The problem with patterns

Feb 1 2022 | Blog


I am a big fan of patterns and prints, especially with lots of color. But just doing whatever you like everywhere is not always the right way to go. Design patterns, component libraries or even style guides have become the norm for organizations large and small. It gives designers familiarity and efficiency. This in turn frees up designers' time to focus on bigger problems. Like solving the needs of their users. In theory anyway.  The use of design patterns, no matter how complex it may be, should never stifle creativity or slow down design progress. To achieve what they promise, they must be adaptable, flexible and scalable. A good design pattern is not dependent on context and is unobtrusive.


But what is the problem, I hear you thinking? The most obvious abuses of patterns are easy to avoid with good documentation, but do patterns actually lead to better designed products and services? Having a library of design components can sometimes give the impression that all design work has been completed. Designers or developers can return to using a library like clip art to create off-the-shelf solutions. Projects are developing quickly.   While patterns help teams hesitate less and build things in less time, it's how and why a group of patterns and components are stitched together that results in a great design. Patterns can even cause harm without considering a user's context and the influence it can have on their decision-making process. Components and service patterns tend to meet the needs of the business or organization, not the user.