Design Style Guides to Learn From in 2018

Punit Chawla
Jan 7, 2018 · 6 min read
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A lot of designers often spend hours looking at ‘inspiration’ on Dribbble, Behance and other platforms which showcase designs. Since most of us have a long list of things to do and accomplish in the new year, lets add one more thing to our resolution for 2018 — Explore Design Guidelines.

For all those who don’t know, most popular brands have design or/and brand guidelines which they publicly showcase. These guidelines often contain interesting color ideas, fonts and often some neat tips and tricks which could be of help in your design projects. A popular design guideline is Google’s Material Design guidelines, but we won’t focus on that. ( you’ll know why as you read ahead … )

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My Top 3 Picks

— Duolingo

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Duolingo is one of the best language learning apps in the world. I’ve never attempted to learn a language, but I have friends who have, and they all find the UX ( user experience ) very user friendly and gentle on the eyes. These are two traits you should always want to have in your designs.
To start with, the colors are soft and work well on any screen and are less sophisticated than a lot of other color palettes. The color palette is monochromatic and I feel it’s great for any category of application.

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You thought ‘Rose Gold’ was an interesting name for a color? Duolingo actually names it’s colors after edibles like jelly, raspberry and banana; doesn’t get more interesting than that.
I also particularly like their set of icons which aim to be universally recognizable, work well with their color palette and look welcoming.

Duolingo also has some wise words for creating illustrations:
‘All illustrations are geometric and created with wholes, halves and quarters of four basic shapes. Restraint is shown when applying detail to prevent artwork from appearing noisy at smaller sizes’

Check out Duolingo’s Style guide here:


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Forget Material design, the IBM Design Guideline is the boat you need to board now! I personally thought IBM as a platform of apps and services was ignoring design, until they shook the UX and UI design community with a complete revamp of it’s brand and design standards. In fact, I was so impressed that I even tweeted about it —

They have stuck with a barebone approach to design elements, using recognizable icons and graphics, but much more in sync with current design trends.
This is one company which has understood the importance of good User Experience, as they specifically say —

‘We believe human experiences drive business’

This design standard or language focuses more on connecting apps and services with a common ground rather than just keeping everything uniform. This seems to be a great approach for a big networking and IT company like IBM. Shows how important it is to stick to your roots while growing.

IBM also has an Animation Library which provides developers and designers a guide for animations and transitions; as well as provides resources for both iOS and web. I happen to really like the Bézier curve they’ve used for their animation timing, it’s smooth and responsive at the same time, good going IBM!

Check out IBM’s Style guide here:

The only Series you want to follow on Medium >>>

— BBC ( GEL )

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Much like Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines, BBC also has it’s own design standard or system call GEL or Global Experience Language. BBC is striving for a user centered approach with a consistent approach. They lay down 5 main principles for design, which I feel are key for any designer:

Respect everyone
Create a personalized experience for every individual — whatever their needs, schedule and interests.

Love needs
Design to the needs of your audience. Every innovation has to benefit or delight them.

Everywhere, always
Consider every screen and where, when and why it might be used — from the armchair to the Arctic.

Drive discovery
The journey’s as important as the destination. And if your user veers off in a new, exciting direction along the way, all the better.

Further together
Upcycle existing designs. It’ll give you more time to innovate. And the greater consistency will encourage greater exploration of the BBC, Online.

This design language focuses on information architecture and how it affects the entire UI. You can really learn from

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BBC’s design guidelines are a true example of a barebone design which caters to a vast user base. So using these designs with a project which checks all those checkboxes, is a great idea.

Check out BBC’s Style guide here:

Special Mentions

— Samara by Airbnb

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AirbnbEng has always been on the forefront of bed and breakfast with a unique approach to a traditional system. Airbnb has come up with a design studio called Samara, which focuses on a simple design based on Airbnb’s aim of trusting strangers. A set of actual spaces have been built by Japanese designers and architects which are nothing less than beautiful. There is no set design guideline or brand book, but with careful exploration one can learn a lot about their approach and designs.

Explore more here:

— Microsoft Universal Windows Platform

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With the Microsoft Windows 10 creators update, a lot of fundamental components of their designs changed. They have fixed most of what they did wrong in windows 8. They create depth with acrylic based colors and gradients, parallax motion in animations and a creative set of sounds. What I like most about this style guide is how it sticks to certain standards while being experimental with design. That’s how I like to do my designs.

Check it out here:

Why iOS HIG and Material Design Didn’t make This List

Apple’s iOS HIG (human interface guidelines) and Material Design have been standards in the design industry for a lot of designers and developers. Both of these platforms have grown more mature and have mostly coped with the new design trends and competition as well. However, these guidelines are somewhat overused and designers often just restrict themselves to these standards. Designs look good when they come from experimentation and making mistakes, not by following standards. Also, Apple was criticized a lot in 2017 for not focusing on the little things and making very basic framework mistakes.

I hope you liked my writing, and learned a little too. Support me by and CLAPPING!

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