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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.
Like most well-designed things, the magic of an iPad app comes from a union of usefulness, usability and meaning. Games aside, the app must be useful by solving a problem that people actually have through the right set of functionality at the right time. It must be easy to use and, just as importantly, easy to get started using, without a lot of pesky setup and learning steps. And it must hold meaning for the user through visual beauty, an emotional connection, personal insights, etc.
In this article, we won’t outline the entire design process for creating an iPad app, but we will explore 10 of the key things to think about when designing your app (and planning the design process).
UX practitioners, both consultants and in house, sometimes conduct research. Be it usability testing or user research with a generative goal, research requires planning. To make sure product managers, developers, marketers and executives (let’s call them stakeholders) act on UX research results, planning must be crystal clear, collaborative, fast and digestible. Long plans or no plans don’t work for people..
You must be able to boil a UX research plan down to one page. If you can’t or won’t, then you won’t get buy-in for the research and its results. This article addresses one key aspect of planning UX research: the one-page plan document. Before we get to that, we’ll briefly discuss the benefits of research planning and identify the audience of a research planning document.
Web design is a craft that is constantly evolving and yet also sometimes sabotaged. The moment a design is released, a new version is born. In the beginning, like a baby, it seems vulnerable and weak, but in time it grows up and becomes self-sufficient. Redesigning a website for its own sake doesn’t prove anything; quite the contrary, it reveals a lack of effectiveness on the part of the designer.
Product design is a craft in which new versions come to life with increasing difficulty. We can learn a thing or two from it when designing for the Web. Forget marketing, technical specs and hardware. Products such as the iPhone, the Mini Cooper and the Zippo lighter have become wildly successful because of their outstanding design. Such massive success springs from three sources: the designer, sticking to the scope and iteration. These aspects can help us in Web design, too. In this article, we’ll look at what we can learn from successful product design.
As technology evolves, so does the art and craft of Web design. New technology creates new challenges, which require new solutions. Often we’re working in uncharted territory, where the solutions demanded really are new. Other times, we’re faced with problems of a more universal nature, problems that have a history.
Given the limited history of Web design, we have to look beyond our immediate domain for answers to the more challenging questions. We do this all the time when we draw on the rich history of graphic design and visual arts. But we’re not limited to sibling disciplines. If we can identify the abstractions and patterns that constitute our challenges, we can look to any source for guidance. We can look to a seemingly unrelated field, such as psychology or music. We can even look to an episode from the early 18th century about Johann Sebastian Bach.
We’ve come a long way since the days of the first Macintosh and the introduction of graphical user interfaces, going from monochrome colors to millions, from estranged mice to intuitive touchscreens, from scroll bars to pinch, zoom, flick and pan. But while hardware, software and the people who use technology have all advanced dramatically over the past two decades, our approach to designing interfaces has not.
Advanced technology is not just indistinguishable from magic (as Arthur C. Clarke said); it also empowers us and becomes a transparent part of our lives. While our software products have definitely empowered us tremendously, the ways by which we let interfaces integrate with our lives has remained stagnant for all these years. In the accessibility industry, the word “inclusive” is relatively commonplace; but inclusive design principles should not be reserved for the realm of accessibility alone, because they apply to many more people than “just” the lesser-abled.
Product pages for e-commerce websites are often rife with ambitious intentions: Recreate the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Provide users with every last drop of product information. Build a brand persona. Establish a seamless checkout process.
As the “strong link in any conversion,” product pages have so much potential. We can create user-centric descriptions and layouts that are downright appropriate in their effectiveness: as Erin Kissane says, “offering [users] precisely what they need, exactly when they need it, and in just the right form.”
For designers, it’s easy to jump right into the design phase of a website before giving the user experience the consideration it deserves. Too often, we prematurely turn our focus to page design and information architecture, when we should focus on the user flows that need to be supported by our designs. It’s time to make the user flows a bigger priority in our design process.
Design flows that are tied to clear objectives allow us to create a positive user experience and a valuable one for the business we’re working for. In this article, we’ll show you how spending more time up front designing user flows leads to better results for both the user and business. Then we’ll look in depth at a common flow for e-commerce websites (the customer acquisition funnel), as well as provide tips on optimizing it to create a complete customer experience.
As I sat in my local co-working space, shoulder-deep in a design problem on my MacBook Air, I could hear him. He was on the phone, offering screen-by-screen design recommendations to his client for the project they were working on. When this acquaintance of mine arrived at the subject of a particularly hairy task flow, he said, “Well, these aren’t going to be very savvy users, so we should probably put some instructions there.” He followed this by rattling off some dry, slightly too formal line intended to clear up any confusion about the page.
It was an act that reflected his apparent belief that some savvier type of user is out there who would immediately understand the screen and could live without the instructive text. I cringed. I’ve heard the same suggestion on far too many phone calls, and it’s been wrong every time. To shed light on my reaction to it and to illustrate why such a suggestion is problematic, let’s consider a quick tale of two users.
Microsoft’s new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7 (WP7), introduces a fresh approach to content organization and a different UX, based on the Metro design language and principles that will be incorporated into Windows 8. It also targets a different market than its predecessor: instead of being designed mainly for business and technology workers, WP7 is targeted at active people with a busy life, both offline and online, and who use social networks every day, whatever their background.
First, it’s a new interface, so you have space to create and develop some new ideas for it. We are still at the beginning of its growing curve, so it’s an interesting challenge. When I saw a WP7 presentation for the first time, I thought, “I want to design something for this.” Exploring is a great way to learn how to build a new exciting experience for users.