On average, design alert businesses increase their market share by 6.3% through using design.
We as the UX and UI Design unit at SMS digital GmbH believe that innovation and holistic design methods can only take effect when the foundation has been thoroughly researched and built on established conventions. Being committed to providing the best human-centered design to our customers and the users of our solutions at any time, we develop digital innovations and set new standards.
In today’s world, the method of design has the mission to streamline business goals and needs with an excellent customer journey. At any time, the expectations and experiences of the user group must be implemented in every sequence of a service or product. Any disregard for the needs of user groups results in their frustration in the short term, while, in the long term, they will end up refusing to use the respective services and products. Every company must be aware of its responsibility for the user experience of its user groups. For software companies in particular, in addition to the user experience, great diligence must be applied to the strategic development of the user interface as the visual experience touchpoint to the user group. In order to make the right business decisions, it is essential to know and apply industry standards in user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design.
In general, we at SMS digital share our UX and UI design standards on a self-hosted digital information platform called »Design System«. This is where we officially publish all standardizations in UX and UI design and make them accessible online for every business unit in the company. Through standardization, parameters for recognition in UX and UI design are documented, communicated, noticed and maintained. This article, »Today’s parameters for recognition in UX and UI design for software solutions«, is based on our ongoing style guide research.
The style guide content is categorized into five sections:
- Brand and content guidelines
- Foundation – UI and UX design guidelines
The brand guidelines describe how to use our logo and brand colors and explain our brand values in general. Our brand voice and tone build the foundation for our content guidelines, which describe the rules for grammar and mechanics, actionable language and writing style.
Our UI design guidelines contain basic specifications, such as layout and color management as well as information on typography, iconography, movement and visual language. In the history of communication design, these aspects used to be covered by a company’s corporate design rules. Today, this classification is less strict: Services and products no longer need to be subjected to the same design principles as the company itself. This gives the responsible teams more freedom to meet user expectations in UX and UI design. Design principles are necessary to define the specifications for user interface components and patterns. With conceptual principles, holistic UX and UI design is ensured.
User experience guidelines are research-based policies that strive for the best possible user experience and ensure consistent user flows across all touchpoints. For this purpose, the user group is clearly identified. Through a streamlined concept that includes physical, digital and service design, the guidelines positively influence the perception by the user group. This sustainably increases business success. The objective is not only to enable the user group to reach their goal quickly and smoothly, but – depending on the application area – also for them to experience positive feelings or even fun and enjoyment during use.
User interface components are visual objects that are composed using design principles. They are used iteratively within a user interface and ensure a holistic look and feel across all applications. The components are defined and documented in a digital component library and stored as a file. Here, general information for all defined components on usage, style and accessibility can be viewed in detail. Having all required information centrally stored enables fast development at reduced costs.
User interface patterns are established and tested solutions for frequently recurring scenarios, such as a login screen. They are composed using design principles and user interface components. The defined user interface patterns provide a holistic user experience across all applications. They are documented in a digital handbook and stored as a file with a description. The description includes information about anatomy, specifications, variants, structure and spacing as well as quick links to the included code snippets. Correct storage and documentation of information enables fast development at reduced costs.
Under Resources, all kinds of supported tools, files and information are shared that enable holistic UX and UI design across all devices. Resources are accessible after registration. At SMS digital, we store our design kits as Sketch and Axure files. Files such as the company logo can be found here, too. This approach ensures global access as single source of truth and thus supports a fast UX and UI design process. Our development teams also have access to our icons library to ensure that everyone works with the same icon kit. Thus, processes are once again simplified and accelerated while costs are reduced.
Our work on the style guide never ends, it is a work-in-progress project. We believe that holistic UX and UI design can only be ensured through iterative testing and updating. It will never be completely finished, but will be subject to constant evolution. We are in close contact with our customers and departments to provide the best possible solution for our products, increments and services. To do this, we leave our comfort zone. Only through innovation will we master the challenges.
 Jacobsen, Jens; Meyer, Lorena: Usability and UX (2019). Page 32.
Author: Kathrin Kuska