Familiar Patterns for New Ideas

For delivering new ideas look to old ones.

Familiar Patterns for New Ideas

As January begins, millions of people have once again returned from the mass holiday migration.

People everywhere were asking for WiFi passwords while also being roped into providing impromptu IT support setting up new devices. I helped connect my parents to Netflix. This was a pretty easy task despite the fact that I’ve never actually used Netflix. I’m not necessarily smarter than my parents, I just have years of familiarity with the UX patterns Netflix uses. From the log-in screen that resembles old school video game password entry screens to the entertainment category drill down menus whose interaction model is found in probably every computer, these aren’t new ideas.

Part of the key to successful new ideas is to present them with the familiarity of ideas we already accept. Famed design legend Raymond Loewy was preaching this idea decades ago. Netflix’s new idea is delivering entertainment to you at home. The method in which they do it is made as simple & familiar as possible.

As you look to package & present new ideas this year borrow from the world around you. Your new idea should be what people focus on, not the delivery method. People should spend less time focused on the user interface and more time on the content. As Steve Jobs liked to quote Pablo Picasso “good artists copy, great artists steal.” There is no sense in reinventing the wheel - use existing interaction patterns from the design vernacular to solve common problems. Look to popular websites for navigation & layout ideas as those ideas have already been consumed and are familiar to most people. Take existing ideas and synthesize them into something new yet familiar. Your applications should be as familiar as possible while delivering your new ideas.

Looking back on existing #UX patterns is a great way to inform your new design ideas.


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