This category features quality articles on usability, information architecture, interaction design and other user experience (UX) related topics – for digital (Web, mobile, applications, software) and physical products. Through these articles, experts and professionals share with you their valuable ideas, practical tips, useful guidelines, recommended best practices and great case studies. Curated by Chui Chui Tan. Subscribe to the RSS-Feed.
Many modern software development best practices draw on influences from the industrial era and concepts like specialization, where individuals with specialized skills worked in an assembly line to mass-produce physical products. These practices from the world of manufacturing have come to influence how things are done when designing and building software products as well.
Lean thinking is one of the latest approaches software development companies have adopted to maximize value and reduce wasted effort and resources. It does so by breaking down an objective into a series of experiments. Each experiment starts with a hypothesis that is tested and validated. The output of each experiment informs the future direction. This is similar to the idea of “sprints” in the agile world, where the overall product roadmap is divided into smaller and meaningful bodies of work.
When e-commerce search works, it’s fast, convenient and efficient. It’s no wonder that so many users prefer searching over clicking categories. Unfortunately, our recent large-scale usability study and top-50 benchmark of e-commerce search finds that search often doesn’t work very well.
On-site search is a key component of almost any e-commerce website. That’s why we at Baymard Institute have invested months conducting a large-scale usability study, testing the e-commerce search experience of 19 major e-commerce websites with real-world end users.
How can designers create experiences that are custom tailored to people who are unlike themselves? As explained in part 1 of this series, an effective way to gain knowledge of, build empathy for and sharpen focus on users is to use a persona. This final part of the series will explain an effective method of creating a persona.
There are myriad ways to integrate user-centered thinking into the creative process of UX design, and personas are one of the most effective ways to empathize with and analyze users. There is no one right way to develop a persona, but the method I will share here is based on processes developed, field-tested and refined over the years at the interaction design agency Cooper. This process follows a logical order that begins with knowing nothing (or very little) about users and ends with a refined and nuanced perspective of users that can be shared with others.
Nowadays, displaying onboarding screens to first-time users has become a common practice in mobile apps. The purpose of these onboarding screens — also referred to as walkthroughs — is to introduce the app and demonstrate what it does.
Given that these are often the first set of screens with which users interact, they also set the users’ expectations of the app. Therefore, it is essential that those involved in creating the product — product managers, designers, developers — take the time to evaluate whether onboarding is necessary for the app and, if so, to determine the best way to implement it.
In my experience as an interaction designer, I have come across many strategies and approaches to increase the quality and consistency of my work, but none more effective than the persona. Personas have been in use since the mid-’90s and since then have gained widespread awareness within the design community.
For every designer who uses personas, I have found even more who strongly oppose the technique. I once also viewed personas with disdain, seeing them as a silly distraction from the real work at hand — that is, until I witnessed them being used properly and to their full potential.
No person is immune from the influence of the people and groups they encounter. As much as we would like to think that every thought we have is original, that every opinion we express is informed by facts alone, the truth is that we use others around us as a reference point for much of our attitudes and behavior. This isn’t a bad thing; it’s human nature.
Knowing how groups influence people can help you to move from being a common, everyday, work-your-fingers-to-the-bone designer to a strategic influencer of your target audience with relative ease. In fact, whether researchers, designers or managers, everyone involved in user experience (UX) design would benefit from deeper knowledge of how to incorporate social influence in their work.
If you have to design an interface it's almost obvious to think to begin the process by drawing. But is this the best way? I once casually started by writing an imagined human-computer conversation, and only afterwards I continued by drawing. This changed my way of thinking and I never went back to drawing first. This article will explain the reasons behind my decision.
I have always been a huge admirer of the guys at Basecamp. Some time ago, I was reading a tweet by Jason Zimdars, one of its designers: “UI design starts with words.” He wasn’t joking. The comment got a lot of retweets, a lot of favorites. Everyone understood what he meant — except me.
A/B testing, also known as split testing, is the method of pitting two versions of a landing page against each other in a battle of conversion. You test to see which version does a better job of leading visitors to one of your goals, like signing up or subscribing to a newsletter. You can test two entirely different designs for a landing page or you can test small tweaks, like changes to a few words in your copy.
Running A/B tests on your website can help you improve your communication with visitors and back up important design decisions with real data from real users. With the multitude of tools available (detailed later), split testing has become easy for even non-technical people to design and manage.
When working on a project, have you ever felt that you and the rest of the team were making a lot of decisions based on assumptions? Having to make choices with limited information is not unusual — especially in complex projects or with brand new products.
Phrases like “We think people will use this feature because of X” or “We believe user group Y will switch to this product” become part of the early deliberation on what to develop and how to prioritize.
An "affordance" is a perceived signal or clue that an object may be used to perform a particular action. A chair sits at around knee height and appears to provide support. It affords sitting. A toothbrush has a handle a little longer than the human palm. It affords gripping.
All of the objects that surround us have affordances: some are explicit (the “Push” sign above a door handle), and others are hidden (a chair could be used to break a window or used as a weapon). The term was first coined by psychologist James G. Gibson, then introduced to human-computer interaction by Donald Norman in his book The Psychology of Everyday Things, required reading for budding industrial and product designers everywhere.