Guided by style

Andrea Drugay
Oct 7, 2019 · 11 min read

A style guide is a living project that requires regular care and maintenance. Care for it well, and it will provide for you in return.

How we keep our content style guide current and use-worthy at Dropbox

A brand is more than a logo. People interested in your product experience the full spectrum of your brand, from billboard ads to payment flows and everything between. Your company’s writing helps people to connect with your product, trust what you deliver, and keep using it.

Example of a style guide home page

How do you maintain a content style guide?

The goal of this post isn’t to tell you how to develop your company’s voice and tone, or how to create your first style guide. There are many articles, courses, and trainings online and off that can help you in those areas.

  • What’s the process for governance, decision-making, and updates?
  • How do I get people to actually use it once I have a governance process in place?
  • We take care of a few easy decisions, and start (or continue, or complete) conversations about harder decisions.
  • After we’ve made decisions, we update the style guide and socialize the updates.

Process and governance for the Dropbox internal content style guide

Feedback doc

Example of a feedback doc
  • What’s the official name of that new feature?
  • How do we abbreviate this?
  • Do we use decimals in prices?
  • What’s our standing on this particular phrase?
  • Do we have guidelines in place for X, Y, or Z?
  • My team is asking the same style or writing questions over and over again. Can I point them to an answer?

Who makes the decisions?

The Style Council

  • Product Marketing
  • Brand Marketing
  • CX Customer Education
  • SEO
  • Security Operations
  • Intellectual Property
  • Design Research
  • … and a few others
  • the marketing goals of your company
  • and the overall business goals

Our decision process at Dropbox

Review and assign

  • Does this entry affect people using the product, people reading the blog, people we’re marketing to…?
Example of a shared listing update
Example of a quarterly update announcement

Keeping the fire going

So you’ve created your content style guide, developed a steering committee, and determined a rhythm for making updates. The important next step is to keep people aware of the style guide so they actually use it.

  • Slack channels or similar messaging forums
  • Monthly Lunch and Learns
  • Style guide roadshows or presentations for specific teams or the entire company
  • Link to the style guide in your email signature or add it to your Slack profile
  • Extremely helpful content!
  • Love the ongoing awareness of resources available to designers for making quick copy decisions
Example of a style guide governance checklist

Dropbox Design

We believe joy is the engine that powers the best ideas. We’re designing a more enlightened of working, so you can love the way you work. More on dropbox.design.

Andrea Drugay

Written by

Writer and editor in SF. UX Writing manager @Dropbox. Lover of all things healthy and wise. Sign up for my newsletter: https://tinyletter.com/andreadrugay

Dropbox Design

We believe joy is the engine that powers the best ideas. We’re designing a more enlightened of working, so you can love the way you work. More on dropbox.design.

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