand. Therefore, you should list all primary colors your brand uses. It’s recommended to use a maximum of three primary colors in your style guide.
Once you define a maximum of three primary colors, you should also pick tertiary, secondary, and neutral colors for your brand if they apply:
In addition to presenting all of these colors in your style guide in their physical value, you should include the technical aspects, which include the Hex number equivalents and RBG.
These numbers are important because there are several different variations of typical colors like blue, green, and red. Listing both the physical and technical aspects of your brand’s colors can help developers ultimately create a website that resembles the client’s business.
To be successful in this area, it’s recommended that you understand Color Theory, especially if you don’t have a graphic designer on your team.
Typography, like color, is also an integral part of a brand’s identity. To make sure that your website aligns with the typography that’s usually found on the logo and is consistent throughout, you should create a hierarchy in your style guide.
First, you’ll need to develop what is known as a font family hierarchy that includes all major headings, H1-H6:
In addition to listing the headings in the style guide, you should also include font styles for alert messages, forms, and body text. These styles should include basic fonts and sizes, which include examples such as Calibri, Arial, Roboto, and more.
Font sizes should always be written in their pixel (px) format. These formats should remain consistent in your style guide and all other elements on your website. It’s also recommended to use progressive sizes, like 14px, 16px, 18px, and so on.
Odd numbers, or intermediate sizes, like 15px can be difficult to model consistently on a website.
Another critical component of your style guide will be the spacing, layout, and grid rules, most of which will be applied using CSS and HTML. These rules will determine how each website page is structured.
To begin, first create some basic templates for your primary layouts:
Implementing this information into your style guide will make it much easier to add new pages to your website and expand it in the future.
Believe it or not – iconography is an essential component of your brand’s style. As such, you’ll need to include some basic principles when icons are used on your website. Making this decision includes:
Just like with your fonts, make sure you define the main icon sizes to maintain consistency throughout the website. It’s also important to remember that procedures used to create the icons and icon grids should be detailed in the style guide.
If you want to add more charisma and charm to your website, you might add custom illustrations. This can give uniqueness to your website and help it stand out over your competitors.
If you do decide to use them, make sure that their color and style references are listed inside:
You should also be mindful to include strict principles regarding the types of images, illustrations, and imagery to use on your website, as well as do’s and dont’s for using stock images:
To make sure that the images on your website are consistent, you should include guidelines for editing them, such as filters, contrast, brightness, backgrounds, and more. The overall tone and message of your visuals is also essential.
Are you inclined to use real, candid visuals opposed to overly-edited ones? Do you prefer certain filters over others? Keep in mind that your target audience’s preferences should play a role in your decision.
After all your primary brand styles have been listed in your style guide, you should begin listing your website’s main style considerations, such as:
If you want to take things further with button styles, you may want to include various states, such as focused, active, or hover.
A comprehensive style guide will need to include the voice that will be represented in all visuals and copy. It’s best to consult with copywriters and marketers to determine the next best step in compiling a brand’s voice, in addition to the client:
The brand’s voice or tone is how the client will address a standard client. It’s best to get this information correct and consistent throughout the website.
Overall, the style guide will feature droves of in-depth information about a brand. Making this information concise in particular do’s and dont’s can aid reliability and ensure that the style guide is followed correctly.
In addition, you can show examples of how each style is to be used for clarification purposes.
If you’re planning on distributing the style guide to multiple collaborators, you should also make sure that other assets can be easily shared. This includes the:
Lastly, make sure that the style guide is stored in a PDF format.
Creating a website design template style guide is the precursor for any development project. If you are considering building a new website and need help in this department, you’ve come to the right place.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can develop an award-winning website for your brand.
Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations–delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.