Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Voices That Matter

Modular Web Design: Combine

This chapter will show you how to assemble components into page layouts, appreciate how components fit into variations of a single page as well as across the context of many different pages, take advantage of component relationships, including duplicates, bundles, and page shells, formulate page regions so that components can be more simply explained and consistently applied, and appreciate the relationship between components in layout and code.
This chapter is from the book

Up to now, there's been much talk of breaking pages apart, chunking them into component pieces. In the early phases of a design process, initial page designs suggest an array of components.

But once we've identified many chunks, it's time to use those components to construct pages. This chapter will address how to do the following:

  • Assemble components into page layouts.
  • Appreciate how components fit into variations of a single page as well as across the context of many different pages.
  • Take advantage of component relationships, including duplicates, bundles, and page shells.
  • Formulate page regions so that components can be more simply explained and consistently applied.
  • Appreciate the relationship between components in layout and code.

Assembling Pages

No matter the value of components, it is the page that is rendered in a browser. Each time the browser loads a page (or even a portion of a page), a user experiences the content and interactivity of a complete, aggregated view. Sure, the user's glance may home in on and bounce between chunks of interest. But that bounce is around a layout of all the pieces arranged together.

As components evolve, vary, and mature, they must be combined and arranged into the pages serving as the cohesive whole. With components in hand, a designer is better equipped to communicate design through a wider array of page variations. Now it is time to see and confirm what works and what doesn't. Combine components in meaningful layouts, relate chunks together, relate pages together in a flow, and get a feel for what's too complex, what's too simple, and what needs to be rethought from the ground up.

Once pages are divided into sets of independent components, they are generally reassembled with one of two goals: assemble a page based on a collection of components, or convey how a component appears and varies across pages.

A Page of Components

As one communicates a design, participants in design reviews often ask the question "OK, but how would an article appear under these other circumstances?" Even if a designer has created variations that address the display state of every component in question, it's too much to expect others to be able to see the page in their mind's eye. Instead, the designer must be prepared to render additional examples to reinforce the modular nature of the design and answer that question.

For example, an article page could use many different components depending on available content (Figure 4.1). Sure, every article includes body content and framing chunks not really related to the article itself (header, footer, sidebar). But many chunks can be optionally included: different types of article titles (in the upper left); inline media, such as photos and videos (in the upper right); and related articles and tasks.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 Numerous vital components that can be used modularly on an article page, but lack the context of use when they stand alone.

But outside the context of page layouts, so many questions go unanswered. Every article can be printed, shared, and emailed, but where does that widget go? Can the article be mapped to other related articles? If so, where would that list be placed? Can we position an inline video within the article? Where would a photo carousel go? Is that in the same place as the inline photo gallery? How would the article appear if it's part of a special event or ongoing series, like a blog?

To answer those questions, it's not enough to just design the components individually. We also need to recombine them in viable page layouts to depict applicable scenarios.

Figure 4.2 displays an article page in different circumstances and reinforces the use of all the components in concert. Notice how each article has a title, author, and key tasks, such as print and email. But the vertical location and relationship of those components varies relative to the inclusion or omission of other optional components.

Figure 4.2

Figure 4.2 Article pages of varying depth and component quantity.

Also implicit in the page layouts is the relative use of components. For example, you can establish the context of the article within a series by placing an additional component above the article title (see variation D, which includes a box above the page title). Additionally, you can clarify that an inline video, photo carousel, and photo gallery should not be used together; instead, you can choose one and only one to include in the upper right of the article body. Keep in mind that you cannot just rely on different pictures to convey these points; also include annotation to reinforce the distinctions.

A Component Across Pages

Additionally, a designer can communicate the range of component use through page variations that demonstrate a single component used in pages with different layout, purpose, or context. These displays reinforce what the designer may have already assumed, but stakeholders may not have realized: Components are indeed reusable!

Take the video player from the article page, with a few important states as shown in Figure 4.3. Sure, inline videos may be associated with an article as helpful, supplemental content. However, videos can be surfaced, played, and related to other content across many different page types.

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3 Variations of a video player, ready to be reused in different contexts.

Therefore, reinforce the video player's flexibility by including it in page layouts across the site. Pages highlighting products, telling a story, or supporting a how-to demonstration can have very distinct layouts (Figure 4.4). But the inline video player can easily be reused in each instance.

Figure 4.4

Figure 4.4 A mini video player reused in different page types: article page (on the left) and product features (on the right).

Such scenarios help designers show reuse and negotiate tradeoffs. At times, stakeholders push and push to embed features and displays that limit the component reuse in other contexts. Their goals are clear and justified, but such design decisions can cost an organization more in the long run. Which makes more sense: a team building distinct video players for each scenario, or reusing one common player that ends up meeting 90 percent of everyone's needs?

Additionally, page variations establish how flexibly a component can be repurposed to fit different user needs and page types. Pagination is a common component that displays what page you're on and how many pages there are, and enables navigation across each "page" of results (Figure 4.5). Here, a page may not be a browser page, but more a set of any object type, such as search results, photographs, blog entries, users, email, or events. Pagination requires many variations, including first page, last page, and pages in the middle when there are more or fewer page links than can be displayed at one time.

Figure 4.5

Figure 4.5 Standard variations of a typical pagination component that reveals current page, clarifies overall set quantity, and enables navigation across pages.

Ideally, pagination is consistent across an entire site design. The use of pagination may apply to an entire page's context or to a narrower and tighter single component (such as photographs).

This flexibility is evident in the range of pages where pagination can be used (Figure 4.6). Notice how the component is displayed both above and below search results on one page, but only at the base of a sortable table on another page. Each uses the same component, omitting a few elements here and there, and juxtaposing the summary of the page ("Results 11–20 of 55") on the left against the navigation across pages on the right. Showing pagination in each context is helpful in understanding its flexibility: Overall width depends on the container it sits within, and pieces can be included or omitted based on the designer's judgment.

Figure 4.6

Figure 4.6 A pagination component used in two contexts: search results and data tables.

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020