patterns shmatterns

Design patterns are quite the buzz work these days in both the engineering world and designer world. Righly so, why design something that there are already best practices for.

Design patterns were first described in the 1960s by Christopher Alexander, an architect who noticed that many things in our lives happen according to patterns. He adapted his observations to his work and published many findings on the topic. Since then, design patterns have found their place in many areas of our lives, and can be found in the design and development of user interfaces as well.

My favorite pattern in the article on smashmagazine is “10 UI Design Patterns You Should Be Paying Attention To” is progressive disclosure. Where would be without this one. It helps clean up ui’s while providing information that is secondary but nice to have the data so close by. It walks the fine line of giving users the functionality and power that they want but not making everyone see that bit of functionality.

There are some official definitions out there. If you don’t know what progressive disclosure is here are some definitions:

Progressive disclosure is an interaction design technique that sequences information and actions across several screens in order to reduce feelings of overwhelm for the user (Spillers 2004).

Nielsen (2006) defines progressive disclosure as a technique that “defers advanced or rarely used features to a secondary screen, making applications easier to learn and less error-prone”.

Some common examples are:

  • Learn more link
  • Related topics link
  • Overview of account information on the first screen
  • View more details link
  • Advanced search link

What is the best example of progressive disclosure you have see?


1 thought on “patterns shmatterns

  1. I rather like the way Pitchfork drives the user into lower level pages by simply listing clickable headlines within each their top stories. They also offer up brief descriptions of their multimedia elements, so the user gets the gist of what they’re clicking on, rather than just a thumbnail.

    The text height borders on the microscopic sometimes, but the home page is fairly easy to scan, and presents a ton of info without seeming daunting or crowded, like the New York Times’ site.

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