Patterns are a basic idea with a complex range of implementations in modern web design. A pattern is a repeating symbol or shape over a set field. We know patterns as polka dots, checks, and essentially repeating design you can imagine. Patterns can create a sense of order or artistic flourish in an otherwise blank space, and they can do a lot to highlight the content that they are backing.
In fashion, patterns can be subtle, or they can be bold, but they usually do not take away or hide from the cut of a piece of cloth, its folds, or the wearer themselves. That’s something to take into account with how they’re used on websites as well.
Creating the Pattern
- By hand, through artistic software, including Photoshop, GIMP, and others. You get control over the colors and dimensions of these patterns, but you may also need to create several versions of a pattern that still need to flow together well when you’re designing responsive website images or backgrounds as well. The key is to create something that flows seamlessly, however it’s aligned on the page.
- By code, there are actually many ways to generate patterns based on mathematical formulas and data that can be entered into different types of software. Some programs make this incredible easy, including fractal pattern generators that will create repeating patterns based on random strings of information, while others can actually take information and display it in a sort of info-graphic style display. Want to make an artistic show of how much profitability has gone up over the years? It’s actually possible to do so through a background pattern, and with the right coding experience and design tools, that information can even update based on user interaction.
One of the important things to note here is that patterns actually can go hand in hand with responsive, animated user interfaces, which themselves are a discipline that you would need experience. The integration of these two ideas can create for some really unique website presentations that users will both understand and be impressed by.
Not Always Repeating
Finally, a pattern doesn’t always need to repeat itself to be considered a pattern. Some patterns can repeat certain scales or containers, including grid-style patterns that contain links and images of a website that lead to other content, while others may be patterns based on expanding or shrinking versions of an image.
With the rise of flat design, and the newer Material Design aesthetic that Google is promoting, there are even more opportunities to take advantage of the idea of “paper” on the workspace, to create some outstanding shapes and interactions that can catch users off guard with just how realistic they look on the screen. Patterns can be used to create visual depth, to add layering and character to a website, or even to mimic a “homemade,” crafty look that is perfect for small online retailers and landing pages for bigger companies alike.