design principles

Why I love the style guide

Let’s face it, in 2013 has featured in the forefront of many people’s minds as a flag bearer for great design and digital change. Continuing this trend, Thursday last week saw release the next section of its alpha style guide.

If you don’t have a style guide, or you have a fusty old copy in a shared folder no longer in use, or even worse, just a printed copy in a folder, well now is the time to update it and watch standards soar.

This style guide (part of GDS’s seven wider design principles) is still being optimised but now includes sections on ‘writing for’, ‘writing for the web’, ‘style points for various content types’ and a ‘transactions style guide’. 

It’s interesting that realises the style of the guide itself is important. Continuous work on improving navigation and keeping content up to date is as important for the style guide as for the wider site.

If information and guidance isn’t up to date, or the guide is not easily engaged with, errors carried forward will persist. 

Let’s take a look at the new style guide and see why it stands out, as well as what you can appropriate for your own organisation’s style guide. I hope you’ll agree with me, that when a style guide is done well, it’s actually a lot of fun to use, with more prescriptive advice on grammar reading as dead pan as a Stewart Lee gag.

The A-Z of UX design principles from the big tech firms / experts

I was genuinely blown away by the simplicity and usability of the government’s GOV.UK website, when it relaunched last year. The new site was underpinned by 10 design principles, which the web team created to make their websites more consistent and user-friendly.

What are design principles, exactly? I rather like Henk Wijnholds’ description

Design principles describe the experience core values of a product or a service. They should be written in a short and memorable way. As a designer you should know them by heart while doing a project. Good design principles are cross-feature but specific. Therefore we should always try harder than ‘Easy-to-use’. Design principles are non-conflicting.

Many companies – especially tech firms – have their own design principles, and I thought I’d compile some of the best ones in a handy cut-out-and-keep list. I’ve also dropped in a few sage quotes from the great and good in the world of design and user experience.