Monday, October 23, 2006

Design Pattern Conversation: What’s the Best Way to Communicate Patterns? Part Five

Part 5 on design patterns ...

"I’m constantly amazed at the power of design patterns to communicate. I’ve found that a well-described pattern can both convey both a specific solution (which can help me solve a difficult design problem) and the core interaction principles that underly all good patterns (which can help make me a better designer).

While designers will probably always be the primary authors of and audience for design patterns, I’m finding more and more that they’re useful in communicating with all sorts of folks. These include not only the developers who are responsible for building our designs but also the business folks, product managers, and other non-designers. There’s also a big difference between talking to other designers inside an organization (as with eBay or Yahoo’s internal pattern libraries) and talking to a more general design audience (as with books or the public libraries).

The core pieces of information – What, Use When, Why, How, and Examples – are necessary to tell the story of each pattern for all audiences, and Who becomes a big deal in an internal library. Users of an internal library might also find links to internal design standards and specifications useful, as well as a list of places where the pattern appears. Additionally, as Bill points out, if the pattern will be used by a specific developer audience, the How and Examples might add sample code and implementation details. Since patterns aren’t exactly built in stone, it’s also helpful to add things like ratings, discussions, links to similar patterns, and the like.

Once you’ve added all these additional pieces of information you have something that’s grown well beyond just a design library – and that’s OK as long as it works for the intended audience, and as long as those first core pieces are in place!"    (Continued via Yahoo! User Interface Blog)    [Usability Resources]

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