40+ Helpful Resources On User Interface Design Patterns
By Jacob Gube
If there is a commonly reoccurring need for a particular solution, there is a great probability that someone has – by now – solved that need and has finished the legwork involved in researching and constructing something that resolves it. At the very least, you will find documentation on general solutions to related problems that will enable you to gain insight on best practices, effective techniques, and real-world examples on the thing you are creating.
A design pattern refers to a reusable and applicable solution to general real-world problems. For example, a solution for navigating around a website is site navigation (a list of links that point to different sections of the site), a solution for displaying content in a compact space are module tabs.
There are many ways to tackle a specific requirement – and as a designer – the most important thing you can do is selecting the option that best reflects the needs of your users.
In this article, we share with you the best of the best, cream of the crop sites, galleries, online publications, and libraries devoted to sharing information and exploring concepts pertaining to User Interface design patterns. Use these recommended sources to gain knowledge about a particular UI problem or to gain inspiration and insight on best practices, techniques, and examples of exemplary UI designs. Great thank-you goes to Pavel Konoplitski for providing us with related resources.
UI Design Patterns for Sites and Web Applications
UI-patterns.com is a large collection of design patterns for UI designers to gain inspiration from. The site allows users to keep sets of their own (publicly accessible to site visitors) so that you can see other UI design pattern collections.
Konigi highlights exemplary interaction design and visual design use in the real-world. There are plenty of ways to utilize, navigate, and find your desired content on the site, including a Tags page featuring popular keywords used in entries within the showcase split up into three categories: keyword, product, and company.
QUINCE: X Patterns Explorer
QUINCE is a beautiful and stunning web application that helps you explore an innumerable amount of user experience design patterns such as date pickers and two-panel selectors. The application requires the Silverlight plugin and is best viewed under Internet Explorer (though we have verified it to work well in Firefox and Safari).
Interaction Design Pattern Library
Welie.com has an interaction design pattern library maintained by Martijn van Welie, a Ph. D. graduate in Human Computer Interaction who now works as an Interaction Design Senior Consultant for Philips Design. The library features a ton of design patterns involving various site tasks such as navigating around a site, searching a site, and basic interactions such as slideshows. Each pattern follows a specific format: (1) the problem, (2) the solution, (3) when to use the pattern, (4) why you should use the design pattern, and (5) examples of the pattern in use.
Created and maintained by Matthew Smith and Chris Pollock, Pattern Tap is a gallery of popular web-based User Interface components and design patterns such as slideshows and breadcrumbs. Pattern Tap allows users to create their own sets, and they now have over 7,000 user sets. There’s plenty of inspiration to be gained at Pattern Tap.
This design gallery focuses on common web page components such as navigation as well as popular design trends such as Grid layouts. design|snips has over 30 categories so that you can easily find the design pattern/trend that you’re interested in. What’s more, users are allowed to rate each design featured in the gallery so that you can see what the overall consensus is with regards to the effectiveness and appeal of a design being shown.
Written by Experience Designer Jason Robb, UI Scraps is a weblog that catalogs, good, bad, and notable interface designs. Expect to find critiques of submission forms and praises for good designs and UI Scraps.
The UI Pattern Factory
The UI Pattern Factory is a UI design library and gallery. What’s great at UIPF is that they sometimes share videos in each entry to improve the description of design problems and solutions. Entries are further enhanced by user-submitted examples of the pattern, which they archive in their Flickr group: UIPatternFactory.com.
Yahoo! Design Pattern Library
The Yahoo! Design Pattern Library, maintained and presented by the Yahoo! Developer Network (YDN), shares design patterns to the web design and web development community. They also have a recently-launched forum where you can swap stories with fellow UI designers and discuss patterns showcased in the design pattern library.
StyleIgnite archives and displays the latest trends in web design. Hundreds of styles that are submitted by users are there for you to check out and gain inspiration from. What’s unique about StyleIgnite is that not only are they a gallery, but they also provide you with code snippets and assets to achieve the designs that you like.
blink design library
blink design library is a weblog-formatted design library that centers a post’s topic on a particular user interaction pattern with the aim of cataloging and exploring that subject. You will find topics and discussions on common interaction components such as buttons and web forms.
patternBrowser is a unique web application for browsing user interface design patterns on a variety of products including mobile devices. It is a great resource for quickly finding a ton of inspiration in a compact, well-organized, and very searchable manner.
Web Design Practices
Web Design Practices is a gallery of web design patterns such as breadcrumb navigation with very thoughtful and comprehensive write-ups on each design pattern, often including statistics and helpful resources about a particular website component.
Elements of Design
Elements of Design focuses on particular components of a web design such as login forms and site navigation in the hopes of inspiring designers, as well as to highlight prevalent patterns for typical website needs and features.
User Interface Engineering
User Interface Engineering is an organization on usability, web design, and information architecture. It is a great place for learning about effective design patterns for common UI problems. For example, you can learn about faceted search or previous and next actions in web forms.
