My good friend Jon Aizlewood recently wrote about his approach to keeping ontop of design patterns that emerge during an agile, or sprint based design process for a project on his blog http://jonaizlewood.com/articles/visual-inventories-for-agile-design.
In the years that I was at Clearleft, I got to work with Jon the most. As with any collaboration, after a few projects we really found a rhythm, and shared with one another our approaches and methods. Jon’s technique in Sketch at first seemed like insanity with this giant canvas and loads of things sprawled across it, however as he mentions in his post if you scroll out you get this incredible 30,000ft view of the design construct, very much like looking at a teardown photo or unboxing that have become so popular in recent years.
As the part of the duo that focussed mainly on the content aspect; and order of the structure, I was really there to provide Jon with real content that he needed to stress test his design language. This ability to zoom in and out of the page types and having this scratch pad of emerging patterns and where they currently appear meant much faster development of new page & content types as we progressed because I had this option to zoom out, and search for whether we have tackled a similar problem in a previous sprint and whether it can be either re-used, or extended.
Find a base and extend it’s use
This idea of extension becomes much easier to sketch out in rough once you have an understanding of what the base component can be. There’s nothing in my portfolio I can use to illustrate this, however if you were to look at penguinrandomhouse.co.uk You’ll see that Jon and I developed this idea of a card based system for housing certain types of information. This evolved over a number of sprints by being able to look at the content pattern and then add to it new data, this is how you go from a person card, to a building card, to a book card. The core design principle for housing this data is ultimately the same, but we’re extending it to include a new data attribute.
Without the ability to look at all the patterns that are emerging within each sprint and viewing each page type this not only could have taken longer, but we may have exhausted time developing design patterns which we thought were unique when they were in fact just an extension of an existing one.