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Category: UX Design
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.
The history of the Internet has been a steady march towards websites that are richer, bigger and more interactive. As websites have become more robust, we — as designers and developers — have often placed the burden on our users to make more decisions, each of which distracts them from their wants and needs.
However, by using a combination of technical solutions and some careful decision-making on our part, we can often remove interface barriers for our users.
Planning user experience (UX) projects is a balancing act of getting the right amount of user input within the constraints of your project. The trick is to work out the best use of your time. How can you get the most UX goodness for your client’s budget? This article explains how to choose the right mix of tools for the task at hand.
The planning phase is all about understanding what you have been asked to do and working out the best combination of activities that will give you the outcome you need, within the time, budgetary and resource constraints of the project.
In one of the first usability tests I ever did, I met a lovely old lady who could not use a mouse. She kept lifting it in the air and pointing at the screen, speaking words of encouragement to the cursor. At the end of the test I got absolutely nothing, but she did think I was a “lovely boy” who should meet her granddaughter.
Very quickly I learned the value of setting very clear criteria for participant recruitment. If you've ever run a usability test before, you'll know that it's not as easy as it looks. Although it's not rocket science, there are some intricacies that can make a big difference.
People are increasingly using their smartphones as a replacement for desktop computers, even for activities such as shopping and purchasing. And as more people move away from the desktop and onto mobile-optimized websites to shop for products and services, website creators can use established design patterns to help kickstart a mobile e-commerce project.
Having a good mobile e-commerce experience matters a lot. In fact, recent research has found that people are 67% more likely to make a purchase if a website they’ve reached on their phone is smartphone-friendly.
In computer science, the term “adaptive system” refers to a process in which an interactive system adapts its behavior to individual users based on information acquired about its user(s), the context of use and its environment.
Although adaptive systems have been long-discussed in academia and have been an aspiration for computer scientists and researchers, there has never been a better time than today to realize the potential of what future interaction with computer systems will be like.
The key statement of Fitts’s Law is that the time required to move a pointing device to a target is a function of the distance to the target and its size. In layman’s terms: the closer and larger a target, the faster it is to click on that target. This is easy to understand, not too difficult to implement and it doesn’t seem to make much sense to contradict such a simple and obvious statement.
However, before you start applying Fitts’s Law on every single pixel you can find, consider a few problems that might arise for you as an interaction designer.
The Web is technical by nature. Different scripts and pieces of code are linked together through hyperlinks, forming an endless net of interwoven, encrypted information — data that is accessible only through technical interfaces, such as Web browsers, or applications.
Yet, Web professionals have made it their calling to tame the “wild” Web and turn it into an accessible, user-friendly and, most of all, personal medium. Designers can do plenty of things to counteract the technical appearance of the Web. One very effective way is simply to make it look less technical, by using a more human, personal style.
Welcome to a new column in the UX Design section on Smashing Magazine! Each month we'll pick a handful of popular questions asked by our readers around good practices in designing smart and usable experiences.
They will be answered by Christian Holst, a regular author here on Smashing and founder of Baymard Institute. Prior to co-founding Baymard Institute in 2009, he worked as a usability engineer in the hearing aid, credit card and consulting industries. If you have any questions that you would like me to tackle for a future Usability Q&A column here on Smashing Magazine, please ask them in the article's comment section!
The rapid pace of UX design in the agile world can lead to shortsighted design decisions. Focusing on addressing the immediate needs of particular user stories within the limits of a sprint can lead to neglect of larger design questions, which can come back to haunt UX designers later.
Sometimes, UX practitioners just need some time to work through big design issues that don’t fit neatly into an existing user story or an individual sprint. This article will explore one answer to these problems — namely, design spikes, an agile approach that I have developed for large projects. Design spikes, which are bubbles of time that allow designers to focus on complex UX issues, can fit comfortably within the scrum framework and can be an effective tool for designers who have holistic design questions whose answers could potentially invalidate the work being tackled by the team.
Growing up, weekends were about worship in the Hinman household. Sunday mornings were reserved for a laborious worship ritual dictated by my parents. It required dressing up in uncomfortable clothes, going to church and pretending to listen to long-winded sermons about Jesus (while I drew doodles in the hymnals).
Saturday, however, was reserved as my day of worship, and I was a proud and dedicated disciple of the church of Saturday Morning Cartoons. Every Saturday, rain or shine, healthy or sick, I’d jump out of bed, run downstairs to the living room, plant myself in front of the TV, and celebrate the gospel of Wonder Woman, Captain Caveman, Scooby Doo and Papa Smurf for hours on end.
Editor's Note: This article expresses the author's personal opinion and covers experimental UX techniques which aren't considered to be best practice.
Masking passwords is an old practice that’s commonly implemented in sign-up and log-in forms. It’s used to prevent over-the-shoulder snoopers from catching the user’s password. While masking passwords is a good security practice, there’s a chance it could jeopardize the user experience of your sign-up form. When users sign up on a website, they expect a no-hassle, worry-free form to fill out. But masking the password could prevent that.
Log-in forms are used more often than sign-up forms. Users only need to sign up once to create an account, whereas they will need to log in multiple times to access their account. Because log-in forms are used so frequently, there’s a strong chance that users will end up typing their password in front of other people.
When Albert Einstein was a professor at Princeton University in the 1940s, there came the time for the final exam of his physics class. His assistants passed the exam forms to the hundreds of students, and the hall was dead silent. One of the assistants suddenly noticed something was wrong.
She approached Einstein and told him that a mistake had been made with the exam form and that the questions were the same as those in the previous year’s exam. Einstein glanced over the exam form and said that it was OK. He explained that physics had changed so much in the last year that the answers to the questions were now different.