Pondering design and reusability

At Coko, we are thinking through design and reuse. IMHO the world of software needs better design – design that is lead by creative inspiration, and not by UX best practices. It is not to say that these things are mutually exclusive, you can have both, but I like design that surprises, that doesn’t look like anything else…. that is beautiful and enticing… Design led by UX best practices tends to come out boring, evenly spaced, clean – like a cubicle. This was one of my frustrations with Booktype after I left the project. Putting design first is also one of the things I love most about Editoria.

So, what happens when you take this approach to software design (I am refraining from using the term ‘UX’ here as this doesn’t quite cut it) and yet there is a need to build for multiple systems at once. Which is the situation we are in. We are rapidly supporting a growing number of platforms built on top of PubSweet (more news of all this coming soon). To make life easier for those wishing to build on top of PubSweet, we have decided to break the pubsweet-components (eg dashboard, bookbuilder, submission screen) down into multiple ‘sub-components’ (eg. submission button, book list, submission questions etc).

But how to do that while upholding a high value for bespoke design?

I am wondering about the tension between custom design and reusable design. Where they touch is the area we are just now starting to operate in.

My initial thoughts, unravelling here as I write this! are that we do two things:

  1. when we design systems, we do only bespoke design
  2. we break the parts down that we think others may use after (1)

In a way, that means we are probably creating more work for ourselves (!) and lessening the work for others… but sometimes that is what community is about…

Still pondering…

Some articles I’m reading on the subject:

  1. https://uxdesign.cc/atomic-design-creativity-28ef74d71bc6 (many thanks to Brian Muenzenmeyer who maintains patternlab node for this recommendation)
  2. https://medium.com/ruxers/dont-mistake-common-ui-patterns-for-best-practices-4a1c8d4bef9a (thanks to Julien Taquet for the recommendation)
  3. https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2016/07/building-maintaining-atomic-design-systems-pattern-lab/
  4. https://css-tricks.com/video-screencasts/149-quick-intro-pattern-lab-node-brian-muenzenmeyer/ (video)
  5. http://atomicdesign.bradfrost.com/
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