Design Patterns – again

I talked about patterns back in July and here I am again talking about them.

Rightly 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. In User Experience, design pattern refers to a reusable and applicable solution to general real-world problems. For example, a solution for navigating around a website is site navigation (a list of links that point to different sections of the site), a solution for displaying content in a compact space are module tabs. There are many ways to tackle a specific requirement – and as a designer – the most important thing you can do is selecting the option that best reflects the needs of your users.

40+ Helpful Resources On User Interface Design Patterns

There is an article on Smahing Magazine which highlights what it thinks to be the best of the best sites for design patterns. I find myself using this article again and again to reference these sites.

My personal favorites are: is a large collection of design patterns for UI designers to gain inspiration from. The site allows users to keep sets of their own (publicly accessible to site visitors) so that you can see other UI design pattern collections.

Interaction Design Pattern Library has an interaction design pattern library maintained by Martijn van Welie, a Ph. D. graduate in Human Computer Interaction who now works as an Interaction Design Senior Consultant for Philips Design. The library features a ton of design patterns involving various site tasks such as navigating around a site, searching a site, and basic interactions such as slideshows. Each pattern follows a specific format: (1) the problem, (2) the solution, (3) when to use the pattern, (4) why you should use the design pattern, and (5) examples of the pattern in use.

QUINCE: X Patterns Explorer
QUINCE is a beautiful and stunning web application that helps you explore an innumerable amount of user experience design patterns such as date pickers and two-panel selectors. The application requires the Silverlight plugin and is best viewed under Internet Explorer (though we have verified it to work well in Firefox and Safari).

Design of sites

The website is derived from the book and claims to be the definitive reference for the principles, methodologies, and best practices for exceptional Web design.

Designing Web Interfaces

This website is also derived from the book Designing Web Interfaces and lacks detial but has some good stuff on it.


Baychi 11/10

Baychi 11/10

Visualizations of Our Collective Lives
S. Joy Mountford, Osher Fellow, Exploratorium

The lines between art, design, and information are dissolving as we experience new places and objects. Consider, for example, the organic flow of air traffic over North America at daybreak, the bursts of search query memes spreading around the globe, and the pointillist surge of mobile phone usage on New Year’s Eve. Using the new techniques of generative data visualization, a new generation of artist/designers/engineer/scientists are creating gorgeous, dynamic experiences driven by massive sets of data about our own lives. Their work comes to life in architectural spaces, on walls of wood and metal and light and shimmering glass clouds suspended overhead. Of course it must be touched to be appreciated and engaged with, simple gestures launch a thousand images and possibilities. Many of these projects have received international recognition. They are primarily 3D applications that can run in real time, but really can only be appreciated by watching them, as movies. These data movies aim to make information easier to understand while being enjoyable to watch. Surprising insights surface through looking at our ‘data life’ in new ways, and may compel us to design in different, even better ways.


Joy started off the presentation with A bit about her years of experience. Joy was her usually witty self and was a “Joy” to listen to.

One thing that resonated with me early in the presentation was that “Things take a long time to change”. Which is reassuring for many people out there trying to make a change for the better at any company. – slant on social networking and data visualization. Sometimes accurate and sometimes not. Corrections by users and adding what really happened.

An artist that I had never heard of, Christopher Jordan was shown for a visualization. The visualization was both aesthetically pleasing and well as a social commentary. It is great to see such visualization with a message and social messages. Art can educate. Take a look at the series of images below. It was a series that Jordan did commentary on the number of breast implants and female body image.

What do you see? A impressionistic painting of a part of the female form?


What do you see now?


Closer still

Yes those are barbie dolls.

Barbie Dolls, 2008 – 60×80″
This art depicts 32,000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006.

Beautiful and sickening at the same time.

You can see his latest work on his site


Another key take away is that visualizations are about choices. How much or how little data can or should be shown to show things that they did not need to know but now that they see it – its interesting.

Do we have the tools to show data visually? Search is fully of rich data waiting to be discovered  but we need new tools.

Joy showed lots of great examples of compelling visualizaiton that can’t be shown here due. Some really amazing stuff.

Its interesting to think about how we can affect our environment, physically and interact with it either in a direct or indirect way. A blurring of art and technology really brings some interesting possibilities.


Usability of a door

How many times have you not been able to figure out if the door should be pushed or pulled? This does not improve with experience either! Who would have thought this was so challenging to design and implement.

With World Usability just around the corner its a good reminder that everything we touch in the modern world was designed by someone. Often things are not designed well and we all know it when we experience it. Its amazing how well tuned you can be to this stuff if you pay attention. Please use this Thursday to pay attention a bit more to your environment and its usability.