I was inspired to write about style guides after seeing a very beautiful one for a current client. As dorky as it might sound, I get incredibly excited about style guides!
Style guides are typically client-generated; however, I have worked for organizations where various departments (e.g. Instructional Design, Programming, Multimedia) contribute to the development of a client’s style guide. They are documented explanations and illustrations of stylistic options that are available for the product in development.
These stylistic options typically include approved logos and branding, colours (and corresponding hex values), appropriate fonts and sizes, and can even be so specific as to dictate the pixel width a highlight box must be or the screen resolution the product must adhere to.
Basically, the style guide dictates how your product should look/feel and is typically developed by the client in an effort to stay ‘on brand’. Other elements can even include the tone of voice used (active vs passive) or grammar preferences.
But why should I be interested in these?
Now, I’m not saying you need to get giddy about a beautifully crafted style guide like I do, but what I am saying is that you probably should inquire as to whether your client has one. Why? Because doing so can save a lot of time and effort spent revising a developed product to adhere to the company’s branding standards. It can be very tedious changing fonts and sizes for large projects…
Another great thing about style guides is that they ensure that all team members (if there are more than just yourself) have the same information and are adhering to the client’s aesthetic requirements. This can yield an incredible cost savings when you consider the effort involved in reprogramming interactive pieces or re-developing multimedia assets.
Style guides also save you tons of time and guess work! The projects I’ve worked on that had prescribed style guides had a lot less back and forth stylistic revisions than those without. While designing different layouts and using different typography may be your jam, clients may feel like you failed to read their mind with regarding to determining their brand’s vibe. No one wants you to miss the mark!
Here are some handy resources: