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Style Guides: Lean Design for a Lean Startup

Lean Startup Style Guide

Style Guides: Lean Design for a Lean Startup

From the moment your startup is presented on the web, design starts mattering. It is the thing that may fascinate, attract or confuse people – be depending on how well it is implemented. Your application is going to be estimated in a twinkle of an eye, that’s why a smart and good-looking website is so important for any startup.

You may inspire by looking designers’ portfolios at dribbble.com community and find a person

who will create a great site for you. However, any flight of fantasy needs consistency. Harmonize all yummy design ideas in one manual. Such manuals are usually called Style guides – a compilation of instructions on how your brand should be presented. The larger number of people is working on your startup, the more important is to create style guides for smart regulation. Each member of the company adheres to the rules, described in it.

This document may consist of one to several hundred pages, depending on the company’s scale.

Startuppers are lucky to make it laconic and simple, as distinct from large companies. Freshmen are able to apply lean methodology to the most. The simpler and more comprehensible the style guides are – the better. Ideally is to start developing the style guides right at the beginning of developing process, when you opt for specific logo and color scheme for your site or application.

OK, what to include in style guides? Methodized information about the following:

Logo – Shape, size, color and placement of your brand identity sign. Think whether some colors should be adjusted in case the background is changed.

Color Scheme – A set of colors that are most often used to create an identity of an app. Consider which color would be used for “success” and “fail’ messages on your site.

Fonts – List of font styles and instructions as for when to use them. Here you may also define icon you are going to use.

Form elements – Specify the styles for all form elements. Provide examples of fields and buttons of all types that would be present on the site (info, submit ones etc.)

Images – Customized styles and designs of photos that support your brand. Decide whether you will use photos, illustrations or both. Would they be black and white only? Would icons be round or square? Think about that.

Style of writing and voice – In this sector of your style guides you may specify in which tone company-related communication should be conducted. Should it be formal or casual, simplified or technical? It concerns communication in social media as well.

You may use many tools for the creation of your style guides. The simplest solution is to create Pdf or Word file. Google Docs are also very handy for that since it would be easy for all team members to access it. If you would like to try something more sophisticated, use http://www.sketchapp.com/, where you will find shared Symbols and Styles. Also, if existing CSS are not enough for you, you may use http://demo.patternlab.io/ for generation of unique design of your application.

Since we are creating style guides for startup design basing on principles of Lean methodology, the document itself should be simple and cost-effective, while being maximally informative and helpful.  If it is consuming too many resources on creation and maintenance, it means it should be reconsidered. People should be able to update and access it easily. True Lean style guides build a bridge between the customers and the brand. Consistency is the most important rule for branding – be it provision of your products, communication or visual representation of your identity. These characteristics will help your brand be more recognizable and strong, as well as to reflect philosophy of your company.

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Valeriia Timokhina is a blog editor and IT manager at Eastern Peak, a top-ranked custom software development company.