I had a terrific time presenting the Interaction Patterns webinar! We had a lot of great questions, amazing attendance, and some excellent feedback. Here are a few of my thoughts regarding interaction patterns, in case you missed the webinar.

Interaction patterns are different from typical “design patterns”. They’re not a collection or a library of reusable widgets and design elements—they’re a process for analyzing and understanding the structure of an interface or interaction design.

Too often, designers lose sight of structure and get bogged down in low-level details. Interaction patterns are a powerful tool for stepping back and evaluating the structure of your designs, as well as the designs of your competitors. Stripping away visual design, controls, and content helps you focus on the clarity and coherency of your structure.

A clear structure has easily identifiable components and sections, each with a coherent purpose that supports the overall intent of the screen. A design that has clear structure is much easier to use because it’s much easier to understand. If you have trouble naming a component or describing its purpose in one short sentence, how can you expect users to understand what it does?

Interaction patterns are invaluable in other aspects of the design process. The process of analyzing and identifying interaction patterns is a great way to understand new interaction paradigms. If you understand how a paradigm works and why—at a structural level—you can better incorporate it into your design. Using pattern also helps you get out of a design rut. When you have trouble imagining new and better interaction designs for a product, look at the structure of products that have a similar intent, but are in a completely different domain. This helps push your interaction design into new directions, while maintaining clear structure.

How do you maintain focus on structure in your interaction designs? Do you have questions about interaction patterns or how to use them in your own design process? Let me know what you think—leave a comment below.


Did you miss our webinar? Here is a small piece of content that will give you further insight to what the Interaction Patterns webinar was all about. Click “play” to see our video.