After the UX person has left, are UI Guidelines enough ?

14 Jul 2010 - 4:35am
6 years ago
4 replies
790 reads


I'm on a project in a big bank. I am creating a good UI with proper UX for an existing project. My concern is that when I am gone, even if I write a UI guidelines document, developers will mess up the UI when they add new elements / screens.

What is your experience with that ? Were UI guidelines ever effective ?




14 Jul 2010 - 5:07am

UI guidelines could work beautifully if left on the hands of people who "want to believe". My experience tells me that almost everybody believes that is an expert on UI and will try to slip their view through the cracks of a Wireframe or a Guide Line even when you are sitting next to them. It does not matter if you are there or not, developers and managers who want to do their thing will try their best to sabotage your work. When you are not there - even for vacation - they will party over your designs. Especially in a bank, I am betting that every department will try to use your first page as a post-it whiteboard.

Having said that, you can try and hope that at least one person will ask for them in the future before its too late.

14 Jul 2010 - 8:51am

True enough.

BTW, I don't despise developers. I'm a UX developer (which means I develop custom components and implement UX designs in the real apps). But backend developers (e.g Java guys who dabble with Flex) usually really don't care about the UI. They say things like "What matters is that it works" (implying that UX is just "Making look nice gimmick"). Leave them on their own for one week, and the UI becomes crap. Somebody has to own the UI.


14 Jul 2010 - 9:12am

Karl, the real question is: Do the developers see your guidelines as valuable? Do they perceive them as a tool for helping make design decisions, or as a constraint that forces them to do more work?

If you want to design UX guidelines that are still perceived as valuable after you're gone, I highly recommend reading Mike Kuniavsky's excellent paper on this subject:

The first few pages and the "guidelines for designing guidelines" at the end are especially good.


14 Jul 2010 - 9:34am
Brian Mclaughlin

End of the day....

"You have to be OK with letting go"

If you need this for reference or portfolio work, I would highly suggest that you get as many samples as you can of what you made/designed/were-part-of in the state as you intended it.

Because it WILL change. Just the nature of the work.


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