Patterns / best practice guidelines

13 Nov 2003 - 6:44am
10 years ago
3 replies
1055 reads
Alex Bainbridge
2003

Hi all

I wonder if the list has any views as to the difference between a pattern
and a best practice guideline.

Nielsen creates guidelines, I create guidelines (some would say, and they
are very specific for the travel industry) while others create patterns?

Jenifer wrote:

>(1) more patterns in general, covering more of the design space,
>(2) more low-level patterns, which would address smaller-scale
design problems?

Is a pattern a generic top level design solution / concept whereas a
guideline is the application of a pattern to a specific situation? So a
guideline would be (2).

What should interaction designers be focussing on?

?

alex
www.travelucd.com
84 guidelines so far

-----Original Message-----
From: tim[othy] martens [mailto:timfm at hawaii.rr.com]
Sent: 13 November 2003 02:10
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Cc: alex.bainbridge at travelucd.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] task flow pattern question

Alex,

I just finished your "Hotel Date Entry" Report and find it enormously
useful. An excellent piece of research. Highly recommended to list members:

http://www.travelucd.com/research/date_entry_hotel_july2002.php

I'm wondering about ways to innovate on the best practices/patterns
defined by your research.

Comments

13 Nov 2003 - 8:19am
Dan Saffer
2003

A pattern, as I understand it, is a way to capture best practices so
that they can be used again and again in many different situations.
They can be either fairly generic/high-level ("Tabbed Navigation") or
very specific, for individual problems that seldom arise ("Constrained
Resize").

Keeping patterns to high-level ones would severely limit their use, I
think.

There's no reason some of Jakob's guidelines couldn't make their way
into patterns. Assuredly some of them already have.

Two main differences between a guideline and a pattern are their tones
and forms. A guideline generally comes down like a pronouncement on
high ("Flash is 99% bad") and is in a quickly-digestable form. Which
can make them both useful and highly quotable. Patterns are less
authoritative in tone and generally longer.

It might be a broad stroke to say this, but I would venture to say that
most guidelines spring from a negative observed ("Don't go longer than
three pages. Users don't like that."), while patterns spring from a
positive used ("Use tabs in X situations."). One could also say this is
the difference between usability and design.

Dan

14 Nov 2003 - 1:24pm
Peter Bagnall
2003

Another vital difference is that patterns are always experience based,
whereas guidelines might be derived from theory.

You can't just invent patterns, you have to observe them working well
in real systems first. I've sometimes used the term proto-pattern for a
design solution that might become a pattern but for which I have
insufficient real world examples to really say it is a pattern. As Dan
says, this experience aspect leads to patterns being (typically)
positive statements about what works. Having said that in the software
patterns domain (as opposed to design patterns) anti-patterns are well
known. These are solutions which seem like a good idea at the time but
then cause problems later. I'm pretty certain Alexander never used the
idea of anti-patterns but it might be useful for us.

--Pete

On Thursday, Nov 13, 2003, at 13:19 Europe/London, Dan Saffer wrote:

> A pattern, as I understand it, is a way to capture best practices so
> that they can be used again and again in many different situations.
> They can be either fairly generic/high-level ("Tabbed Navigation") or
> very specific, for individual problems that seldom arise ("Constrained
> Resize").
>
> Keeping patterns to high-level ones would severely limit their use, I
> think.
>
> There's no reason some of Jakob's guidelines couldn't make their way
> into patterns. Assuredly some of them already have.
>
> Two main differences between a guideline and a pattern are their tones
> and forms. A guideline generally comes down like a pronouncement on
> high ("Flash is 99% bad") and is in a quickly-digestable form. Which
> can make them both useful and highly quotable. Patterns are less
> authoritative in tone and generally longer.
>
> It might be a broad stroke to say this, but I would venture to say
> that most guidelines spring from a negative observed ("Don't go longer
> than three pages. Users don't like that."), while patterns spring from
> a positive used ("Use tabs in X situations."). One could also say this
> is the difference between usability and design.
>
>
> Dan
>
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15 Nov 2003 - 3:16pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

At 11:44 AM 11/13/2003 +0000, Alex Bainbridge wrote:
>I wonder if the list has any views as to the difference between a pattern
>and a best practice guideline.

Well, I wrote an article on just this topic a few months' back...

http://www.uie.com/Articles/landay_vanduyne_article.htm

Jared

Jared M. Spool User Interface Engineering
http://www.uie.com jspool at uie.com
Don't miss the new UIE Roadshow: Content Is Critical
Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, and DC -- 12/03 - 3/04
http://www.uieroadshow.com

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