All posts tagged “Patterns”

Freebie Release: 15 Valentine’s Day Patterns by Freepik

If you haven’t gotten the hint yet, Valentine’s Day is this Saturday. Whether it’s for business or for your own personal use, chances are you’re probably in need of some Valentine’s Day inspired resources. Well, you’re in luck.

We’ve teamed up with our friends over at Freepik to help celebrate Valentine’s in style. Ranging from your traditional lace Valentine’s card pattern to a few more modern and classic patterns, there’s 15 lovely Valentine’s patterns for you to choose from.

They are available in AI, EPS and JPG format for your use. The best thing about it? It’s all completely free. So take a look at the selection of patterns available below and consider this your early Valentine.

Click on each of the image to download their specific pattern, or click the download link at the bottom to download them all at once. For more freebies, click here.

Download Valentine’s Day Patterns

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How to use UI patterns in 5 easy steps

Read more about How to use UI patterns in 5 easy steps at

In this article, Chris Bank of UXPin – the wireframing & prototyping app – explains the theory and practices applying UI patterns to your website. For analysis of UI examples from over 33 companies, feel check out Web UI Best Practices.

Creative Bloq

Free Vector Patterns Compilation – Invaluable Time-Saver for Designers

Browse 30 stunning free vector patterns all gathered in one place. Use any in personal and/or commercial purposes.

A Deep Look at Data & Content Design Patterns

Proper content and information design are important for traditional publishing and user-generated content sites, whether it’s the front-end experience or the underlying systems (ex: content management systems) that keep them operational.

As users are able to interact with and edit more more parts of their applications, every piece of information (i.e. location data, timestamping, profile info, mutual connections, etc.) and content (profile images, user-generated content, business listings, etc.) must be designed with that in mind.

In this article, we dive deep into 18 different UI patterns for data and content management.

An Overview of The Data & Content Patterns

Here’s an overview of the design patterns we’ve detailed in this article:

  1. Favorites & Bookmarks
  2. Stats / Dashboards
  3. Contextually-Aware Content
  4. Hover Controls
  5. Context Menus
  7. Autosave
  8. Lightbox Photo Slideshows
  9. Full-Screen Modes
  10. Interactive Content Layers
  11. Maps As Backgrounds
  12. Group Friends & Content
  13. Grids
  14. Cards
  15. Hidden Information
  16. Empty States
  17. Direct Manipulation of Content & Data
  18. Draggable Objects

1. Favorites & Bookmarks

Examples: Airbnb, Medium

Problem: The user wants to save and highlight content they like.

Solution: Let users save and bookmark content for their reference. This UI pattern is more about personal organization rather than promoting content, and many web apps like Facebook, Gmail and Airbnb let users “star”, “favorite”, “save” or “bookmark” content privately, giving the user a way to come back to any place in the app that they might need later.

As opposed to liking or sharing content that tends to get lost in the timeline as the user’s activity progresses, Favorites and Bookmarks can be used to mark content that the user would need to come back to, for example neighborhoods a user is researching in Airbnb or a particular email that the user wants to mark as important. This UI pattern gives users a private way of highlighting important content as opposed to taking an action on it like sharing or liking it.

2. Stats / Dashboards

Examples: LinkedIn, Medium

Problem: The user wants to easily keep track of their activity and status.

Solution: Present important information and statistics to summarize user activity and status in terms of numbers. Twitter and Quora show users the number of followers and tweets or answers they have for an indication of activity. While some web apps only show number of likes, shares or followers, others like Medium, LinkedIn and Quora also show users more detailed statistics about their activity using Dashboards that used to be limited to business applications.

With the extensive tracking and analytics data available for user interactions, this pattern will become even more popular as users want to track their activity on the system and even analyze how they’re doing in comparison to others.

3. Contextually-Aware Content

Examples: Facebook

Problem: The user wants to interact with content in different ways based on the context without having to take additional actions.

Solution: Change the state of content based on other settings in the application or it’s sizing, positioning, or other attribute. For example, you can auto-play multimedia content as the user scrolls past. This makes the consumption of user content much smoother by eliminating the step where users stop and hit the play button.

In terms of making things easier for users, this pattern makes sense but at the same time it is worth considering the annoyance it can cause. For that reason alone, this pattern is worth considering only for sites and networks that feature a lot of multimedia user-generated content where the user is browsing with the explicit intention of consuming that media. The user would probably not browse through a Vine timeline for any other reason than to watch the videos, so it makes sense. Facebook‘s implementation is a little suspect for the same reason.

4. Hover Controls

Examples: Pocket

Problem: The user wants to have access to controls without cluttering the content view.

Solution: Hide actions and control buttons until a user hovers over the item they relate to. It’s always good to give the user complete control over content, but when an interface has a lot that can be acted upon, each button steals focus away from the content. This UI pattern hides these contextual controls until the user hovers over the content with their mouse, keeping them out of the way until needed. Pinterest puts all focus on the photos, so the “heart”, “send”
and “pin” buttons are invisible until you hover over the photo.

