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Principles of pattern design

Content design patterns allow content designers to design content solutions consistently and at scale. But what makes a good content design pattern? These are the four principles I consider when designing patterns.

1. Be clear and opinionated

People refer to patterns because they are asking What should I do?” Tell them. Don’t hedge or use nuanced language. All principles are subjective at the end of the day. Your patterns should present an unambiguous point of view on a design choice. It says: We’ve thought about this so you don’t have to.”

2. Tweak patterns sparingly

Every change comes at a cost and is mantaining consistency. If you want to tweak something, make sure the upside outweighs this cost. Also, people hate unlearning things even more than they hate learning things. When you change a pattern, you’ll need to explain why you did so (and be prepared to repeat yourself).

3. Solve real problems people have

Every new pattern saves a designer from future hand-wringing and thinking. It saves everyone time. But don’t pull ideas out of thin air: patterns should actual problems people come to you with. Develop patterns around user needs.

4. Prune bad patterns

If folks find a pattern unusable, change it or prune it. Patterns should be useful and and irrelevant ones undermine your principles as a whole. Bad patterns are ones not followed. Either amend the pattern to make it possible to follow, or acknowledge that it’s not solving a problem people care about.

Summary

Principles of pattern design

How to design a pattern

  1. Be clear and opinionated
  2. Tweak patterns sparingly
  3. Solve real problems people have
  4. Prune bad patterns

Principles of pattern use


Content design


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Principles of pattern use There are good ways to use patterns as you design a user experience. Patterns are basically a collection of design opinions, which means there is
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