Some Thoughts on Digital Style Guides


I just finished this article which talks about the utility of digital style guides for medium to larger size organizations . It got me thinking.

The article documents the author’s involvement with the creation of a style guide which assisted in managing the digital assets of a larger website, whose creative team included designers, editors and codewriters. It’s the sort of piece which advocates for something which is somewhat inarguable. A style guide creates a common language and repository of standards which enables the far-flung field of team members to refer and update commonly used. It’s a pretty useful foundation document.

In reading it, though, I also noticed how this application of a pretty Old School idea (‘style guides,’ after all, are nothing new but derive from a print-centric earlier era…) evolve in the era of the modern web.

In the article, the writer notes that the utility of the Style Guide lies not only in the facilitating communication amongst teams of people but also in its ability to keep track of the iterative changes in style and use that are typical of websites and mobile apps today. For instance, she outlines a method whereby the guide and the website are using shared CSS libraries, so that – when conventions change – both are updated simultaneously. This makes it much easier to keep the style guide up to date.

It quickly became apparent that, in her advocacy of a traditional working method, the author is also recommending a process which recognizes a defining and decidedly modern feature of the web today: it’s predilection for continual change.

The article, again, is here.


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