As discussed in Web UI Design Patterns 2014, this fits well with the modular cards UI pattern. Since the buttons appear over the image itself, there’s no confusion about which item they will act upon.

5. Context Menus

Examples: Dropbox, Medium

Problem: The user wants to have access to controls without cluttering the content view.

Solution: Put contextual action buttons in a menu that pops up when the user selects an item or right-clicks somewhere in the UI. A context menu opens up to show essential actions that can be taken in the current view or upon the selected content. This makes things faster for users. Instead of having to scroll up to a toolbar, users can simply perform their desired action in place.

The traditional context menu is triggered by a right click, and applications like Word Online, Google Drive, Evernote and Dropbox that emulate a desktop UI use them mostly for CRUD controls. Another implementation of context menus is a menu that pops up when users select text on the page. Medium puts the “notes” button and “share as a tweet” button behind this kind of context menu, and Quora puts an option to quote the text in an answer.


Examples: Gmail, Medium

Problem: The user wants to add formatted text and preview what their content looks like without having to worry about markup languages.

Solution: Implement a WYSIWYG text editor that lets users format their entered text without having to go into Markdown formatting or HTML code. This gives users a clear preview of how their content will look once published and can be a great way of lowering the barrier of entry for novice users. In the spirit of direct manipulation, this pattern is widely implemented in most blogging and email web apps, allowing users to edit and preview formatted multimedia content as they would in a text editor on their desktop.

7. Autosave

Examples: Gmail, Medium

Problem: The user wants to protect their data and continue working without having to remember to do so.

Solution: Prevent accidental data loss by implementing an autosave feature in your app. Gmail and Google Docs does this flawlessly, auto-saving your work every few seconds and preventing any “oh, no!” moments. The autosave pattern is an unobtrusive way of doing that without forcing the user to remember to save every few minutes.

Browser crashes, power or connection failures, or even accidentally closing the browser tab are major annoyances that can be soothed when the user is assured that their work hasn’t been lost. With cheap data storage and other UI patterns like User History, it makes sense to preemptively save user data rather than risk losing it by mistake. Of course there needs to be a clear indication that the app is autosaving, and perhaps even an additional “Save” button to provide a greater feeling of control.

Examples: Facebook, Pinterest

Problem: The user wants to browse through multimedia content.

Solution: Show multimedia content in a lightbox overlay. This modal window creates focus on the image or video content and breaks it free from the confines of the page’s design. It also puts users in a better position to simply browse through the gallery without being distracted with the surrounding “chrome” in the page.

Most implementations of this pattern also dim the background page behind the modal window and that prevents the user from losing their place in the main content view. This can come in handy particularly when paired with an infinite scroll pattern, as in Facebook and Pinterest. It’s faster than loading a new page for each image and also preserves the user’s flow when the want to back out of the multimedia gallery. For photo galleries, a modal lightbox slideshow is an essential UI pattern.

9. Full-Screen Modes

Examples: YouTube, Medium

Problem: The user wants to focus on content instead of being distracted with the UI

Solution: Design a full-screen mode that hides or minimizes the UI clutter around content. This helps users focus on what matters, rather than being distracted by the clutter of the UI. While multimedia web apps like YouTube and Vimeo let users view videos in full-screen mode, other web apps like Medium and Facebook are using the full-screen concept to eliminate unnecessary “chrome” when the user wants to perform particular actions.

For example Facebook lets users browse photo albums in a Lightbox Photo Slideshow (above), which is another pattern that we cover, but this expands to the entire screen. Medium removes all distractions when the user is writing, effectively achieving the same immersive effect as an otherwise traditional full-screen mode.

10. Interactive Content Layers

Example: Airbnb, Yelp

Problem: The user wants to know which items within a content view they can interact with in further detail.

Solution: Layer interactive items to provide an “augmented reality” approach to your content. Yelp and Airbnb provide classic examples of this pattern: Next to the search results for different locations, these sites include a map that highlights each search result with a corresponding location ‘bubble.’

When users hover over the search result, the corresponding location bubble in the map becomes highlighted so that users can immediately see where each result is located. Additionally, users can interact with the map itself, e.g. by dragging to different locations – both Airbnb and Yelp have a ‘Search when map is moved button’ that automatically shows new location bubbles in the new areas of the map.

11. Maps As Backgrounds

Examples: Airbnb, Foursquare

Problem: The user wants to spatially place content on a map to see what’s going on around them.

Solution: Provide maps as backgrounds when the user is browsing for information that’s local in nature. Web apps like Foursquare and Airbnb layer their listings onto the map view, transforming the user’s search and browsing activities into an immersive experience. This makes sense for most location-based web apps which provide users information about localized content because it helps them place it according their own location on a map in a way that’s more intuitive than just browsing a list.

