Why every Website needs an online Style Guide

If you’ve ever been on a website project team with multiple designers and developers or if your team has changed mid-project, you’ve probably run into the challenges of keeping everybody on the same page in terms of code and style consistency. As a result, your finished product may look as if it was pieced together by multiple developers. How can you ensure your developers adhere to the same coding standards, and that the code accurately and consistently represents the original design?

That’s where the online style guide comes in.

What is an online style guide?

An online style guide, also referred to as a pattern library or pattern primer, is a visual tool that provides a centralized set of reusable, working front-end code. It consists of general markup used throughout your website as well as reusable code snippets. For example:

  • Color palettes – including text, link, background, etc.
  • Font styles by family – including regular, bold, italic, etc.
  • Headings – h1, h2, h3 etc.
  • Lists
  • Form elements – i.e. inputs, buttons
  • Tables
  • Image sizes
  • Grid layouts
  • Website branding

styleguide

Why do I need it?

An online style guide provides a one-stop shop for your entire project team – designers, developers, and front-enders. This not only take the guesswork out of your site design, it promotes consistency of code between multiple developers and designers, and ultimately ensures a cohesive front-end. And, because the code is reusable and consolidated, you’ll get standardized CSS, reduced size of CSS files, and faster buildout time since you’re providing code examples for developers. As a bonus, you will be able to present your client with a beautiful, concise representation of all their online web elements which they can refer to for future marketing – which will make you look like a pro-active superstar!

How do I get one?

With relatively little up-front work, you can create an online style guide starting with your own standard HTML markup and global stylesheet(s), which can also be reused for future projects. Alternatively, a Google search will reveal loads of online resources, including many open-source examples and online generators which can easily be integrated with your own website:

  • Barebones – an initial style guide and pattern primer
  • Pattern Primer – styled markup from a folder of markup snippets
  • Stylify Me – an online style guide generator for an existing website

Since your style guide shares the same stylesheet as the main website, it’s virtually maintenance free and will always be up-to-date with your latest style updates. Just don’t forget to add any new markup to your style guide! 

Conclusion

An online style guide is a one-stop shop for your entire project team (including your client), ensuring a consistent look and feel across the entire website, and provides a set of standardized, reusable code for your developers.

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