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Design Patterns


A design pattern is a proven design solution to a common design problem documented in a standard format. Design patterns support design by providing:

  • A shorthand way and common language for referring to common design problem/solution pairs
  • A means to initiate novices to the profession
  • A means for experienced professionals to record and share their insights
  • A means for a profession to build a repository of knowledge and encourage reuse of best practices.

Examples of widely used Web design patterns include:

  • Shopping cart: a solution for temporary storage of selected items on a site
  • Double tab: a navigation pattern that shows the two topmost levels of a site
  • Bread crumbs: a solution that shows users where they are in a hierarchical structure of the site (van Welie, 2005).

A typical design pattern is one half to two pages long and consists of sections such as:

  • A statement of the problem the design pattern addresses
  • A description of situations where the application of this pattern is appropriate
  • A detailed description of the solution
  • One or more examples of designs that illustrate the pattern


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