Front-end development is often the first to be descoped in an effort to meet deadlines and budgets. But without the right tools and structures in place, reducing the ‘effort’ spent on UI development often ironically leads to more time spent coding. As the project continues the front-end inevitably becomes a burden, with disjointed interfaces that lack in user experience and performance that any application should possess.
So how can we reduce the time spent coding UI without negatively impacting quality? By creating a UI style guide.
Put simply, a UI style guide, often referred to as living style guide, is an HTML page that documents the colours, text, buttons, margins, padding and other components that can be used in an application. HTML and CSS can be referenced and copied from the page and pasted into the code of the application, leaving developers with more time to focus on building logic and business rules.
A UI style guide can take as little as a few days to code depending on the size and phase of your application. Whether your project is in the inception, development or support phase, it’s never too late to build such tool.
By investing some initial effort to develop components and styles into the UI style guide, anyone in the team can have a personalised bootstrap that anyone can pick up, work with and build upon.
A UI style guide improves quality and increases delivery speed by enabling the following benefits:
Easy access to reusable components or styles means that developers no longer have to spend time writing duplicate code for existing components.
Reducing the number of components (and duplication of code) reduces the size of the script, resulting in a faster-performing app.
Components and elements are able to be updated in a central location and automatically reflected across the entire app. This is particularly important in Agile teams that require an evolving interface with frequent changes.
A UI style guide is incredibly powerful to have a holistic view of an application's components and pattern library. It helps developers and designers identify inconsistencies so unnecessary behaviours or design patterns can be merged into one consistent standard.
Increased visibility of components and patterns makes it easier for designers to understand interface constraints and quickly use existing patterns to solve new problems.
Keep an eye out for our next post where we take you through how to create a UI style guide.
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