12. Group Friends & Content

Examples: Google+, Google Play Music

Problem: The user wants to organize content according to their own groupings

Solution: Allow users to sort and organize friends and followers inside the app. Google+ and Facebook among others allow users to group friends and content alike. Besides allowing users to sort their friends, web apps like Google Play Music and Ebay allow for content to be categorized into playlists and collections that not only help them organize the huge amounts of user-generated content for their own convenience, but also create a way for them to share these collections with their friends and followers.

As content of all forms – including friend profiles – continues to proliferate, the ability for users to curate and organize things in a way that makes sense to them becomes more important.

13. Grids

Examples: Pocket, NYTimes

Problem: The user wants content to be organized.

Solution: Show snippets of content in a grid. Spotify and Google+ present all their content in a grid, as do Pinterest and Digg, effectively separating each item from the other while maintaining a structure. Grids are a great alternative to the simple list views and work extremely well for content that can be represented visually, making it much more enjoyable for users to scroll through lots of content.

Other sites that are content heavy, like NY Times or CNN can also benefit from a grid layout to help provide some visual structure to the various pieces of content. Some like Pocket and Groupon also allow users to toggle between the grid and list views depending on their preferences.

14. Cards

Examples: Twitter, Google+

Problem: The user wants to browse through content quickly and interact with it, without the detail views cluttering up the UI.

Solution: Present snippets of information in bite-sized cards that can be manipulated to show more information if the user wants it. Popularized by the likes of Pinterest to show large image thumbnails in a compact layout, we see “card” views now being implemented in a variety of web apps beyond video and photo galleries on the web, and often this is combined with a Grid pattern.

This pattern works best for “modules” of data that can be viewed or manipulated individually, like posts on Tumblr or Facebook. Cards are a way to allow users to browse and discover all kinds of content in a more engaging way while accommodating responsive design trends, as well as social feed patterns.

15. Hidden Information

Examples: Medium

Problem: The user wants quick access secondary information that’s not usually necessary to show.

Solution: Hide contextual information that’s not essential behind the UI but make it accessible for power users. Medium hides comments behind a number, subtly showing users that there’s additional information available.

This keeps the user’s focus on the primary content without distracting them with extra clutter in the UI. As users become familiar with the system, the visual shortcuts become easier to spot. Google+ achieves the same effect by hiding multiple tags on each post and marking it with a colored bar to indicate extra tags other than the first one that is always visible.

16. Empty States

Examples: Airbnb, Pinterest

Problem: The user needs to know why a section of the application is empty and what to do next.

Solution: Make sure your UI provides a good first impression by designing for the “blank state,” that is the condition when there is no user data. This is the natural state of your UI and the first thing a user sees. It is also the point where many users decide whether its worth it to continue, so designing the empty state is very important. This is a great place to show some examples that will help users get started or simply to show them instructions on how to proceed.

Airbnb shows a mockup of how a particular section would look like once it’s populated by the user’s content, while Pinterest takes the opportunity to guide the user through what next steps they should take; other sites like Tumblr and Medium give users hints on what the empty area is and what it should be once the user takes a certain action.

17. Direct Manipulation of Content & Data

Examples: Asana, Facebook

Problem: The user wants to interact with entered content or data in a direct and intuitive way.

Solution: Allow for content to be edited directly without having to transition between editing or deleting modes. Letting users work with data directly on the screen can make your UI more engaging by eliminating the extra layer of interaction provided by a button or context menu. Instead of selecting the item and then toggling between individual CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) states, users of Asana for example can directly tap on task names to edit or delete them.

Other sites like Tumblr and Medium follow the same principle however they do include a toggle which moves the user into an editing mode. This pattern is an alternative to the WYSIWYG pattern discussed earlier but goes ahead of just giving users a preview of what their formatted content will look like, showing them also how it looks in context of the surrounding content as well.

18. Draggable Objects

Examples: Asana, Google Play Music

Problem: The user wants to sort and organize items in a way that makes sense to them in the current view without pogo-sticking between master and detailed views of content.

Solution: Content can be picked up and rearranged, or simply dragged across to perform an action. One great example of this pattern is when you’re arranging items on the homescreen, but we see this being implemented in a lot of web apps as well.

Google Play Music lets you drag and drop songs in a playlist to rearrange the order in which they’re played. Since this is a very interactive action, you should make sure the UI provides visual feedback in the form of animations or color changes to clearly indicate that something is happening. For example, items being dragged in Asana are highlighted with a shadow. Another visual cue is highlighting the drop target, that is the location where the item will fall when the user lets go.

Keep Your User Organized

Keep track of where your users are supposed to be interacting with data and content, whether they ever view those sections of the application, how often they interact with them, where they’re coming from and going to in the application (i.e. the user flow) and so on. Keep rearranging, re-sequencing, re-sizing, and tweaking those controls until you get more of the desired actions. And, of course, think deeply about how the user is actually using your mobile application when they’re viewing and engaging with the data and content – make sure you’re new and existing not missing something obvious when designing your app.

