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By Andres Reaza
October 27, 2023

Product UI library customization for your digital product

User interface (UI) libraries play a significant role in streamlining the design and development process. However, to stand out from the crowd and offer a unique user experience, customization is the key. In this blog, we’ll dive into the UX Neighbor process of creating a customized UI library. From the design to implementation.

 

 

Start with an Out-of-the-shelve UI library

The choice of the best out-of-the-shelf UI library depends on your specific needs, project requirements, and the technology stack you’re using.

Web development: Bootstrap, Material UI, Ant Design, Chakra, Semantic UI, Foundation and others.

Mobile App Development: Gluestack UI (Nativebase refactored), React Native Elements, Ionic, Flutter and others.
 

Understanding the importance of customization

Customizing a UI library allows you to tailor the user interface of your web or mobile applications to meet your specific needs and brand identity. It enhances user experience, fosters brand recognition, and differentiates your product from the competition.
 

Defining Your UI Library’s Purpose & objectives

Before you begin, it’s crucial to know who will be using your UI library. Understand their needs, preferences, and pain points. Are you building a library for developers, designers, both, specific enterprise users? Then you should define clear goals for your UI library, such as improving design consistency, increasing development speed, or achieving a particular visual style. All of them are good goals but you should prioritize one above the others because design teams can focus the effort in different perspectives. At the end, the whole point of this work is to design a flexible and maintainable design system and UI component library, but as design and development is a work that gets done (most of times) in parallel, prioritizing goals allow teams to collaborate better and document UI with the right amount of quality.
 

Incorporating your brand’s look and feel

Most of UI libraries allow teams to customize UI theme’s fonts and colors, but if you take a closer look to how colors and font styles are documented they tend to have multiple variables. Colors in one hand, are documented using HUE that defines a color (red, blue, pink..) and SHADES that define the level of saturation of each HUE (100, 200, 300, etc). Font style variants are documented in terms of font-family, font-size, font-width and line-height (for most of times), but there are applicable variables such as alignment, color and other attributes. So the best way to define how your brand will be incorporated to the UI library theme is to create mockups that test the look and feel. Then, you can translate your brand into the documentation guidelines to incorporate it without breaking UI standards.
 

 

Re-shaping UI components

With the proliferation of SaaS products and digital startups, has become increasingly clear that many products resort to generic off-the-shelf UI libraries, resulting in a homogenous appearance. I If you aspire to set your product apart from the competition, you can achieve this without the arduous task of creating a design system from the ground up.  One effective strategy is to customize the style of UI components, thereby imbuing them with a distinctive and unique aesthetic. A select few UI libraries offer the flexibility for component reshaping, which underscores the importance of this feature for all product teams to contemplate before settling on a UI library.
 

 

Building custom components to support all product features

While UI libraries undoubtedly provide an essential foundation for constructing UI elements, their capabilities have limits. When you aim to elevate user experience and enhance interactivity, the necessity for custom components becomes apparent. Although exploring alternative open-source libraries is an option, this approach carries the risk of deviating from standard UI conventions, potentially impacting the overall quality.
 

 

The most prudent approach is to begin by thoroughly comprehending the specific requirements, followed by ideating and prototyping the desired components before proceeding with their implementation. This meticulous process ensures a balanced blend of customization and adherence to UI standards, resulting in an optimal user experience.
 

Building a comprehensive UI documentation

As the result of a customized UI theme, component reshape and custom UI components, you will need to have a detailed documentation that incorporate all these changes. This will help the team to understand how to implement the components effectively. Considering using documentation generators such as Storybook help to automate and streamline documentation process.
 

 

Integration and version control

Using git and version control to manage the UI library codebase allow a perfect collaboration with development teams even when working as 2 separate units (outsource) since the work becomes stable and maintainable. Design team can distribute the UI library through package manager like nom, making accessible to a wider product team.
 

 

 

Scalability and maintenance

By adhering to this approach, product teams can consistently maintain a scalable and adaptable UI. As a product enters the market, it becomes imperative to remain responsive to user feedback, implement performance enhancements, and accommodate additional functionalities. Therefore, emphasizing the importance of meticulously managing UI library documentation is more significant than one might initially realize.

 

Conclusion

Creating a customized UI library is a significant undertaking, but the rewards in terms of design consistency, user experience, and brand identity are well worth the effort. With UX Neighbor, you can develop a unique UI library that sets your web or mobile applications apart from the competition. Reach out to us to talk about your project and give totally-free advice about what library to use.

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