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3 detailed ways to optimize your site with a pattern library

by Casey Schmidt  |  October 25, 2019

3 min. read
A group of illustrated books.

Implementing a pattern library changes the aesthetic consistency of a professional site. Here are three key ideas to understand when using a pattern library.

What is a pattern library?

A pattern library is a complete list of details explaining how design elements appear on a site. It is essentially a blueprint for user interface design elements. The visual makeup of a site consists of different design elements, which are determined by the pattern library.

A good example of a pattern library is a movie. Every movie is made up of different elements, such as scenery, location, lines, props and time of day. These elements are documented in the script. The script holds the layout of all the things that makeup the movie. In order to know how a movie will look on the screen, the script needs to be consulted. A pattern library is like the script of a website’s appearance. The things like lines, props and scenery are the design elements.

Two male and one female worker using different computers for graphics.
Pattern Libraries are similar to a movie script in that they instruct projects.

Centralize your pattern library

Centralizing your pattern library is a huge benefit to web designers and other team members helping with site construction. This helps maintain consistency and cuts down on extra time spent. It creates shared libraries for entire teams to access and draw elements from. With a central pattern library, any newly created logos or other design is shared with everyone involved. It can be used for all projects thereafter as well.

The benefits of a central pattern library are best seen in a scenario where a team member creates a dynamic new colored font that works great on the current site. Before a central library is implemented, this font wouldn’t be available to everyone. In fact, it might have to be recreated by other departments. The central library ensures everyone can use it and the site can maintain solidarity of font color.

Two female workers going over graphic designs next to a laptop.
Centralize your library pattern to keep everyone current and on the same page.

Make your pattern library more accessible

In order to have your entire company use a pattern library, from one department to the next, it needs to be extremely functional and accessible for all skill levels. There are a lot of different ways to accomplish this. The first way is to implement systems that make decisions for team members more basic. For example, if they’re choosing to build a design from templates rather than using complex coding, things are likely to work out better throughout a project.

Another way to make it more accessible is to be able to choose specific applications and features of the pattern library. This way they would narrow their choices down to things they are familiar with or projects they’re currently involved in. For example, say they chose ‘medical supplies’ then chose ‘business agreements’ then selected a component from this subsection such as ‘credit card authentication’. They could then be given a visual representation of this and an outline of this path they took on the website.

A young man researches images and design on a PC.
Create accessibility with your library pattern.

Ensure consistent site design using pattern library

As a site grows, its pages gain additions and its subpages develop. With new additions and subpages comes the potential for aesthetic errors. A site needs consistency from page to page to uphold a professional appearance. This is usually from different departments being put in charge of adding different pieces of the site.

A pattern library rectifies this issue by allowing companies to copy all design elements of a page and easily input it into any newly created parts of the site. Any time a user adds something to the original site, it will retain a consistent pattern of elements.

To further simplify this issue and increase the potential of your pattern library, implement a digital asset management system. This helps teams by storing things like visual element files, logo files and other media in a central location. It boosts team communication throughout site-building processes as well.

Solidify the professionalism of your site with a pattern library. It keeps your design elements consistent and organized.