What are design patterns and why use them?

  • Solution
  • Environment

A little bit of history…

In 1994 the book “Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software” was published. This publication started the concept of design pattern in software development. All four authors, Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson and John Vlissides, were named the GoF — Gang of Four. Within tech circles it’s usual to see the nickname GoF and, even though the book was published over 20 years ago, it still remains a best seller on Amazon.

What are design patterns?

Design patterns had their genesis in the nineties decade, thanks to the publishing of the book we mentioned earlier, and since then they were widely accepted in the software development field, from companies all the way to academic institutions.

  • It must be reusable, which means that it is applicable to different design problems in different circumstances.

Design pattern examples

Some years ago, when responsive design gained significance, designers were talking about a design pattern regarding the “Back to Top” button. Even Nielsen Norman themselves wrote an article with nine guidelines to develop and properly integrate this button in our design solutions.

Essential design pattern elements

A design pattern has four cornerstone elements:

  1. Problem: Describes when we can use the pattern, explains the problem and its context.
  2. Solution: Describes the elements that constitute the design, its relations, responsibilities and collaborations. Solution does not describe a specific design or implementation, but it provides a template that can be used for many different solutions.
  3. Consequences: These are the results, and also the advantages and inconveniences of applying the pattern.

What do design patterns aim to achieve?

It is vital to understand that design patterns were not born to impose some alternatives over others or to delete the creativity inherent in the design process itself.



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Torresburriel Estudio

Torresburriel Estudio

User Experience & User Research agency focused on services and digital products. Proud member of @UXalliance