Style guides


Style guides are used to provide a consistent look and feel. They should be defined as part of usability requirements and conformance should be monitored during development.


  • Style guides embody good practice in interface design.
  • Following a style guide will increase the consistency between screens.
  • Using a style guide can reduce the development time.
  • Following general usability guidelines will improve the quality of the interface.


  1. For a Graphical User Interface (GUI) such as Windows, develop and adhere to a GUI style guide based on good GUI design principles:
    Microsoft Windows User Experience. Microsoft Press, 1999. [Official Microsoft guidelines for creating well-designed, visually and functionally consistent user interfaces, also available on the web.]
  2. GUI Design Handbook by Susan Fowler. McGraw Hill. About

    >Face: The Essentials of User Interface Designby Alan Cooper. IDG Books

    GUI Design for Dummies by Laura Arlov. IDG Books

  3. For web pages, develop and adhere to a style guide based on good web design principles:
    Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen. New Riders. 1999.
  4. Web Site Usability by Jared Spool, Terri DeAngelo, Tara Scanlon, Will Schroeder, Carolyn Snyder. Morgan Kaufmann, 1998.

  5. Developers should also be familiar with and apply general user interface guidelines, for example see the guidelines in the RESPECT Handbook
  6. Someone familiar with the style guides and usability guidelines should review the user interfaces to check for conformity with the guidelines. Although style guides can speed development by simplifying detailed design, developers are often reluctant to use a style guide unless compliance is enforced.


A more consistent look and feel, and a list of any deviations from the style guide.

Next steps

Evaluate early working prototypes.

Case studies

Background reading

List of User Interface Design Style Guides

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