Although not a new concept within the visual design community, the practice of using “style tiles” in your visual process for user interface design I think is still in its infancy and worth mentioning again, especially for introduction to the client side of the equation where my guess is very few are even aware of the idea.
Designers are constantly presented with the challenges of thinking about how they can design visual solutions to work within an ever growing list of devices, resolutions and software platforms. So they are keenly aware of the need to maintain flexible thinking when developing visual solutions for clients. However, clients on the other hand are typically focused only on the end solution and it being what they have pictured in their mind. Often that is comprised of a strong single image that is framed by whatever their everyday context is; for some that may be a browser on a laptop, others it may be a iPhone or mobile device and yet for some other clients it may be a tablet experience, etc. The majority of clients think within the terms of their own familiar context most of the time so understanding what that is may be important for a visual designer, but more important for the success of a project is making sure that early in the process they are helping that client to think beyond that limited vision and to imagine the variety of ways in which their brand will be engaged and seen by their audiences.
In doing so, the traditional way of presenting visual design solutions needs to be revisited and the idea of allowing for a slightly broader brush to be applied in the initial design thinking is warranted so that flexibility, while maintaining expectations, can be incorporated into the end result. The days of showing a client a static mock-up of a 1024×768 browser design are behind us. The recent push to develop visual designs within the live coding process in my opinion has some increasing merit these days but ultimately still seems a bit cart before the horse in terms of establishing client expectations around where you want to go when interpreting the visual brand relative to the variety of device and platform environments the design will be displayed on. So that is where the idea of working “style tiles” into the beginning of the visual design discussion becomes critical. I’ll let you go to the link below to get the nuts and bolts of what “style tiles” are and what they can do for everyone in the process, but suffice to say, the need for thinking about presenting the visual layer of your digital brand in a way that accommodates today’s growing landscape challenges has never been more important.
Check out more about style tiles here: http://styletil.es/