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Smashing Book 5 features smart responsive design techniques and patterns.
Category: UX Design
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.
If content sits at the top of the food chain, why do we spend so much time talking about the finer points of design? Every day we debate, experiment with and discuss topics that easily fall into the category of aesthetics, enhanced functionality and layout; in fact, relatively rarely do we talk about content. Nevertheless, even though we should concede that content is king in this realm, this doesn’t mean that design should be devalued.
It may seem logical that the user experience lives and dies by how the user relates on an emotional level to the content on a website. But this is not necessarily the case. From a design perspective, our job is to maximize the value of every visitor, whether they love the content or hate it. The role of a UX designer is not always to make everyone feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Usability and user experience testing is vital to creating a successful website, and only more so if it’s an e-commerce website, a complex app or another website for which there’s a definite ROI. And running your own user tests to find out how users are interacting with your website and where problems might arise is completely possible.
But using one of the many existing tools and services for user testing is a lot easier than creating your own. Free, freemium and premium tools are out there, with options for most budgets. The important thing is to find a tool or service that works for your website and then use it to gather real-world data on what works and what doesn’t, rather than relying purely on instinct or abstract theories.
This is the first in a three-part series on how to build and grow successful user experience teams in agile environments. It covers challenges related to organization, hiring and integration that plague UX teams in these situations. The perspective is that of a team leader, but the tactics described can be applied to multiple levels in an organization.
Building any kind of agile team is a lengthy and challenging process. Building a user experience team within an agile organization challenges not only traditional design practices but typical design team dynamics. In this first part, we’ll look at the type of culture that would support a strong UX component in the agile process and how to structure the organization so that designers are most effective and are able to thrive.
You might consider yourself knowledgeable, but you’ve probably never heard of this powerful communication and design technique that I’m about to share. I’m sure you’ve seen it in practice but never knew it was working on you — that’s how good it is. I’m here to shed light on this technique so that you can use it as a approach to your design or writing.
See what I did there? I introduced you to dissonance by using the technique itself. If used correctly, it can enhance your approach to design and copywriting in certain projects. Welcome to designing with dissonance!
AIDA. Attention, interest, desire, action. It’s the classic copywriting formula, studied and used by almost every copywriter on the planet. Well, I’m not a fan. Not because it isn’t accurate, and not because it doesn’t work. If your writing can get attention, grab interest, create desire and prompt action, then you’re doing a lot of things right.
If your writing isn’t doing these things, however, then I don’t think AIDA will help you very much, because it doesn’t do enough to explain how to do any of these things. AIDA doesn’t give you all of the ingredients that combine to result in action — which is what you ultimately want!
Forms, forms, forms, often overlooked when it comes to design. In this post we are glad to release a Form Design Cheat Sheet, created by Joe Leech and released for Smashing Magazine and its readers. This crib sheet contains an Omnigraffle template, Photoshop (PSD) and PDF examples for you to download and use how you wish. Print it out, stick it on your wall, send it to your clients, generally help make everybody’s forms a bit better.
The designers of the crib sheet have spent years designing and testing forms for their projects and decided to summarize the most common problems and issue that they've seen quite often in their projects. As usual, the goodie is absolutely free to use in private and commercial projects. The crib sheet is released under a Creative Commons license.
In your pocket right now is the most powerful “remote control” (as Drew Diskin put it) that has ever existed. It is no ordinary remote control. It can harness everything that all of the previous mass media (television, radio, Internet, etc.) can do. People aren’t using them just for simple entertainment or for phone calls. They have become the hub of our personal lives.
It’s no longer just about the evolving power and capabilities of these devices. It’s about us and how we, too, are changing. The user’s expectation of a great experience is the new standard. It falls to us as UX professionals to apply our skills to make this happen on the vast array of devices out there. It’s not always easy, though. The mobile realm has some unique constraints and offers some interesting opportunities. While covering all of the nuances of mobile UX in one article would be impossible, we’ll cover some fundamentals and concepts that should move you in the right direction with your projects.
It’s easy to see your top-visited pages, navigation patterns and conversion metrics using visitor-tracking tools like Google Analytics. However, this data doesn’t show the roadblocks that users typically run into on your website. Tracking and optimizing error messages will help you measurably improve your website’s user experience. We’ll walk through how to add error tracking using Google Analytics, with some code snippets. Then, we’ll assemble the data and analyze it to figure out how to improve your error message drop rates.
The most helpful errors to track are form-field errors and 404 pages. Form-field errors can be captured after the form’s validation has run; this can be client-side or server-side, as long as you can trigger a Google Analytics event when an error message appears to a user. (We’ll be using Google Analytics in this article, but you can apply these concepts to many visitor-tracking tools, such as Omniture and Performable.)
Designers are visually literate creatures. We use visuals to express our ideas, whether by building wireframes, sketching interfaces or pushing pixels. As a result, the majority of knowledge captured when we design a product is some form of “corporate memory”: a combination of assets and documentation. This creation of visual artifact is widely regarded as our most effective means of communicating thought through a product. However, creating a product takes more than just documentation, and much of it is communicated not visually, but verbally.
Due to the growing popularity of iterative product development, the spoken word has become an integral part of the design process. The shift in focus from documentation to collaboration has put greater emphasis on communication. Now more than ever, there is a need to articulate a design “voice” during the early stages of conversation about a product, and to maintain it throughout the process — although this is easier said than done.
Part 1 of “Improving the Online Shopping Experience” focused on the upper part of the purchase funnel and on ways to get customers to your website and to find your products. Today, we move down the funnel, looking at ways to enable customers to make the decision to buy and to guide them through the check-out process.
Inform and reinforce the customer’s buying decisions by offering in-depth product information. The content on product pages should be relevant and should give the customer a virtual feel for the product. Ensure that your website addresses the key elements of a product page.