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Infuse Innovation In Design Patterns: Why and How?

November 24, 2018 |

A lot of researches have proved that human behavior happens in patterns and humans largely use the default, familiar patterns to interact with technology, without seeking a new way to do so. Having identified the substantial influence of patterns over human behavior, it is a wise step to use established design patterns in your work. That said, repetition can also kill innovation. It’s nearly impossible to design something new for your audience if you only concentrate on what’s been already done.

In this article, you will learn how you can use innovative ideas with established design patterns to meet the need of your end-users.

What are Design Patterns?

Design patterns are established solutions to recurring problems. Established design patterns are extremely useful for interface designers. One of the best examples of UI design trends can be positioning the login call to action at the upper right-hand corner of the navigation. People are familiar with this type of positioning because they’ve used the same behavior to log in or check their profile for years. They expect the login button to be there.

Tax Zar
Image source:Taxjar

People enjoy the familiar and are reluctant to anything that they don’t know, or is unexpected. When an interface matches the user’s expectations, it reduces cognitive load, saves users’ time, and makes the software more intuitive.

While we are discussing how to bring out originality and infuse innovation in design works, patterns do have a number of advantages for your design process.

Utilizing a pattern saves time as you don’t have to design an interface from scratch, everytime you start a project. You would be building on a solution that has been successful and has worked well in the past. However, relying heavily on design patterns can easily drive you towards an under-researched design.

Before you start customizing patterns, make sure you select the right pattern for the job. Yes, design patterns are usually reliable solutions to recurring problems, but if you don’t choose the right one, your design could actually reduce clarity for your audience. There are various repositories that offer examples of important design patterns. You can choose the most suitable one for you from there. Once you have your patterns in place, it’s time to get into the innovation mode. Here, innovation means specific changes in a few parts of the interface, not spinning the entire thing on its head. The fundamental design still fits a pattern, but new ideas are added to better help your users understand the interface, satisfy their needs, and accomplish their goals.

Cresent Heights
Image source: crescent heights

Ways to Innovate

There are two most commonly used, tried and tested techniques which can be used to infuse innovation in existing design patterns.

Mental Models

A mental model refers to an established belief someone has about how a system should look or function. This principle states that people find something challenging to use if the interface doesn’t function as they have already decided it should. How designers perceive a product or website and how users perceive the same is often poles apart. This discrepancy is the biggest pathway to poor design.

A couple of research methods like Usability testing and card sorting can be used to uncover what’s on your users’ minds. In Usability testing, people verbalize what they’re thinking as they interact with your site, while in card sorting, users group types of data based on categories, which can help you understand where in the interface people expect to find content.

Empathy Maps

An empathy map is a qualitative research method that visualizes specific needs and actions of your users. Using data collected from user interviews, surveys, and field studies, empathy maps typically categorize user needs in four sections: Says, Thinks, Does, and Feels. This kind of research helps in identifying what users feel versus what they do. These conflicts will help you identify what elements to highlight or hide in your UI design.

Innovation has always led to great things, however, it’s not really wise to only depend on innovation and everytime crafting something completely new, without the essence of tried and tested solutions. It should always be a combination of new ideas and established design patterns. Know more about the same by speaking to our design experts.

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