Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Using Anti-Patterns in Your Design

It is amazing to watch Flamenco dancers use patterns and anti-patterns while performing in the caves in Granada. This popular dance of Andalusia region in Spain is mainly based on footwork and storytelling (just like the Indian classical dance, Kathak).

Flamenco is also accompanied by handclapping and guitar. The rhythmic beats usually follows this pattern, the bold font being the strong beat (louder hand clap or stamping feet) -

1    2    3    4   5   6    7    8    9    10    11    12

However, they also follow the off-beat to change the regular pattern to make it livelier. The off-beat could be stressing on the weak beats instead of the regularly accented beat. There are also stops in tapping and sudden increase in the speed of the beats which follows the music.

This pattern of Anti-pattern is very useful in design, if used in limited situations. It is mainly useful for these reasons:

To Create Delight: This is needed to break the monotony in the design. Usually, there are a lot of guidelines for displaying logos and logos are one element which cannot be changed frequently. But Dopplr's logo (Dopplr.com) changes colors based on user’s travel. Also, in Dopplr, the consumers own the brand and not the company. By itself the logo is has 6 color filled squares lined up horizontally. But, the logo colors changes for each member of dopplr, depending on their travels.

Dopplr’s logo becomes user’s logo, reflecting what user is doing and is different for each user. Very similar to Flamenco's vocal music which does not follow a set pattern but ensures it falls in the overall framework.
This anti-pattern is not just delightful but also informative.

Better Marketing: The iPhone does not have any logo in front of the phone unlike it's competitors. This does help in marketing the product for people in the front , similar to how the person sitting opposite to the MacBook Pro sees the glowing logo.

Certain applications prefer to be complex for security reasons. The pattern of displaying the exact location of error, why it occurred and how it can be rectified is often the rule. But on login screens, usually the error messages do not specify whether the error was on login field or password field, to avoid providing a hint to hackers.

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