As a programmer, I’ve come to use the concept of design patterns in my software development efforts. I was suprised, though, to hear that the pixel-pushers also have a concept of patterns in web design. Ryan Singer of 37Signals has written an excellent article on patterns in web design, and how to use them.
There is a better way to manage this vast complexity than by making big decisions up front and hoping for the best. To make better sites â€” sites that are functional, beautiful, and “usable” â€” we have to break our design problems up into small independent chunks based on the real issues within our requirements. Christopher Alexander, who came up with this stuff, calls these chunks patterns.
It’s a slightly different concept in that there’s not a pre-packaged set of common patterns as in software design (at least Ryan doesn’t mention them), but both concepts involve breaking the larger problem down into individual chunks. Ryan does a good job of explaining it in a way that’s conversational and easy to follow. If someone could have explained software design patterns as clearly, it would have saved me a few aspirin.