Sunday, August 20, 2006

Processes + Patterns = ?

You know I am a fan of design processes.
I am scheduled to moderate a panel on IA processes at EURO IA, and have published about UX processes for Web2.0 and the Standards for UX process StUX. Lately I've been thinking about an open source design process (which I wrote about in Dutch on our company blog).

I have also long been a fan of design patterns.
I recently moderated a panel on Patterns for Web2.0 at The Web and Beyond and can't promote Martijn van Welie's pattern collection enough. When I get the chance, I encourage's clients to format their corporate styleguide in the shape of a pattern collection, similar to what Yahoo! did with their styleguide.

Now, what do you get when you combine the two? What is the result of combining design processes with design patterns?

Here's why I am asking this. I am currently reading Stewart Brand's great book How Buildings Learn: What happens after they're built. In chapter 5, Magazine Architecture, on page 69 of my edition, he writes:
"architects Richard Bodane and his colleagues in the Offices of General Services...have developed a database on roof design and performance. The database tracks a growing number of the state's 10,000 buildings, recording variables of location, design conditions, specified components, testing results, and the history of problems and their solutions. By correlating design information with performance problems, the architects identify patterns of success and failure. How interesting it would be to go even deeper in the analysis: what were the organizational patterns associated with the roof successes and failures? Which arrangements can detect crucial errors and correct them, and which cannot? The answer to that question could affect all of architecture."

Let me highlight this bit: "what were the organizational patterns associated with [..] successes and failures?"
See what I mean? What if we could complement design pattern knowledge with knowledge about the design processes that support it? Could the result similarly affect all of design?

(Read more about this topic in the next post called Adding design process attributes to patterns)


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