Style Tiles are about designing a system or guide to style a website rather than full comps and mockups. They really come in handy when talking about Responsive Web Design since it frees the designer from having to think about different layouts (as much, it should already be addressed in the wireframe stage). The designer can then focus on thinking about styling the elements and setting rules for a system that will be followed throughout the rest of the site. I really like the thought that style tiles are for when mood boards are too vague and design comps are too precise. Though, It really makes me think about designing a style guide rather than designing a webpage. Then the developers building the website can follow the guide dictated by these style tiles and make simple future-friendly/object oriented/SMACSS/modular css (or sass/less if you prefer). This also leans towards the late trend of moving more of the web design process into the browser.
Ethan Marcotte refers to static comps during the responsive design process as a “catalog of assumptions” Style Tiles are the perfect complement to that catalog, whether it be in place of comps or to reinforce visual themes. Style Tiles don’t imply dimensions nor device; only that the design will be digital.
In addition to Style Tiles, “Component Style Guides” can help with carrying a particular style through specific functionality without designing full web “pages.” These guides are very helpful for responsive designs across a wide number of devices and for implementing design systems for a CMS platform.
Develop a design system rather than designing fixed-width pages.
via Style Tiles.
I’m constantly excited by the web design industry because as it is such a young field, we are still making up the rules and discovering as a community what process are best. At the same time, the technology driving the field is changing so fast that just when we start to settle into a routine it all gets shook up and flipped on it’s head.
How do you see style tiles benefiting your process? Have you used style tiles in a project?