For a deeper look at how some of the hottest companies are implementing data and content management design patterns ( and 50+ other patterns), feel free to check out the e-book Web UI Design Patterns 2014. Use what you need and scrap the rest – but make sure to tailor them to solve your own problems and, most importantly, those of your users.

The post A Deep Look at Data & Content Design Patterns appeared first on Speckyboy Web Design Magazine.

Speckyboy Web Design Magazine

Geometric Portraits by Allison Kunath: Re-imagining the human form through geometrical patterns and shapes

Geometric Portraits by Allison Kunath

by Chérmelle D. Edwards Allison Kunath, a Los Angeles-based visual artist and fashion designer, has developed a distinct style over the past few years, creating geometric portraits of people—such as…

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Cool Hunting

Interview: Tricia MacKenzie of Inter Space Lab: Mapping neural patterns of artists to open doors toward better treatment for psychiatric disorders

Interview: Tricia MacKenzie of Inter Space Lab

Our contemporary creative world is peppered with scientific and technological influences—exhibitions that feature stylized data mapping, molecular gastronomy, Maker Faire’s everlasting dedication to the nerdy artist—it’s truly a tradition that traces at least as far back as da Vinci. But how often…

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Cool Hunting

Mobile Devices and Responsive Design Patterns for a Successful Experience

You’re reading Mobile Devices and Responsive Design Patterns for a Successful Experience, originally posted on Designmodo. If you’ve enjoyed this post, be sure to follow on Twitter, Facebook, Google+!

Mobiles and Responsive Design: Patterns for a successful web experience

Responsive web design is no longer a subject for discussion when it comes to any kind of website development because it is a crucial step. As designers and developers, we have got to understand the importance of effective responsive design and its role in maintaining a great experience for end users. We have passed the time […]

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Exploring Social Design Patterns For the Web

Although many people are designing mobile products that are social in nature, few understand what that really means, how it works, or why it’s important.

While social features are becoming increasingly important for many reasons, they require careful thinking about the identities and respective communities impacted by them, and how the nature of the product changes with this kind of user interaction. For example, every social network you could possibly link to (i.e. for sharing purposes) is different and serves a different purpose for the users involved. And some information may be really sensitive (i.e. bank information, personally identifiable information, or users may want privacy so they can’t be viewed or contacted by certain people or anyone. These are just some considerations, but the list is virtually endless as mobile applications incorporate more designs around who we are as unique and social people.

In this article, we dive deep into 10 different UI patterns for social design. We’ve also previously delved into the importance of navigation design patterns, you should check that out as well.

An Overview of The Patterns

Here’s an overview of the design patterns we’ve detailed in this article:

  1. Achievements & Badges.
  2. Auto-Sharing.
  3. Activity Feeds.
  4. Friend Lists.
  5. Follow.
  6. Vote to Promote.
  7. Pay To Promote.
  8. Direct Messaging.
  9. Like.
  10. Find & Invite Friends.

1. Achievements & Badges


Example: Codecademy, Stackoverflow

Problem: The user wants incremental encouragement and a general sense of progress

Solution: Build gamification into the user’s interactions with the website. Apart from the regular user interactions like listening to a song or posting an update on a social network, many sites also want to encourage users to complete their profile information or interact more frequently with the app. In these cases it makes sense to provide some incentive to the user so that this extra step appeals to them.

Gamification is one of the most popular ways of doing this as it can be a great way of increasing user engagement. Gamification applies the mechanics that hook gamers in order to make the users more engaged on the site. A gamified app is characterized by rewards the user receives as they move through different stages of the “game”. For example users of Codecademy receive points and badges as they complete different tutorials. Stackoverflow and Quora implement the same and provide users with points that can be used to unlock additional features like asking targeted questions or contributing to protected questions.

2. Auto-Sharing


Example: Quora, Vimeo

Problem: The user wants to easily share their activity with their social networks.

Solution: Build an option that lets users automatically share particular interactions with their social networks. A lot of web apps like Tumblr, Spotify and Vimeo are building granular sharing settings which allow users to automatically post updates to their networks based on their activity. These updates can be posted within the app or even shared with external social channels like Facebook or Twitter.

Not only does this help the user engage with their friends and family in everyday activities like listening to a song or reading an article on an external website, its also a great way to build awareness and engagement with the app itself. For interactions like uploading a photo to Carousel or a video to Vimeo, this pattern makes it even easier for users by eliminating an extra step in the process which they are most likely going to take regardless.

3. Activity Feeds


Example: Medium, Vimeo

Problem: The user wants to keep up with what’s happening around them and get quick updates on recent activity.

Solution: Show recent activity that’s relevant to the user within the app. Aside from the obvious Facebook or Twitter news feeds, other web apps that contain an element of social interaction, like Quora or Medium have implemented activity feeds that provide users with an overview of recent activity from their friends or people they follow.

