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An Event Apart: Faster Design Decisions with Style Tiles


At An Event Apart – Austin 2013, Samantha Warren shared about her new idea: Style Tiles. Here are my take-aways:

  • Design is art without clients – and in-house designers still have clients
  • Creating 3 fixed-width pixel-perfect Photoshop comps encourages ‘Frankencomps’ – where client will request pieces of each to be put together to make a new comp.
    • There is a better way to go about this, and it is ‘Style Tiles’
  • Mood boards are too vague for clients to understand, although they are good for certain parts of the process
  • Style Tiles
    • Gives client an essence or feel for the website – fonts/colors/etc
    • Allows for designing a system, not pages
    • Separates style from substance (content)
    • Are device width agnostic
    • Will facilitate a conversation around responsive design projects
    • Should come before a more refined mockup of pages
    • Allow for quicker iteration
    • Sets you up for creating a full component library – full of all possible design components on website
  • Design Process:
    • Listen
      • Ask questions, get answers then setup kickoff meeting to get alignment on answers from all people on client end
      • Ask what their 3 user goals are and 3 business goals are
      • Ask ‘Why?” throughout
      • Ask metaphor questions like, “If your brand were a ____, it would be a _________ and why?
      • Ask degree questions like, “on scale of 1-5 how strongly do you feel your website should be______ (illustrative/etc)”.
    • Interpret
      • Identify common themes
      • Get agreement on adjectives
      • Begin pairing adjectives with design principles of line, shape, color, texture, space and form
    • Define Visual Language
    • Iterate
      • Easier to do with style tiles
    • Deliver a System
      • System would include the style tile, component library (how all possible aspects of website will look, like, headings, lists, links, etc), and full comps
  • When someone says that designers JUST make things look pretty, a kitten dies!
  • Design a better process!


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