Interface design patterns are solutions to frequently-occurring problems and situation in the design of interfaces. The end users and the implementation teams conceptualize the interfaces in terms of interface design patterns. The methodology of designing interfaces using this approach is not mature and there is a scarcity of examples and validity studies. However this is a promising approach that is supported by a number of sites which offer design pattern information and by a recently-published book (Borcher, 2001.)
• The method of using design patterns for developing an interactive interface is not well established and there is not at present a body of praxis which can act as a guide.
• Writers on design patterns emphasize that this method encourages iterative design, although the methodology entailed is not well described.
• The following steps are recommended to any design team which is considering employing this method.
- The reader should be warned that there is no empirical justification for the validity of the proposal given on this page.
- An interaction design (ID) pattern is a general repeatable solution to a commonly-occurring usability problem in interface design or interaction design.
An ID pattern usually consists of the following elements:
- Problem: Problems are related to the usage of the system and are relevant to the user or any other stakeholder that is interested in usability.
- Use when: a situation (in terms of the tasks, the users and the context of use) giving rise to a usability problem. This section extends the plain problem-solutions dichotomy by describing situations in which the problems occur.
- Principle: a pattern is usually based on one or more ergonomic principles such as user guidance, or consistency, or error management.
- Solution: a proven solution to the problem. A solution describes only the core of the problem, and the designer has the freedom to implement it in many ways. Other patterns may be needed to solve sub problems.
- Why: How and why the pattern actually works, including an analysis of how it may affect certain attributes of usability. The rationale (why) should provide a reasonable argument for the specified impact on usability when the pattern is applied. The why should describe which usability aspects should have been improved or which other aspects might suffer.
- Examples: Each example shows how the pattern has been successfully applied in a real life system. This is often accompanied by a screenshot and a short description.
- Implementation: Some patterns provide implementation details.