UX deliverables like wireframes and comps get a lot of flak owing to their short life span and inability to produce actual lines of code. Surely this is one of several reasons for the movement to get out of the UX deliverables business. Let’s face it though, our clients will always want to see some tangible vestige of what lies ahead in order for them to feel satisfied that their money is well spent. Luke Booker recently posted a deck about Future Friendly Style Guides, in it he advocates the use of pattern libraries as a way of creating living, breathing style guides, a means to not just document in a PDF file how site elements are meant to be styled, but to host the actual browser-tested HTML & CSS that comprise those elements. The end goal being that it’s much easier to lean on these pattern libraries to build out pages and views than it is to require a visual designer to mock up endless views to cover every conceivable use case.
In the latest A List Apart, Samantha Warren makes the case for style tiles, which seem to occupy the space between the traditional “mood boards” from the world of print and interior design and the “here’s 3 different versions of the homepage” web design strategy that’s been employed since the 90′s. Style tiles seem a really powerful and lightweight way to vet and establish the client’s visual direction as quickly and simply as possible. There’s a natural synergy between style tiles and HTML/CSS pattern libraries too – the latter is really just the evolution of the former. There could even be some efficiencies gained in creating a hybrid of the two, using real HTML & CSS to handle typography, spacing and layout, and supplementing those with images as necessary to represent more technically complex visual elements. As those elements move closer to client approval, they too would be converted to the an HTML-based implementation. This has the added benny of mitigating the slight, though inevitable, shift in fidelity between a PSD and it’s HTML spawn – clients see the elements rendered in hard knox browserville rather than in utopian bitmapalia.
This powerful collaboration of style tiles and pattern libraries in itself likely won’t stem the tide of those getting out of UX deliverables business, but surely it’s got enough “leaving-so-soon?” sexiness that folks might just be inclined enough to see what else is in store for the gamut of UX deliverables.