As a website owner, you understand that your users may be your most valuable asset as well as your harshest critics. Every day, the average internet user spends hours online, interacting with thousands of different interfaces. They know what works well, and they want all websites to operate well as well. However, their notion of work well may differ from yours.
This can make creating web interfaces and experiences a difficult task, especially when you're just getting started. How can you create the ideal online experience for an expert audience?
What are web design patterns, and how do you recognise them?
A web design pattern is not a template or a design that has been precisely specified. It is, rather, a collection of best practises that address a user-centered issue. Let's take a look at a basic web design pattern: dropdown menus
When it comes to user experience design, space is always a factor. Before visual clutter sets in, you can only fit so many page elements inside the viewport (i.e. the visible area of the web page). This is a problem for larger websites with a lot of pages. On a single page, how do designers fit connections to several site sections?
Vertical dropdown menus are one solution. This design pattern describes a set of alternatives that show following a specific event, such as a mouseover or a mouse click. From this new menu, users can select any option. When the user moves their cursor away from the menu, it closes.
Specific features, functionality, aesthetics, and even the language it's programmed in are all under your control. However, the usability criteria for dropdown menus are included in the design pattern.
So, what motivates web designers to stick to these patterns? In the end, there are two main reasons:
First and foremost, design patterns promote a positive user experience. A web design pattern tells a designer where to put page elements and how to organise them to best suit visitors' demands and build vital trust.
Consider landing on a website with badly designed dropdowns. Because they can't perfect basic navigation, you'd definitely form an immediate poor judgement of the site, and possibly the business it represents. This can be avoided to a significant extent by following the design pattern.
Second, design patterns make the design process more efficient. Designers don't have to find a solution to the same problem over and over again because patterns handle common UX concerns prevalent across websites.
Every website with dropdown menus testing and developing their own industry standards would be inefficient. We know what people expect from dropdown list based on years of testing, and we know that their preferences are more or less consistent from site to site. As a result, we instead share knowledge based on these observations.
Of course, we're all regular internet users. Some web design patterns are most likely a reflection of our own common sense, which has been influenced by our own online experiences. However, designers are not the same as the people they create for, thus the logical solution for us may not be the same for the majority of consumers.
Patterns in Web Design Examples
Patterns of Web Navigation:
The navigation is critical to a successful website design. It's one of the first things visitors see on your site, and it'll likely be the last if it's not up to par. Here are a handful of the different navigational patterns that might help visitors reach where they want to go.
Many modern websites use a grid layout as a foundational design component. This design pattern divides the page into equal-width columns with equal spacing between them. Page elements are aligned vertically and frequently horizontally based on these column boundaries. Grids solve the problem of presenting a large amount of content of equal importance in an easy-to-follow format.
Breadcrumb navigation, which is usually implemented as a navigation bar of horizontal text links, assists users in understanding their location on a website. Users can quickly jump to another page by clicking one of the text links, which represent pages in the site's hierarchy.
A wizard assists users in completing a relatively complex series of steps in order to achieve some larger goal. Wizards break down the process and present each step one at a time, requiring users to complete the current step before moving on. This method is commonly used for creating and/or configuring a user account, completing a checkout, or following a tutorial. Each window in the wizard should have only one step, accompanied by clear text, a button to move backward and undo steps, a progress bar displaying steps taken and steps left to complete, and an ability to cancel the wizard at any moment.
When the user scrolls to the bottom of the window, new content continues to load in an infinitely scrolling feed. This creates the perception of a endless flow of content, resulting in high engagement and minimal interaction costs. Infinite scroll works best on websites where users are free to browse without a specific piece of material in mind, and it should only be used in these situations. An animated indicator may be included in infinite scrolling mechanisms to show that more content is being loaded.
Web Design Patterns for Mobile Devices:
The proliferation of smartphones and other consumer touchscreen devices has altered the game of usability. Not only are the screens smaller, but how people interact with touchscreens differs significantly from how they interact with desktop computers — website designers must keep this in mind.
Button for Hamburger:
The hamburger button, another solution for limited space, condenses a website's primary navigation into an icon of three horizontally stacked lines. When pressed, the following menu of navigation links appears: Hamburger buttons have become commonplace thanks to mobile devices, but they can also be found on some desktop layouts. When designing for mobile, make sure the icon is large enough to be visible and pressable, and place menu items far enough apart so users don't accidentally click the wrong link.
The idea behind pull-to-refresh is...well, it's right there in the name. Pull your finger downward and then release to load new content on a mobile feed or refresh a page. Pull-to-refresh is widely used on mobile websites and applications because it is convenient and gives users more control over their feed. A refresh indicator in the form of text, icon, or animation is required for effective use of this method.
Mobile Design with One Finger:
This mobile web design pattern applies to mobile website layouts in general, rather than guiding the design of a specific feature. It encourages designers to consider the user holding their mobile device with one hand.
Essentially, the higher an element is on the screen, the more difficult it is to reach with one's thumb. When placing interactive elements at the very top of mobile web pages, keep convenience and accessibility in mind. If at all possible, avoid it.
Why Do Web Design Patterns Matter?
Guides exist for a reason: to keep you away from certain issues so that you can deliver.
And web design patterns are no exception. They exist to provide a reference point for web designers when developing websites.
Knowing the fundamentals is essential if you want to create your own website instead of hiring a designer or using a template.
Where Can I Find Patterns For Web Design?
Aside from reading blogs and other internet resources, there are numerous methods for discovering web design patterns, the majority of which are shared by other web developers.
The internet is a never-ending source of information, and UI design patterns are no exception. You only need to look in the right places.
Google Developers is the obvious choice for many aspiring UI designers.
Within Google Developers, the fundamentals tab contains everything you could ever need to get started, including various web design patterns.
Understand that, while useful, Google Developers is a beginner's resource. If you want to improve your website skills even more, you should probably go to the next source.
UI Design Patterns
Another excellent resource is the website UI Patterns. This website is essentially a web pattern Yellow Pages. The information presented here is presented in such a way that it is very easy to grasp.
There's also a reason for everything, to ensure that everything you do is done with intention.
Furthermore, the site is regularly updated with new and intriguing patterns. It's like the ultimate UI gift that keeps on giving!
Pinterest and inspiration are like two peas in a compartment.
This image-sharing platform has hundreds, if not thousands, of web design pattern tags for you to sift through. Some are a little basic, but they do give you a better understanding of how these patterns are used in practise.
Pinterest is the place to be if you want to create a user-friendly website and prefer learning through images.
Finally, keep in mind that web design patterns are merely guidelines, not restrictions. Even if you follow patterns, your designs may not serve your users perfectly, which is to be expected. When making changes to your interface's usability, conduct user testing, and then tweak your UI elements to improve ease-of-use. Users may not notice the advantages, but your website's growth will.
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