A pattern hunter’s work is never done

Welcome to Deep Background.

When I set out to rewrite Designing Interfaces, I expected it to be easy. I would go through the patterns one by one, assuring myself of their enduring value (or lack thereof). I would go forth onto the web and find new examples of those patterns in the wild. I would update the look of the whole book, both with a new layout and those new examples. It wouldn’t take long!


It took over a year. What I discovered, of course, is that the web held plenty of new patterns begging to be written down. Some of those made it into the new edition. Others didn’t, simply because I couldn’t fit them into the ever-growing manuscript in a way that made sense. (I wrote an entire chapter about behavioral patterns in online communities, for instance. It was cut. Didn’t quite fit the book’s purpose.) Oh, and there was also a chapter on help patterns that never got written at all!

Meanwhile, the more time I spend working on real-life websites, the more new patterns and new examples I see. And I have more to say about how the existing patterns interrelate — how a designer should choose among alternative solutions, for instance.

Finally, the book makes it really clear that it’s not about implementation at all. That’s as it should be for a book like that: it’s about the enduring design ideas, not the particulars of CSS or Javascript that one should use to implement them. Those particulars may change every time a major browser or spec is released. Now, the book doesn’t change fast at all — once every five years, apparently. But a blog’s rate of change is far faster. So I may talk here about implementation techniques that I use for some well-known patterns.

Here’s my plan for the foreseeable future of Deep Background:

  • Behind-the-scenes explanations of the second-edition patterns
  • New patterns, and ideas for possible new ones
  • Pattern instantiations seen “in the wild”
  • Deeper explanations of how to choose among patterns and techniques
  • Implementation options
  • General nattering on about user experience design issues

What else would you like to see?