When it comes to design patterns, one saying to keep in mind is: “Don’t reinvent the wheel”. This suggests you avoid creating new solutions that don’t offer significant improvement to a problem when a known solution exists.
Here are two reasons why following patterns and design guidelines makes sense for your user and makes for better design.
1. “Keep it Simple” as a Best Practice
Any time conventions are broken, it takes more time for a user’s brain to process the new content. Designers need to take the limitations of human cognition into account, as well as the reality of limited working memory.
For example, consider commonly used icons on a mobile app. There are well established icons to communicate categories such as “search”, “bookmark”, “add”, etc. By using a non-standard icon, there is a risk that it will cause a user to take more time to process its meaning—causing frustration and delay, ultimately harming the overall experience.
Usability refers to how effectively and efficiently a task can be completed. By using learned conventions and patterns, a designer can set up an experience which eases the user journey by being familiar, using predictable patterns for common controls. This is particularly relevant if we’re talking about accessibility; users with visual impairments or other accessibility challenges will certainly benefit from familiarity with your product.
Imagine how your e-commerce experience would be if buttons like “search” and “pay” differed vastly on different websites? Designers shouldn’t feel restrained by such patterns and conventions, rather they should seek to make products that are inclusive to many kinds of users.