Business Benefits of UI Design Patterns
Dr. John Morkes

Many organizations haven’t embraced UI design patterns, despite their growing popularity among UX professionals. Those organizations are missing out on a ton of benefits for Product Management, Engineering, Marketing, UX and the business as a whole.

A UI design pattern is a good, reusable solution for a common but specific interaction design problem. For example, a Wizard is a simple pattern for guiding users through a linear process. Other pattern examples are Inspectors (for revealing metadata), Attribute-Based Search (for targeted searching), and Tag-Based Filtering (for navigating large data sets).

Our company’s own pattern library began in 2003 and contains more than 100 patterns. We use these patterns in designing complex applications and websites for our clients. We also create custom pattern libraries for other companies to use in their products and sites.

‍Fig. 1: A Lens, Chronological Browsing, 3-D Visualizations and other patterns were employed in this prototype by Expero. The user, who is managing sensors at a power plant, navigates by applying various gesture chords to the large touch screen.

What Patterns Can Do for You

To expand on a point made above, if you were to gather all the benefits of a pattern approach, shove them into a huge container and roll it onto an industrial-strength scale, the benefits would weigh at least a ton. (Don’t forget to set the tare first.) Some benefits of UI design patterns that we have seen firsthand:

‍Fig. 2: Patterns help companies to mature their products and transform their businesses faster.

Other Advice on Patterns

To realize the benefits of UI design patterns, organizations need to apply the patterns appropriately. So that people will know when to use or not use a specific pattern, each pattern should be described carefully. Each pattern in our library contains the following information:

A final bit of advice: If people in your organization are scouring the Web for patterns to add to your library, be careful. The Web is full of bad pattern libraries and design ideas that designers simply made up without any user validation. (I know what you’re thinking—it’s hard to believe that the Web contains bad information. But remember not too long ago when websites had slow-loading Flash-based splash pages, before companies realized that users hate them?) Make sure the patterns you bring into your library have been validated as good design solutions for your end-users, preferably through research with representative members of your target user audience.

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