About the design system

What are NELSON Standards?

NELSON Standards are a set of rules that save designers and developers time when creating new applications for the Royal Navy. They ensure familiarity is maintained between applications, providing Royal Navy personnel with a consistent user experience.

Standards guidance primarily governs the style and usage of visual elements on a page. These are categorised into three key areas:

  • Styles - basic rules governing the use of elements such as colour, typography and imagery.
  • Components - individual elements that make up a page, such as drop-downs, buttons and headings.
  • Patterns - collections of components to describe how a user is presented with a simple workflow. For example, the form components making up a ‘sign in’ dialogue box.

The guidance in Standards is often referred to as a ‘design system’.

Why are Standards useful?

Having a pre-made library of styles, components and patterns reduces the barrier to entry when building new software. It saves designers and developers time as they do not need to create many common elements from scratch, and can re-use proven code. For example, the appearance and functional behaviour of a button is defined in the Standards.

The Standards Toolkit provides visual templates and code samples enabling the rapid delivery of design work and production ready code. This allows functional prototypes to be quickly tested with users and iterated frequently based on feedback.

Royal Navy users of NELSON systems have a consistent experience when switching between applications. This reduces the need to learn new systems and reduces training times. Guidance around each component and pattern ensures that design elements always have a consistent behaviour, for example, a red button would always indicate a destructive action such as ‘delete’.

How do Standards align with Royal Navy principles?

NELSON Standards are rooted in Navy doctrine and align with its core values. By maintaining a disciplined approach to design and development of Applications and respecting the Standard, we ensure that end-users are well-equipped to perform their role, and can work to the best of their abilities.

Using the Standard correctly enables the integrity of software to be maintained. NELSON Applications are characterised by their design based on end-user needs, consistent and predictable behaviour and high quality user experiences. Costs are reduced as designers and developers do not need to start over with new codebases and visual language for every project.

NELSON has worked with a number of teams in the Royal Navy to develop Applications based on the Standard. Please contact the team if you would like to find out more about them.