As a UX designer, I have been involved in the design of more than forty mobile applications and web projects for consumers and the enterprise. Early on in my career, my team and I would spend weeks, or even months, developing design systems with reusable components from scratch without considering the current stage of our customer’s projects; we just wanted to make the UI unique by adding that special UX touch that makes the product look and feel awesome.
But let’s admit it, designing from scratch is not always the best solution.
While working with multidisciplinary teams, designers must understand and take into account two critical aspects of UX/UI: UI Screen Design and Technical Implementation. While designing a design system from scratch with unique reusable components might add that special value all digital products need, it also adds a full load of work for your development team by making implementation, testing, and support a big headache. The exponential increase in development time makes projects more expensive, causes delays and poor-quality product releases in the early stages.
What are the benefits of using a UI framework?
Pre-built UI libraries make design and frontend implementation faster, more accurate and efficient (especially in the early stages of a project) allowing development teams to focus on functional accuracy and technical implementation (e.g., servers, webservices, third party applications, databases, etc.) rather than on aesthetics.
That said, UI frameworks are not always synonymous with bad design. Many UI libraries are very competitive and offer an elegant look and feel, style customization, technical documentation, and even technical support. The following are some frameworks that work really well and have been used in several Anexinet projects.
Tailwind describes itself as the utility-first CSS framework for rapidly building custom designs. And so it is. Tailwind is the most flexible UI framework on the market, providing low-level utility CSS classes that can be tailored to your specific brand and product needs. Its framework makes web design easy to implement due to pre-built responsive grids that make easy work of building responsive interfaces without resorting to custom CSS. The UI library includes tons of snippets that can be dropped into your web projects, a huge variety of reusable UI elements such as section templates, headers, footers, floating banners, menus and slide bars, lists, forms, navigation controls, buttons, etc. All components have a modern look and can be fully customized (i.e., color, border size, font weight, spacing, breakpoint, shadow, and much more).
When to use it: For startups and projects built from scratch. For front-end design teams that can build an elegant look and feel. For customizing and reutilizing the Tailwind CSS UI library for responsive web products.
What you can achieve: Full responsive capabilities without writing custom CSS, modern look and feel and interactivity, accelerated design phase.
Cost: $149-249 USD (early access)
UX Designers, check this out: Kendo UI has released a beta version of Unite UX, a design-development collaboration tool that lets designers reuse Kendo UI library on Sketch and even create prototypes to help ensure developers understand the details of interactive functions and data before converting them to clean code.
When to use it: For fairly mature projects that need UX/UI improvements. UX designers and developers can collaborate on building the best look and feel with reusable Kendo UI elements.
What you can achieve: Professional UX/UI implementation with a huge variety of interactive UI elements.
Cost: $999-2,199 per developer / per year
Material is a design system backed by open-source code that help teams implement responsive frontend design more quickly. It is based on Material Design by Google and is used mostly as a UI framework on Android devices. This unique framework offers interaction patterns that make digital products look great and function well. It boasts the most comprehensive documentation—both for designers and developers—and a wide variety of components that behave very well in web and mobile. The components include menus, buttons, cards, forms, pickers and list views, along with responsive grid templates, multi-breakpoint layouts, and a large library of icons. If you want to add accessibility best practices to your project, this framework also includes a comprehensive guide for accommodating users with disabilities.
When to use it: For startup and mature projects that want to streamline collaboration between designers and developers using Material Design’s UX patterns and look and feel.
What you can achieve: Reuse Material Design interactions and styles to enhance your project’s user experience.
If you’re still trying to figure out the technical details of your project and want to speed-up the UI implementation, a UI framework is the way to go. At Anexinet, our product design team has deep experience at creating interfaces from scratch and at using pre-built UI elements to make your product look and work awesome. It just depends on what you want to achieve for your next iteration. Further, our team of Solution Architects can help identify your best strategy for taking that project to the next level.
For more detail on determining the ideal UX/UI strategy for your project, please check out our recent white paper “Why your UXUI design Strategy should be based on business context.” And if you still have any questions about which UI Framework is right for your project, product, or organization, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. We’d love to help you get started.
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