CSSbake is a unique web design gallery that focuses on website components rather than the overall web design. For example, you can find showcases of good navigation or beautiful comment sections. CSSbake “focuses on the ingredients that make a site good” and is a great place to attain inspiration for common User Interface design patterns.
UI Patterns is a UI design library that follows a weblog format where each post is a design pattern and a showcase of it in use on a website or web application.
Functioning Form is the weblog of UI designer and author Luke Wroblewski. You can learn about designing for humans by reading through his insightful articles on the site and find useful lists such as a collection of resources on website buttons.
MephoBox is a design gallery that presents web design patterns and trends such as login forms and typography use with the aim of inspiring designers with their own work. Users can vote on designs and leave comments on them, allowing viewers to sort results by “most popular” and “most viewed” for quickly finding well-liked designs.
Designing Interfaces is a book format site for the book, “Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design” written by Jennifer Tidwell. In the site, you will find loads of design patterns and articles on interaction design. You’ll learn about topics such as organizing site content, soliciting actions and commands from users, and presenting complex data.
UIZEN is a collection of user interface designs that features real-world websites and web applications. The site serves as a useful reference for times when you are in need of effective design inspiration.
UXmatters is a web magazine dedicated to sharing information about the user experience. In the publication, you will find a ton of information on effective and usable design patterns and techniques regarding the design of interfaces centered around its users.
Boxes and Arrows
Boxes and Arrows is an online publication dedicated to the art and science of designs. In the site, you will find plenty of information regarding effective interaction designs such as how to get a web form’s structure right and designing for user-generated and social media based content. The tone and style of Boxes and Arrows is professional and academe-centric so articles usually leverage information from research and academic papers.
Niche and Specialized Design Pattern Resources
Design Patterns for Data Graphics
This resource deals with the discussion of useful design patterns for presenting data. You will find information and downloads on suggested diverging color themes (to easily distinguish related data sets between each other) and data resolution.
Patterns Of cooperative INTERaction
This web page shares information on cooperative (social/team-based) systems design patterns. Here, you will find resources and articles on topics such as multiple presentations of information and collaboration in small groups.
Information Design Patterns
There is an art and a science behind presenting information to users. This site discusses and shares information regarding effective and usable information and data structures.
What makes information and interfaces learnable? How can you present data so that users are able to absorb the content you are presenting? This visual gallery features effective design patterns that expose techniques for designing information with high-learnability.
Designing Social Interfaces
In this resource, you will find patterns for social and collaborative sites and applications. The site is a wiki-style site that allows for user-generated and user-edited content, and is a companion site for a book called “Designing Social Interfaces“. You will find insights on how to effectively present content and build features into your project that leverage the advantages of collective and shared knowledge.
Open Source Design Pattern Library
This resource features design patterns as it pertains to open source websites and applications. Users are able to submit their own pattern entries to share.
This resource deals with pattern languages in Human-Computer Interaction and user interface design. You can learn about common language patterns, tools used in the study of HCI, and additional useful news and information.
Common Ground is a documentation of a pattern language for Human-Computer Interaction design. You will find a lot of wonderful resources on HCI such as WYSIWYG Editor design patterns and presenting information to users using step-by-step instructions.
ecommr is a website showcase of the best (and worst) e-commerce site and web application designs. The site explores topics in e-commerce content presentation and user interface patterns that allow for a great user experience. They focus on entire site designs as well as specific components of an e-commerce website such as customer service landing pages and size charts.
Ajax Patterns is a wiki-style site discussing design patterns that apply the use of Ajax techniques. It is a massive resource for web application developers to gain insight on design patterns involving highly-responsive Rich-Internet Applications.
30 Essential Controls
This article is a discussion on design patterns involved in the creation of RIA’s. It talks about important user controls that application designers can take advantage of to clearly denote actions that they’re able to perform when interfacing with an application.
Design For Mobile
This site is dedicated to designing mobile applications and websites. The site is a wiki so the content is truly collaborative and user-edited. With mobile devices becoming very prevalent, the need for compatible and usable mobile systems grows, and this should be your first stop to learning more about this emerging field in web technology.
Wikis allow for shared collaboration and puts the responsibility of creating and maintaining the site’s content towards its users. This resource discusses effective design patterns for creating (or implementing) a user-friendly wiki.
Flickr Collections and Groups
Flickr is a wonderful and visual-based resource for learning and finding design patterns. In this section, we share with you some notable collections and groups to peruse for interaction design pattern research and inspiration.
This Flickr collection maintained by Chris Messina is a showcase of unique and interesting interfaces on the web. The collection is well-organized into sub-sets such as Drag and Drop interfaces and Calendar Views.
Design Patterns Group
In this Flickr Group, there are over 300 items that you can browse through to see interface design trends. With a membership of over 360 Flickr users, you’ll be sure to encounter fresh content on a regular basis.
Web Form Design: Filling In the Blanks
Maintained by Luke Wroblewski, this Flickr set is a collection of images pertaining to web form design. It is a handy and inspirational resource to have around for times when you are crafting highly-usable web forms.
namics UI Pattern Library
This public Flickr group consists of 9 Flickr members and is a group intended for capturing UI design pattern trends from the real-world.