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When user interface (UI) designers embark on a new design path, reaching a central hub of assets opens up the possibility of smooth navigation. At the heart of a design, its cohesive and uniform design system reinforces the appearance of a design with a consistency that eliminates cognitive friction when applied to digital or printed media. Within the anatomy of a complete design system, UI kits function as an overarching language that informs other vital elements of a design.
What does a user interface kit include?
UI kits embody all the elements and functionality of a digital design. For example, when scrolling through a website, you may encounter icons and widgets or interactive buttons to submit a request. These features are in a UI kit which can be used in an interface when designers are developing a website or a mobile app.
When dissecting the structure of a UI kit, it is made up of two main parts: components and styles. Components are the features that a user can interact with and that convey meaning and function, such as input fields, checkboxes, radio buttons, sliders, icons, micro-interactions, etc.
Styles, on the other hand, are the visual design attributes that make up these components – such as color story, fonts and typography, and even shapes. Together, the component and the styles constitute a UI kit, as it works as a main source that forms the visual identity of a brand.
Related: 5 Tips for Creating Innovative UX Design
UI kits stabilize the design process
Particularly in the wireframe and prototyping process of an interface design, the assembly of UI components and elements are sometimes pieced together from pre-existing UI kit component libraries. Designers can choose which element to use in prototyping stages, such as wireframes. For example, suppose a UI designer is composing the preliminary stage of a design, such as a wireframe for a mobile app, but before they can dive into the development level, there needs to be a design overview.
Tools like Adobe XD allow designers to choose pre-made templates (e.g. a login screen) and place them directly into their outline without having to develop a new screen from scratch. Not only is this convenient, but these templates are paramount in pushing a project along the completion trajectory, especially with a project on a tight schedule. UI kits stabilize the design process with these out-of-the-box elements, which also saves overhead.
However, the choice of UI Kit elements should be strategically selected to ensure consistency throughout, even if the project is still in its infancy. Consistency within UI elements aligns the tone of a project, which can then be easily updated with a consistent style. A good design includes carefully selected components, such as a consistent navigation menu or interactive buttons that all have the same geometric shape, size, and color story.
Related: Implementing Best Practices for Web Design with Iterative Methodologies
UI kits and brand storytelling
For digital design interfaces, UI kits are a great addition to having a collection of assets in one place. A company’s established UI kit is also essential in providing a visual brand story with interconnected language in a brand guide. Brand guidelines communicate the fundamental components that govern a brand’s identity, such as UI elements in UI kits, typography, logo size/spacing, color palettes , tone and general corporate attributes.
Brand guidelines manuals reflect all of the visual assets found in a UI kit, and those assets should also reflect the tone, mission, and purpose that a brand aims to convey. For example, if a nonprofit organization’s brand book evoked a serious tone in its content, its UI assets from a UI kit should not be neon or flashy colored elements. . On the contrary, adhering to a cohesive visual kit would perhaps have an integration of neutral and light colors with a rounded and minimalist iconography and component style. So when selecting a UI kit to compose a new one, careful design decisions are important to propel a brand story.
Related: Understanding the Power of Design and Branding
Streamline your design process
Building a UI kit is like putting together a puzzle to get the big picture. Each piece should fit together perfectly to create a unified design. When launching the preliminary stages of a UI kit, it is always important to consider the following:
Before piecing the puzzle together, it’s important to navigate through a conceptual phase to determine what your design intent will accomplish, if it aligns with a brand tone, or if there are dots weaknesses that it will plausibly repair.
Once the design intent is fully fleshed out, you can then decide on the theme for the UI kit. This helps streamline the components you will select or design, and consistency language will then take place to match its similar elements. When putting together your design kit, it is also imperative to reach all the main structure assets covered.
From there, designers can select the style their components will be in and customize them to fit their design structure. Another best practice when putting together a UI kit for stakeholders is to offer various design directions and allow them to select the ones they find much more favorable to iterate on and ultimately finalize. UI kits are a branching member of an entire design system and instill a visual language that designers, users, and everyone else can understand and appreciate.