Info & Interaction Design: Patterns

Mick McQuaid


Week TEN


Design Patterns, Why?

  • I’ve already told you I don’t believe in the Design Patterns Bunny …
  • So, why an entire lecture devoted to Design Patterns?
  • The reason is that Tidwell, Brewer, and Valencia (2020) has come up with a rationale that may work
  • Tidwell, Brewer, and Valencia (2020) catalogs an exhaustive set of interaction design patterns
  • Organizing your thinking this way may help—let’s try it


  • Cognition and Behavior Related to Interface Design, p 11
  • Information Architecture Patterns, p 39, “Special” Group
  • Navigation Design Patterns, p 142, Group (Taylor’s version)
  • Screen Layout Patterns, p 226, Group 8
  • Mobile Interface Patterns, p 305, Group connect 4
  • List Patterns, p 340, Group noop
  • Action Patterns, p 383, Group tew
  • Complex Data Patterns, p 446, Group Wordle
  • Forms Patterns, p 476, The hive five

Cognition and behavior patterns

  • safe exploration
  • instant gratification
  • satisficing
  • changes in midstream
  • deferred choices
  • incremental construction
  • habituation
  • microbreaks
  • spatial memory
  • prospective memory
  • streamlined repetition
  • keyboard only
  • social media, social proof, and collaboration

Note on these patterns

These cognitive patterns differ from all the patterns in the rest of the book. The patterns you’re going to be surveying are prescriptions for interface elements. These are human cognition and behavior patterns. Let’s look at an example.

Safe exploration

“Let me explore without getting lost or getting into trouble.”

How to support safe exploration?

  • Multilevel undo (one of the action patterns Group tew can explore)
  • Predictable back button (no back button hijacking or interstitials …)

Another example: Satisficing

  • portmanteau of satisfying and sufficing, coined by Herbert Simon in 1957
  • used in psychology and economics to describe people accepting the first “good enough” solution to a problem
  • thinking about an optimal solution represents additional work and there’s a tradeoff

Supporting satisficing

  • calls to action
  • short labels
  • use layout to communicate meaning (layout patterns covered by Group 8)
  • escape hatches
  • reduce visual complexity, e.g., with hierarchy

Your part

Why present?

According to Edgar Dale, you remember:

  • 10% of what you read
  • 20% of what you hear
  • 30% of what you see
  • 50% of what you see and hear
  • 70% of what you discuss
  • 80% of what you experience
  • 95% of what you teach


Nielsen, Jakob. 1994. “Enhancing the Explanatory Power of Usability Heuristics.” In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’94), 152–58. New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery.
Tidwell, Jenifer, Charles Brewer, and Aynne Valencia. 2020. Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design. Third edition. Sebastopol, CA, USA: O’Reilly.



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