A UI kit is a set of design elements in one style for user interface design that is used by every professional designer or UI design agency. This includes icons, menu items, input forms, tips, reminders, pop-ups, notifications, buttons, etc. The states of the elements, colors, and typography are also used. How can you make one, and why should you consider doing it? Let’s find out.
Who Needs a UI Kit and Why
If you make a UI kit at the start of a project, you have to arrange the elements by the product prototypes.
For frontend developers, the UI kit acts as an instruction for working with interface elements. It simplifies product development and teamwork with the designer.
You can develop a product without a UI kit. There are risks in this approach however: design development time increases; there are discrepancies in the styles and logic of the elements in the finished interface. As a result, the project deadlines are shifted, alterations occur at the layout stage, and an uncomfortable product is obtained that confuses the user. That is why large web design firms prefer to make personalized UI-kits and avoid such risks.
Use a Ready One or Make Your Own?
The Internet is full of resources where you can quickly find and buy a ready-made UI kit. However, this is not recommended.
- First, you still have to customize some of the elements for your project. You will still end up spending time on the UI kit regardless.
- Second, a UI kit is not only a collection of “lego cubes” from which you build a website or application. It is a tool that helps make a user-friendly product. When a designer takes someone’s finished components and arranges them according to the layout, they stop thinking about the goals of the end-user and the business task of the customer.
It does not mean that you need to reinvent the wheel and create familiar elements in an unusual form or produce different entities for one function. Quite the contrary: you design and add only what is necessary to the UI kit.
Then, the UI kit is transformed into a product design system, where all elements, colors, and fonts will be assembled in CSS by a team of frontend developers.
How to Develop a UI Kit
Here is a step by step guide to making your own UI kit.
Step 1. Grid, Fonts, Colors
First, draw a grid for future web applications. This acts as the foundation of the project. The grid sets the rhythm in layouts and helps front end developers with the layout. Select fonts for headings, the main text, and secondary text in the interface.
When choosing colors, determine the main ones: they play the largest role in the interaction of the user with the interface. It is the primary color of the page, the colors of the buttons for the target action, and system alerts.
Step 2. The Main Elements
All the necessary elements were developed at the design stage. Now you need to decide how they look with each option for user interaction.
It’s time to create buttons for target actions, filling forms, drop-down lists. Make the important buttons more visible, and for secondary ones, leave a more neutral look. After developing these elements, add checkboxes and links to the UI kit.
Step 3. Design the Interface Screens
After completing the work on the elements, the next step is to develop the interface screens.
Here you may need additional colors or more buttons. It is important to understand the need for this and to consider the costs of their implementation during UI kit development.
If you place the interface elements from the UI kit into components, you can change everything at once, editing only the parent. Changes are automatically applied to all children in the layouts of the working draft.
Step 4. Pass It to the Developers
The finished UI kit, along with mock-ups, is passed to frontend developers. To make these more convenient for developers to understand the properties of the elements and the rules for their use, you can make textual explanations for each iteration of the elements. For example, sign the colors with a code for CSS, which has 6 Latin characters. For buttons, forms, menus, or input fields, paint the states and indicate when they are used.
For example, for a button in a calm state, opaque color is needed, when you click the mouse, transparency is added first and then the button changes color to a more saturated one.
The choice of approach, whether to use a ready UI kit or design one on your own depends on the resources and objectives of the project in question. In cases when there is a strict deadline, you might want to go for a ready-made UI kit. However, a personalized project kit adds more quality and soul to any digital product and makes it unique.