The activity stream can be used to aggregate recent actions by an individual user, commonly used on profile pages; more commonly however, activity feeds are used to aggregate multiple users from the perspective of one user. These feeds are extremely useful in demonstrating different features of the UI by showing how other users are interacting with it, and this also plays a great word-of-mouth role.

4. Friend Lists

Goodreads, Spotify

Example: Goodreads

Problem: The user wants to keep track of and engage a subset of their friends on the site.

Solution: Show all the user’s connections or friends in a list. Spotify and Airbnb are part of the growing number of web apps that give you friend lists which can be used to help users engage with the app in a better way by keeping up with how people they know are using the app. Combined with the Follow pattern, which we discuss next, a friend list gives users an easy way to keep track of this information, which comes in handy to give some social proof to content that the users are interacting with.

Friend lists also come in handy when the users want to control who they share with. Whether it’s one-on-one communication or keeping track of someone’s tastes and preferences, the way users explore their blossoming friend groups will become increasingly contextual, requiring friends to become a more integral part of the content-consumption experience.

5. Follow


Example: Google+, Pinterest

Problem: The user wants to track and keep up to date with activity on topics or themes, not just people.

Solution: Let users select items that they want to stay up to date with. Aside from the purely social web apps like Twitter, Pinterest and Spotify, they let you select friends, channels or artists that you want to keep track of, and updates are shown in the user’s newsfeed. Whether you have friends or not, there’s endless user-generated content to keep you busy.

Users can gain access to a lot of varied content by “following” the activities and recommendations of other users and this pattern allows them to do so without having to worry about how many of their actual friends are using the app. Content shared with followers on sites like Google+ and Pinterest makes the content curation community possible and users can choose to follow topics, events, themes or even people to get fresh content built by and around the channel being followed. For the same reason friend lists will become an increasingly important UI design pattern, so will following.

6. Vote to Promote


Example: Medium, Reddit

Problem: The user wants to endorse and share content they like.

Solution: Let users participate in content curation by designing a voting system, where content they like can be promoted. The idea of crowd-sourced content curation was popularized by the likes of Digg and Reddit, and today we see almost every app that has user generated content integrate this pattern to bring up the best from the rest. On Reddit, Stackoverflow and Quora, users can vote on content created by other users. Not only does this create a history of what the user has upvoted or downvoted, it also gives users a way of popularizing content and publicly associate themselves with something they enjoyed.

7. Pay To Promote


Example: Quora, OKCupid

Problem: The user wants to highlight certain content above the regular content feed.

Solution: Let users pay to to promote their content. On sites like Quora and Facebook, users can give their posts a boost by paying a certain amount that gives them greater visibility in the content feed above the regular non-paid content. OKCupid allows users to give their profile a boost in views and LinkedIn does the same albeit as part of the paid membership plan rather than by individual content like in Facebook. As discussed in the e-book Web UI Design Patterns 2014, this form of native advertising can be a great way of allowing users to gain traction and greater visibility while maintaining the user’s experience in the platform.

8. Direct Messaging


Example: Spotify, Twitter

Problem: The user wants to send private messages to their friends from within the system.

Solution: Allow users to interact with each other in private messages alongside their other interactions. Instagram and many other web apps offer chat or direct messaging as an integral part of their experience. Private chat UI design patterns will continue to blossom across many web apps, not just traditional “social networks” now that users are finally comfortable sharing more private things online and they have substantial breadth in the content they’re generating online.

9. Like


Example: YouTube, Pinterest

Problem: The user wants to rate content in a simple way without having to worry about the degrees to which they like it.

Solution: Simplify rating controls by making them binary choices – the user either likes it or dislikes it. Eliminating the fine-grain of stars and rating scores, this makes rating things easier for users as well as interpreting them. If I liked a video, should I rate it 4 stars or go all the way with 5 stars? YouTube and almost every application lets you like (or even dislike) everything in a binary way instead. A lot of web apps provide a way of showing appreciation by simply “liking” or “hearting” content.

10. Find & Invite Friends


Example: Pinterest, Airbnb

Problem: The user wants to experience the application with their friends.

Solution: Make the invitation process simple and easy to complete. Since word-of-mouth and referrals are a huge driver of growth especially in consumer applications, you’ll see this UI design pattern proliferate and evolve even more. Providing users with a way of connecting with and sharing the app with friends also gives them a better, more immersive experience even if just in terms of more content. The invite feature can be built into the onboarding pattern or even as the empty state design, both of which we’ve covered earlier.

Let The User Socialize

Keep track of where your users might want or need to socialize, whether they ever view those features, how often they use them, where they’re coming from and going to in the application (i.e. the user flow) and so on. Keep rearranging, re-sequencing, re-sizing, and tweaking those controls until you get more of the desired actions. And, of course, think deeply about how the user is actually using your mobile application when they’re trying to socialize – make sure you’re not missing something obvious.

