UX Magazine

Defining and Informing the Complex Field of User Experience (UX)

Modular Web Design: Creating Reusable Components for User Experience Design and Documentation

July 4, 2009
Nathan Curtis

User experience design teams often suffer from a decentralized, blank canvas approach to creating and documenting a design solution for each new project. As teams repeatedly reinvent screen designs, inconsistency results, and IT teams scramble to pick up the pieces. Pattern libraries only go so far, suggesting general solutions to common problems instead of offering concrete, specific design treatments. At times, documented solutions turn into a costly mess of unclear expectations, unrealistic goals, and abandoned work.

Enter components, each of which represents a chunk of a Web page. Designers can produce wireframes, mockups, or markup far more efficiently reusing components based on an established design system. Rather than limit innovation, components enable designers to render solved design frameworks quickly and to focus on the problem at hand, drastically improving the quality and rate of production. In addition, teams develop a deeper baseline for collaboration, a platform for governance, and a structure for useful and predictable documentation.
 
This book defines the role of components and why they matter, maps out how to organize and build a component library, discusses how to use components in practice, and teaches a process for documenting and maintaining components.

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