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.
In the Web industry, a lot of exciting knowledge and diverse opinions are shared daily. They are delivered in fragments across hundreds of blogs, feeds, Twitter accounts and apps. In addition, the number of topics seems to multiply daily. We are building and designing for moving targets. Technology is constantly forking and disrupting the way we interact and do business. This is our industry, and I love it. I also know it could be better.
Why does finding and reading content have to be so painful at times? We set out to build great (user) experiences, yet our own experience of reading and learning from blogs is not always so pleasant. We end up relying on our peers and trending topics to see what we should be reading. Just knowing how to get a handle on what’s going on becomes a job requirement — more of a distraction than a good use of time when we have project deadlines, among other responsibilities.
A positive first impression is essential to relationships. People look for trust and integrity, and they expect subsequent encounters to reflect and reinforce their first impression. The same principles apply to brands and their products. Design plays an important role in building lasting relationships with end users and, thus, in supporting the brand’s promise.
Users expect mobile services to be relevant and user-friendly and to perform well. The limitations of the medium, however, impose significant challenges to designing products that meet all of those expectations. While often underestimated, performance is a crucial contributor to a trustworthy mobile user experience. Therefore, it should be considered a key driver in the design process.
In this article, we’ll discuss performance in relation to design and present seven guidelines that can help shape design decisions related to performance while accounting for the needs of end users and businesses. These guidelines are based on the experiences of our teams in designing native mobile apps for a broad product portfolio and on multiple mobile platforms.
Nothing ruins a great website UI like people using it. At least, it often feels that way. You put in days or weeks building the interface, only to find that a vast majority of visitors abandon it partway through the process that it supports. Most of the time, visitors leave because they’ve hit a roadblock: a problem that lets them go no further. They typed their credit card number wrong or clicked the wrong link or mistyped a URL. And it's not their fault.
A good design assumes that people make mistakes. A bad one leaves visitors stuck at a dead end because they mistyped one character. The best professionals account for this with smart, defensive design strategies (also known as contingency design).
A recent power cut highlighted the fragile and dated way I access content on the Web. I sit in front of a computer which has a number of hardware elements like a keyboard, mouse and monitor — all connected to a black box which houses a number of other smaller more complicated bits of hardware. To access content on the Web, I rely on all of these layers working, not to mention the parts outside of my control-like cabling and remote servers.
There was nothing for it but to pick up a book to try and satisfy my visual hunger. With all other distractions (the kinds that need juice from the wall) lying lifeless around my flat, I was able to really enjoy a book I’d been meaning to look at for some time. With many image filled pages the large hardback book (Supply and Demand by Shepard Fairey) was a real joy. Controlling the speed at which I let the pages flick with my thumb, the smell of the ink and paper and the subtle cracking noise of the spine as I opened the book wider, it was the best user experience I’d had in a very long time.
Think about what keeps you coming back to your favorite store, your favorite person or even your favorite website. It’s not just a mindless buy-go, hug-go or click-go relationship. It is a complicated, emotional connection. It is what makes relationships with people and brands intoxicating. User engagement must have an equally complex emotional connection. It must affect the user in mind, body and spirit. Anything less is a 1990s brochure website.
You can create strong storytelling strategies based on user personalities and segmentation. However, it seems almost impossible to measure those efforts, let alone know how to optimize them, without access to a neuroscience laboratory. In fact, emotional engagement can be optimized, and quite effectively, using something already at your disposal: performance metrics.
There are many ways to design sign-up and log-in forms. Most designers are familiar with the conventional ways. But understanding and applying a few innovative techniques could make your forms simpler and more efficient to fill out. In this article, we'd like to present a couple of new ideas that might be useful for your next designs. Please notice that before using these techniques, you should make sure that they make sense in the context in which you are going to use them. We'd love to hear about your case-studies and usability tests that affirm or dismiss the suggestions proposed below.
The purpose of every sign-up form is for users to complete it successfully and send it in. However, if the form is long and complicated, then the user’s excitement for your website could turn to displeasure. Here are a few innovative techniques that will make your forms faster and easier to fill out.
Here is the harsh reality of e-commerce websites: according to recent e-commerce studies, at least 59.8% of potential customers abandon their shopping cart (MarketingSherpa puts it at 59.8%, SeeWhy at 83% and MarketLive at 62.14%). The main question is why do customers abandon their shopping cart so often? Is there some fundamental mistake that designers of e-commerce websites do very often? Are there any common guidelines or rules of thumbs that make it more difficult for our users to purchase products? And is there some meaningful way to improve the conversion rates for our products?
Well, that's exactly what we wanted to find out. In 2010, we recruited a batch of Web users and conducted a usability study, focusing only on the checkout user experience, from “Cart” to “Completed order.” The study was conducted using the “think aloud” protocol and was documented by recording everything that happened on the computer screen. The behavior of the test subjects was then analyzed by scrutinizing these recordings at a later date.
A lot of designers seem to be talking about user experience (UX) these days. We’re supposed to delight our users, even provide them with magic, so that they love our websites, apps and start-ups. User experience is a very blurry concept. Consequently, many people use the term incorrectly. Furthermore, many designers seem to have a firm (and often unrealistic) belief in how they can craft the user experience of their product. However, UX depends not only on how something is designed, but also other aspects. In this article, I will try to clarify why UX cannot be designed.
I recently visited the elegant website of a design agency. The website looked great, and the agency has been showcased several times. I am sure it delivers high-quality products. But when it presents its UX work, the agency talks about UX as if it were equal to information architecture (IA): site maps, wireframes and all that. This may not be fundamentally wrong, but it narrows UX to something less than what it really is.
User experience design for the Web (and its siblings, interaction design, UI design, et al) has traditionally been a deliverables-based practice. Wireframes, site maps, flow diagrams, content inventories, taxonomies, mockups and the ever-sacred specifications document (aka “The Spec”) helped define the practice in its infancy. These deliverables crystallized the value that the UX discipline brought to an organization.
Over time, though, this deliverables-heavy process has put UX designers in the deliverables business — measured and compensated for the depth and breadth of their deliverables instead of the quality and success of the experiences they design. Designers have become documentation subject matter experts, known for the quality of the documents they create instead of the end-state experiences being designed and developed.
Start-up organizations provide an extraordinary example of chaos organized into manageable chunks. Perhaps more than anyone else, the individuals who comprise a start-up team are required to understand their team’s goals across a variety of disciplines — research, marketing, design, development, architecture, etc. — as well as their own responsibility to move the company’s overarching objective forward. Entrepreneurs must choose the direction, designers must think through the options, and developers must cull a functional product or service, all while giving feedback to and receiving it from their colleagues.
At least, that’s the idea. Most start-ups tend to take liberties somewhere along the way. Some start-ups begin with a novel business model, whereas others begin with a beautiful design. Still others try to test things out first with a functional prototype, even if it is a bit ugly. All of them — regardless of their initial approach — adapt their process over time in order to create a well-rounded product or service. And for this reason, most of today’s start-ups describe themselves as “agile.”