For a deeper look at how some of the hottest companies are implementing new and existing social design patterns as well as 50+ other patterns, feel free to check out the e-book Web UI Design Patterns 2014. Use what you need and scrap the rest – but make sure to tailor them to solve your own problems and, most importantly, those of your users.

The post Exploring Social Design Patterns For the Web appeared first on Speckyboy Web Design Magazine.

Speckyboy Web Design Magazine

The Importance of Navigation Design Patterns

In this article we discuss the importance of navigation design patterns using examples from some of the hottest websites and web apps.

Once someone starts using your website or web application, they need to know where to go and how to get there at any point. If they can’t navigate through your your application easily, you’ll quickly lose them. Thus, designing effective navigation in your web application is crucial.

An Overview of The Patterns

Here’s an overview of the design patterns we’ve detailed in this article:

  1. Jump to Section
  2. Single-Page Web Apps
  3. Recommendations
  4. Related Content
  5. Next Steps
  6. History / Recently Viewed
  7. Featured Content
  8. Infinite Scroll
  9. Walkthroughs & Coach Marks
  10. Overflow Menus
  11. Morphing Controls
  12. “Sticky” Fixed Navigation
  13. Vertical Navigation
  14. Popovers
  15. Slideouts, Sidebars & Drawers
  16. Links to Everything

1. Jump to Section

Pinterest Jump to Section

Example: Pinterest.

Problem: The user wants to jump through whole sections of a web app or content quickly.

Solution: Create a shortcut button or hot spot that takes users directly to a certain part of a web app, typically at the beginning or end but more commonly other specific points.

For example, users can click a tab or button to scroll to the top of the page from wherever they are. This comes in handy especially if you’re also implementing the Infinite Scroll pattern (see below) and the page can get really long as new content is loaded one after the other.

If users want to access controls or information that is only visible at the top of the page, returning there after several pages worth of scrolling can be a nightmare. Pinterest solves this user headache by showing an unobtrusive “jump-to-top” button that instantly scrolls the user back.

2. Single-Page Web Apps

Single-Page Web Apps Gmail

Example: Gmail.

Problem: The user wants a central place to view or take actions on most or all content so they don’t have to waste time navigating between pages.

Solution: Use modern web development techniques to build a single-page app that doesn’t need to reload itself as the user browses through it. This pattern is more of a complete restructuring of how the web works rather than something you can hack into your app afterwards. In a way, the “page in a single-page app isn’t really a page in the traditional web sense, rather it’s more of a particular data view. Single-page web apps load asynchronously (using AJAX), in that they perform instantly without the user having to wait for separate pages to load between operations.

Gmail is a good example of a single-page app that integrates multiple actions into a single “page”. The trend of single-page designs is a less-hardcore implementation of this UI pattern, where all content can be accessed on the same page. This makes browsing much faster and responsive, blurring the line between desktop and web apps.

For web apps like Spotify, the single-page app pattern becomes essential when you consider that the user might play music in the background but also browse through more music at the same time; having a single-page app eliminates the need for a page reload, so the music can keep playing.

One consideration you’ll need to make when implementing a single-page app is the URL structure. Because content is loaded dynamically using JavaScript, URLs can become useless and accessing a particular view can become impossible if not done right. Web apps like Gmail and Twitter overcome this by explicitly generating unique URLs for each view, which also solves the problem of the browser’s Back button becoming unusable.

3. Recommendations

Recommendations Spotify and Medium

Example: Spotify.

Problem: The user wants to know which content to view.

Solution: Show content suggestions and recommendations at various points to help the user browse through your content. Using the information from the user’s profile preferences or their past interactions in the app, Facebook, Eventbrite, Spotify and Yelp among many others generate tailored recommendations for their users to help them discover new and related content or connections.

These recommendations can come in the form of “popular” or “recently posted” items. Facebook provides “related” pages based on the user’s interactions with posts in their timeline as well as a more dedicated recommendations section where users can discover new pages and people to follow. The stream of content available to users can be endless especially in social web apps that feature user-generated content. As discussed in Web UI Design Patterns 2014, providing a robust recommendations engine in the UI can be a great way to help them discover new content.

4. Related Content

Related Content New York Times and Airbnb

Example: New York Times.

Problem: The user wants to browse similar content if the current content isn’t exactly what they’re looking for or they simply want more.

Solution: Show similar or related content to help the user find more items that are similar to what they’re currently viewing. Like Recommendations (above), this is becoming an essential UI pattern for web apps that feature user-generated content, except rather than tailoring the suggestions based on the user’s preferences or previous activity, Related Content is more about showing related items based on the way they are categorized and tagged.

Amazon, TIME and New York Times are good examples of sites that show items and stories similar to the one currently being viewed. Medium takes this a step further by allowing readers to suggest related content by adding a link to the article’s Further Reading section.

