UX: Harmonizing through Patterns

Hi readers! This summer I’ve had the awesome opportunity to do some work in user experience design. I began this summer with a limited knowledge of UX and the principles behind it. However, I have picked up a whole list of new tricks and approaches toward UX. 

I learned that one of the most interesting, and most easily overlooked, aspects of UX is the establishment of patterns and the effect those patterns have on the overall look and feel of a mobile app/website. It makes sense when you think about it. Perhaps I establish a certain color scheme, or specific signifiers. When my user interacts with the app, he/she learns to expect these patterns.

By way of example, let’s say that I’m designing an app for purchasing clothing online. In order to organize my content, I break my products down into categories, such as shirts, shoes, hats, etc. I decide to display these categories vertically down the home page, allowing the user to scroll down the list and view all of the categories. This establishes a pattern and creates an expectation in the user’s mind as to how they should navigate my app. Now, let’s say that the user decides to look at hats. When I design the hats page, I choose to create another set of categories for different types of hats: cowboy hats, beanies, bowler hats, etc. But this time, I place that list of categories in a side menu. Because the user isn’t expecting this change, he/she is left confused and potentially frustrated. The problem is that I established a pattern and broke it.  

Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but the patterns that I establish define the style and functionality of my app, as well as its professionalism and trustworthiness. Anytime I break a pattern, I’m slowing chipping away at my user’s trust and overall good opinion of my app.

This isn’t to say that I can never alter a pattern. There can be times when a change is necessary or inevitable, but even those changes should reflect the established patterns as closely as possible. Everything I create within one app or website needs to be in harmony. I like the description of UX as a form of harmonizing. Not everything in my app or website will be identical, and the functionality of different portions may require a slightly different approach. But in the end, every aspect (every menu, every page) must look, feel, and function as one cohesive unit.

This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt, Harmonize

The featured photo above was taken by Kari Shea at unsplash.com.

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