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

Home > Articles > Web Design & Development > Usability

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Common Combos

While pages are chunked into independent components, you may find that two (or more) adjacent components find themselves used together often. While each component may need to be divided, varied, and documented separately, it may often be positioned with others. That there is a perceived relationship isn't necessarily a bad thing. Even more, you'll want to arrange your design artifacts and reusable items to enable you to add common combinations quickly.

Duplicates

The most common case of combinations is duplicate component use. Here, a component is repeated numerous times vertically, horizontally, or even as a grid across a page.

Figure 4.7 displays a stack of frequently asked questions (FAQs), grouped into categories on a page dedicated to FAQs.

Figure 4.7

Figure 4.7 A frequently asked question and answer component, repeated once for every question.

Here, the FAQ component consists of two elements: question and answer. Each instance of the component is stacked down the page and includes some variations to communicate the use of bulleted and numbered lists. Communicating the structure of an FAQ is important, answering many questions: What can I include in an FAQ? How do I structure the content? How long can one be? But seeing the FAQs in layout depicts how they fit in the context of categories, anchor links, and other pieces of a page.

Similarly, suppose you were creating a high-level page that linked to a number of different product types, each featured in a separate but duplicate component (Figure 4.8). In this case, you'd repeat the component three times in the page layout. However, each instance adheres to the same guidelines: a general header, thumbnails and links for each item, exactly three features per component, etc. In this case, it may even help to include actual content in place of labels, such as [Product Types] and [Destination], if the rendered page needs to be more specific.

Figure 4.8

Figure 4.8 A string of feature collections across the body of the page.

Duplicates enable you to define the necessary states, behaviors, and editorial guidelines of a single instance without worrying about or trying to define exactly how many can go on a page. Avoid creating distinct variations for sets of three, four, five, and six instances of an entirely duplicated component. Instead, define it once and establish guidelines on quantity and layout arrangements.

Bundles

In other cases, instead of duplicating the same component, you may want to frequently use a component with one or more other components. A component bundle includes multiple, distinct components, such as a local navigation bar combined with promotions underneath, or a stack of components in a right rail. Such bundled use is often correlated with frequent creation of an individual page or suite of pages.

In the previous examples depicting variations of an article page, did you notice that the components in the right sidebar did not change? The display of those components—Contact Us, Sign In, and Downloads (Figure 4.9)—could be highly correlated and repeated across many pages, beyond just articles.

Figure 4.9

Figure 4.9 A component bundle reused frequently in a sidebar: Contact Us, Sign In, and Downloads.

Designers, stakeholders, and engineers will begin to notice such patterns, as will users who start to expect that they are always displayed together. However, clearly all three components have different purposes, different independent states (such as signed in versus not signed in), and may be reused elsewhere alone. So resist the urge to document the entire stack as a single component. Instead, note the correlation and describe when and why they should be used together.

Shells

Getting started on a new page design should be easy. Open a template, drop in the oft-reused header and footer, and then fill in the details of what makes a page unique.

Given that some of the first components you'll codify and prepare for reuse are the header, footer, and possibly local navigation, it may be worthwhile to create a composite "page shell" out of these items (Figure 4.10). That way, starting a new page doesn't require adding seven individual items, but instead dragging and dropping an entire frame.

Figure 4.10

Figure 4.10 A page shell that includes a header and sidebar but lacks a footer whose vertical location depends on body content.

Once you've added components to your page design, it makes sense to store them on a separate layer and lock the layer. This prohibits you from selecting the components as you work on the remainder of the page. With the layer locked, you won't mistakenly select a fixed portion of the design, whether by clicking on it with your mouse pointer or using Select All.

Page shells always contain a page header (such as site logo, utility navigation, site search, and primary navigation) and may contain a left or right sidebar that contains local navigation, contact options, or other common components.

Why not the footer? Well, the footer's location is indeterminate. Page height can vary substantially, moving the footer higher or lower on the page. That said, you could still include a footer in a page shell without locking it with the shell items above it. Footers should definitely be included in a page shell where the user interface has a fixed height.

Some designers suggest that this page shell should be integrated into the page design template. That way, you can open a file and the shell will already be placed and locked. This offers significant efficiency in page start-up time, but comes with a few drawbacks, too. What if your site design has more than one type of page shell, such as separate shells for marketing copy, ecommerce, and a member portal? Then you start embedding a lot of unnecessary artwork and the template file—which should be a lightweight starting point—starts to get bogged down.

Additionally, now you are in the business of embedding components into templates, which can become a maintenance nightmare. When components change (even a slight labeling change in a header navigation bar), you now must remember to update not just the reusable component, but every instance where it's been embedded as a starting point for a page design. Plus, other designers may assume that since they have the new header component, their template may not need updating. They may continue to use the template starting point with the now-incorrect header.

Regions

The shell concept hinges on a higher-level breakdown of pages into different, identifiable areas. Most all pages include regions for the header, footer, and body content. That said, many design systems take a regional perspective further, establishing left and/or right rails and even well-defined regions within the body of the layout.

Regions afford a well-defined and understandable way to think of a page as a bento box (Figure 4.11). The bento box is a Japanese serving tray partitioned into different areas, each intended to contain a different portion of the meal. To designers using components, the page layout serves as a bento box, with each partitioned area a destination to drop components.

Figure 4.11

Figure 4.11 A bento box, partitioned into areas in which different portions of a meal are contained.

(Source: http://www.fl ickr.com/photos/t_trace/2323732013/)

For many reasons, it is helpful to identify regions, such as the following:

  • Containers for engineers that transform page layout into high-level markup (commonly, hierarchies of <div>s into which component code is authored)
  • Identified page areas for documenting where a component can—and cannot—be used
  • Visual blocks into which a designer can insert components within a layout
  • Potential component categories when organizing items into a library (refer to Chapter 9, "Organize")
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

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.

Overview


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.

Surveys

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.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

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.

Security


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

Children


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

Marketing


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 customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


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: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

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 NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

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.

Links


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