5. Next Steps

Quora and LinkedIn Next Steps

Example: Quora.

Problem: The user wants to know what next steps to take after finishing a task.

Solution: Give the user a clear list of next steps that they can follow to enrich their experience. Quora for example creates a to-do list for users to follow to complete their profile. LinkedIn does the same by showing a list of sections the user can add to their profile, pairing it with the Completeness Meter pattern to provide users with an incentive.

Most complex web apps have multiple user flows, so providing users with a to-do list can be a great way of guiding them along. Another pattern this can be paired well with is Related Content; Medium does this well, by showing the teaser for another article when the user reaches the end of the current one. This keeps the user engaged and immersed in your UI.

6. History / Recently Viewed

History / Recently Viewed Amazon and Google Play Music

Example: Amazon.

Problem: The user wants to recall what they interacted with last.

Solution: Let users pick up activities where they last left off. For example, Amazon keeps track of the user’s browsing history and shows recently viewed items so that they can get back to them easily if need be. Many web apps also keep track of what the user has been doing and the Facebook Timeline is the ultimate example of this. Not only does a user’s Timeline record posts made and photos uploaded, it also logs interactions with other pages and 3rd-party web apps like Spotify in an interactive history that the user can refer back to whenever needed.

Google Play Music and Spotify keep track of recently played songs. This pattern helps users keep track of content they’ve interacted with and can also serve as a way of bookmarking things to do later.

Featured Content Airbnb and Etsy

Example: Airbnb.

Problem: The user wants to know what kind of content can be created with the app.

Solution: Feature specific content front-and-center for users without it getting lost in the mix of often time-related content. This content could be paid, popular, new, or some other important variable.

Featured content serves to show users the possibilities and helps them understand what the platform can accomplish as well as the things other users are using it for. Sites like Airbnb, Etsy and Flickr show random content on the front page that helps users explore the site without having to make a commitment beforehand, as well as encourages existing users by helping them reach greater audiences.

On the other hand, it can also help particular pieces of content gain traction by giving it particular importance. Paid or “featured” content can be marked as such to clarify expectations.

8. Infinite Scroll

Infinite Scroll Pinterest and Facebook

Example: Pinterest.

Problem: The user wants to browse through all content.

Solution: Automatically load the next set or page of content when the user reaches the bottom of the current page, creating the effect of an infinite scrolling page. This way new content is automatically loaded and the user does not have to wait after clicking on a “next page” link. Infinite scrolling works best when there is a lot of content to show, as with most social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr among others.

However while its great for browsing content, especially multimedia galleries, two basic problems are that users can become disoriented and lose their place. If they want to skip to a particular point or bookmark to come back later, infinite scroll can cause problems. Facebook works around this when browsing a Timeline by creating a pagination/infinite scroll hybrid that lets you jump to a particular month or year. Pinterest integrates the Scroll to Top pattern, with a small button that lets users jump back to the start of the page.

9. Walkthroughs & Coach Marks

Google+ and Slack Walkthroughs & Coach Marks

Example: Slack.

Problem: The user wants to know how to use the different features of the application.

Solution: Design a walkthrough or tutorial that demonstrates how each function works. A lot of web apps have begun using this technique to show users around when they first launch and there are two basic ways of doing this.

Some web apps, like Slack go the route of overlay instructions, highlighting important parts of the UI with “coach marks” to explain what they do. Slack takes things to the next level by integrating a chat bot that helps users set up their profile. This makes perfect sense given that Slack is a chat app, and the “Slackbot” walks the users through filling in their profile information like phone number and display name like a conversation.

Alternatively, Tumblr presents a walkthrough to help the user get acquainted. This walkthrough is also a great time to collect important information that goes beyond simple registrations, much like a setup wizard. The importance of this pattern cannot be stressed enough for any application that isn’t immediately intuitive because the more a user knows about your product, the more reasons they’ll have to come back.

10. Overflow Menus

Facebook and Spotify

Example: Spotify.

Problem: The user want quick access to additional options or actions they can perform.

Solution: Hide extra options and buttons in an expandable menu so that they don’t clutter the main interface. Both Facebook and Google use “overflow menus” to maintain very clean user interfaces on their web apps by hiding the most important secondary options in an expandable menu.

This can also be used to show the most important actions in terms of engagement. For example Pinterest keeps a share on Facebook button visible to help speed up a common and desirable user action on each “pin”. Alternatively, an overflow menu can be used to contain additional menu items or actions as they are incrementally added to the UI.

11. Morphing Controls

Pinterest Morphing Controls

Example: Pinterest.

Problem: The user wants to perform different types of actions, but there’s limited screen real estate to show all these controls.

Solution: Replace buttons and on-screen controls with alternative functionality. Depending on what the user is currently doing, the UI could entirely replace an element with another, e.g. “do” and “undo” or “add” and “delete.” This makes sense when the alternating actions are related in some way. Pinterest and Facebook use the same button for “like”/”unlike” to save space and also indicate the current state to the user. This UI design pattern saves real estate, makes undoing any action quick and clean, and is an overall playful solution.

