Website Design Patterns. What exactly are they? Without a doubt you have heard that word, but what does it actually mean in the website design world? I know when I hear the word pattern, I think back to elementary school, when they were teaching us that patterns are something like “square-circle-square-circle”, but the definition that “The Design of Sites” book gives is: “Communicate insights into design problems, capturing the essence of the problems and their solutions in a compact form”. To simplify that, it’s the parts of a website that make it run properly.There are multiple groups of patterns, going from “A-L”; each of these letters has different roles. For example, Pattern Group “K” are buttons and “L” makes the website run faster.

To give you some background information about patterns, the original “inventor” was named Christopher Alexander (and some of his other colleges). He “discovered” the idea of a pattern in the year of 1977. He intended for common people to use patterns in everyday life to use as a guideline for the creative process. Although they are used in websites, the book mentions that they could also be used to build homes or anything that requires you to use your imagination. Now though, these patterns are mainly used for website design. When people go to a website they don’t go in “blind”, people already know the basics of how to navigate a website, click and it will take you somewhere. The book mentioned something that really stood out to me; patterns reflect how customers understand the website, how they interact with it. People take other experience from visiting other websites to try to understand how the world works.

There are 6 parts of a pattern: name, background, problem, forces, solution, and other patterns to solve the problem. The name, background, problem, and solution are pretty self-explanatory, but just to be sure, background provides context for the problem. Forces though are “Key issues that come into play when you are trying to solve a particular design problem”, these follow the problem and describe it in detail. The person that is in charge of keeping the website up to date and managing it, can go into the pattern groups to troubleshoot. For example, if the checkout option of someone’s website is acting up, you can go into group f, which deals with basic e-commerce issues. Meaning that there is always a pattern to fix whatever problem your website is having.