Style guide

Service design style guideAs an urban planning or design of consumers’ goods, IT architecture can be elegant or ugly, functional or wasteful. It can tell us, “Our organization is very pragmatic” or vise verse “We have too much money to spend them smartly”. Different people with their preferences, visions and practical reasons usually form the architecture over the years. Is it possible to keep and control the beautiful style of architecture for a long time?

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Is it possible to keep and control the beautiful style of architecture for a long time? The answer is yes, but it requires significant efforts. Somebody has to control the way of architecture development. For that purpose certain principles, like the golden ratio in architecture, have to be exploited. These principals should be described in the Architecture Style guide.

Style guide has to provide “consistency across [design] microdecisions”. (Brooks, 2010) Usually, it contains 3-5 general principles and number of best practices for subsystems and processes.

For example, stylish architecture has to follow these general principles:

  • Minimize risks! – don’t harm and never put all your eggs in one basket.
  • Count money! – everything has to have a business justification.
  • Do well! – follow the best practices.
  • Evolution, no revolution! – all significant changes have to be done in small steps over considerable time.

Of course, that is just the example. The definition of general principles should reflect a culture of the company, current situation and personal preferences of people.
General recommendations are not about “blah blah blah management”. They are needed for the IT organization. The reason is to explain the purposes of good and best practices. In other words, they are the foundation for specific practices application.

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it.

These are examples of some of the possible best practices for IT organization:

  • Hardware replacement every 5 years.
  • Keep 2 different vendors for servers.
  • Always two redundant and symmetric fabrics in SAN.
  • Software and hardware upgrades always during nighttime.
  • Make regular planned downtimes for infrastructure maintenance.
  • One job in one timeframe. In other words – never upgrade and change configuration simultaneously if it’s not strictly required.
  • Always backup before any changes.

Style guide is User-centric,
Co-creative, Evidencing
and Holistic .


According to (Gothelf, 2013), successful style guide has 3 essential characteristics:

  • Accessible – easy to find, distribute, search and use
  • Continually improved – style guide should evolve together with IT organization
  • Actionable – guide has to work and provide general strategy as well as everyday advices.
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