12. “Sticky” Fixed Navigation

Example: Houzz.

Sticky Fixed Navigation Houzz

Problem: The user wants to have access to the menus anytime while on the web page.

Solution: The top, side, or bottom navigation stays in place while a page is scrolled. In some cases, headings from sub-sections may also become fixed while scrolling and replace or be appended to the existing fixed navigation.

The main navigation bar for both Google+ and Pinterest sticks to the top of the page, allowing users to quickly access those menu items and filters whenever they need to. When paired with the Infinite Scroll pattern, a sticky navigation menu can be a great convenience for users who scroll past more than the first page’s worth of content.

13. Vertical Navigation

Vertical Navigation Spotify

Example: Spotify.

Problem: The user needs a way to navigate between different sections of the app, but there’s limited space to show this information.

Solution: Important sections of the UI can be presented in a list, which the user can scroll through to get what they want. This also leaves the header and footer of the UI free for more “universal” navigation, such as action bars. Traditionally, most navigation patterns have been horizontal in the form of tabs or buttons. The vertical navigation pattern has emerged as a significant evolution to navigational design to deal with user-generated content like user timelines and infinite scrolling content.

14. Popovers

Popovers Facebook and Pinterest

Example: Facebook.

Problem: The user wants to view relevant information without losing their current place in the UI.

Solution: Show important notifications and additional information in popovers. This UI pattern has the advantage of providing a lightweight and straightforward way of viewing additional information or taking a particular action, but they do so without pulling the user out of their current activity.

Pinterest and Fitocracy use modal popovers for quick actions, and Facebook uses popovers to quickly show snippets of content from the Activity Bar. The popover UI pattern is important for actions like these because they are being performed on the data and this way users always know what these controls apply to.

With the content still visible in the background, the user can tweak sorting options or change the font size without having to go back and forth between the views – it all happens right there. Popovers and modal windows can also be used to display important notifications or notices where it’s essential to get the user’s attention because dismissing them requires a tap or swipe.

15. Slideouts, Sidebars & Drawers

New York Times Slideouts, Sidebars & Drawers

Example: New York Times.

Problem: The user needs a way to navigate between different sections of the app without being distracted in each individual section.

Solution: A secondary section of the application – such as navigation, chat, settings, user profiles, etc. – is tucked away in a collapsible panel hidden under the main section when it is not needed. When accessed, it usually either moves the main section aside or slides over it. Since the slideout is in a separate layer from the main content in the application, there’s a lot of flexibility in terms of how content can be laid out inside the drawer – icons, text, and even simple controls are viable options to provide quick access to important actions here.

Often times, the drawer can be hidden under a “hamburger menu” or a simple arrow that indicates there’s more content there. It’s an easy way to hide all the less important things in a “side drawer” so that you only have to focus on how to distill the most important information in each view. Examples can be found everywhere. Asana, Spotify (search box), and Facebook (chat boxes). Some more specific examples include Houzz, which has a sub-navigation drawer that disappears as you scroll down and reappears back at the top; and the New York Times, which hides a side drawer that appears on the left when the user clicks the ‘sections’ button at the top left side of the page. As you scroll down in Pinterest, an up-arrow button appears for easy navigation back to the top, and in its ‘How It Works’ page.

Links to Everything Asana

Example: Asana.

Problem: The user needs a consistent way of navigating through content without being distracted by additional content.

Solution: Most or all user content within the app is linked, giving users the freedom to explore and find the exact information they’re looking for without hitting dead-ends or being distracted by a litany of hyperlinked text, additional buttons, calls to action, etc. that you would normally see on a website. If they want to interact with a piece of content in the app, odds are that they can tap on it and go to a new view for a more detailed experience.

Content-heavy web apps like Asana and Spotify let users explore all kinds of content by clicking on it, for example clicking on an artist or user takes you to their profile, items can be clicked on, table heads can be clicked on to sort and many other actions.

Let The User Navigate

Keep track of where your users are supposed to navigate, whether they ever view the navigation elements, how often they navigate to certain areas of the application, where they’re coming from and going to in the application (i.e. the user flow) and so on. Keep rearranging, re-sequencing, re-sizing, and tweaking those navigation elements until you get more of the desired actions. And, of course, think deeply about how the user is actually using your mobile application when they’re trying to get to certain parts of the application – make sure you’re not missing something obvious.

For a deeper look at how some of the hottest companies are implementing new and existing navigation design patterns as well as 50+ other patterns, check out UXPin’s e-book, Web UI Design Patterns 2014. Use what you need and scrap the rest – but make sure to tailor them to solve your own problems and, most importantly, those of your users.

The post The Importance of Navigation Design Patterns appeared first on Speckyboy Web Design Magazine.

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