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Developers, designers and web administrators are always looking for ways to improve how they manage the look, feel and complexity when building a web site. This can be difficult when we have multiple team members or new members involved in ongoing projects. So how can we help maintain global branding and development patterns for sites that all users can utilize? Style guides.
What is a style guide?
A style guide is a document of code standards that details the various elements and patterns of a site or application. It is a one-stop place to see all visual styles of the site such as headers, links, buttons, color pallets and any visual language that is used on the site.
Check out a few of the other style guides below published by some great brands.
Why should you use a style guide?
Style guides take extra time to develop up front but we have found that they have numerous beneficial factors for developing.
- Faster build time for new sections and pages.
- Design consistency is easier to maintain
- Designers, developers and content owners have a one-stop guide to reference.
- New team members joining the project can refer to the guide for the exact style use.
- Keeps both code and design consistent throughout the site.
- The guide allows us to standardize our code (CSS, JS, HTML), keeping it small and quick to load.
Steps to building a style guide?
Start your guide with the sites foundations. These will include elements like color palette, fonts, headers, body text and grid layouts. These basic elements are the foundation global elements of your site that set the tone for your style guide.
Next start adding in your site patterns. These would include buttons, logos, images, icon library, form styles, etc. Any element that belongs on your site should be included.
Documentation is essential to make a style guide successful. Your documentation is the key to keeping a consistent style and development pattern throughout the site. Documentation can be done in the code itself with comments or using interactive modals or tool tips in the style guide.
After completing the base code you can start integrating it into your CMS system. Not only can we use a style guide for visual and front end documentation but also for how the content functions within your CMS.
The following elements can be added to help guide developers in with the site setup:
- Template regions such as header, footer, navigation, widgets and dynamic feeds for news/events.
- Build out full examples of your data definition regions. See example below of Cascade Server data definition containing all site content input areas.
Using the guide
So you have completed building your style guide. Now what? The first step is talking to your team about how to use the guide and what updates should continue to be made during projects to it. As new member join your team reference the guide as a way to introduce them to your site styles and code languages. Utilize the style guide when testing new code or modules on your site or just as a way to present new design elements to the team. The possibilities are endless.
Your style guide will never be complete and should continue to evolve as your site does.