UX has become incredibly complex and multi-faceted over the years. We have so many concepts, abbreviations, and methodologies that we often lose ourselves in all the fine details and differences between them.
In this newsletter, we hope to bring some clarity around UX terminology, the business side of design, UX career ladders, and a few UX guidelines and templates.
If you’d like to dive deeper, we also cover plenty of design patterns in Smart Interface Design Patterns by yours truly, with early-birds now available as well.
We also have a few free community events coming up shortly:
- Smashing Meets Go Green (Dec 7), free online community meet-up on digital sustainability,
- Smashing Workshops 2023–2024, with new in-person workshops coming up soon,
- SmashingConf Freiburg 2024 🇩🇪 (Sep 9–11)
- SmashingConf New York 2024 🇺🇸 (Oct 7–10)
- SmashingConf Antwerp 2024 🇧🇪 (Oct 28–31)
We’d be absolutely delighted to meet you online and in-person this and next year. And we sincerely wish you a lot of hope, optimism, positive energy, and love these days.
1. Progress Steps UX
Only a few things are more frustrating than a progress bar that seems to be stuck. Complex forms often have conditional sections, so users end up going in circles, staying on the same step as they move between sections. So how do we design better progress steps?
Gov.uk suggests starting without a progress indicator altogether. Tell users what they need and how much time it will take. Show progress as “Step [X] out of [Y]” with a text label. Keep the active label visible but hide future and past steps.
For complex forms, Goldman Sachs suggests including text labels under each step. Underline labels to make it clear that users can use them to navigate. Design 6 states: incomplete, active, complete, error, disabled, and warning. And consider using vertical progress steps to always display all sub-steps.
You can find a more thorough overview in Designing Better Progress Steps UX by yours truly, along with useful links and resources to get started. (vf)
2. UX Career Ladders
When we think about our skills and growth, we often think about career ladders. But the problem with ladders is that you either go up, down, or fall off. But what if we pursue a net (not a ladder)? Move up. Move down. Move sideways. Promoting just the vertical progression doesn’t work with diverse careers ahead of us all.
In a fantastic series on Shaping Design, Jason Mesut explores frameworks and tools to help designers and design teams shape their careers. With a competency model, design leadership mapping and workshops to prioritize values and map your team’s and your own design values.
A wonderful reminder that every minute you spend to better understand where you stand and how you want to grow is a minute well-invested. (vf)
3. UX Glossary
What are attitudinal UX research methods and contextual inquiry again? And what are SUS, SEQ, and NASA-TLX? There are many terms, concepts, and abbreviations in UX, so wouldn’t it be great to have one single place to have them all?
Raluca Budiu from the Norman Nielsen Group has been putting together UX glossaries — for UX research (PDF), quantitative research (PDF), lean UX and agile (PDF). The articles and PDFs explain each term in a lot of detail, with useful pointers and related terms.
A neat little helper to keep close, with reliable and concise explanations, all in one single place. (vf)
4. Business Thinking for Designers
Design is rarely the central part of a business. Just like many others, typically, it’s a satellite that has a significant impact, but often that impact is quite difficult to visualize — to explain design decisions, prove their impact, and connect design initiatives with a business value.
To make an impact, we need to speak the language of management and understand how to argue about design through the lens of business. Business Thinking For Designers (free eBook) is a wonderfully practical guide to business for designers, with strategies to effectively communicate with stakeholders and techniques that you can put right to work. Kindly put it together by Ryan Rumsey.
You can also download all chapters and audio for free (but registration is required). It’s a wonderful book, and highly recommended! (vf)
5. Upcoming Workshops and Conferences
Of course we run online workshops on frontend and design, be it accessibility, performance, or design patterns. In fact, we have a couple of workshops coming up soon, and we thought that, you know, you might want to join in as well.
As always, here’s a quick overview:
- Accessibility for Designers UX
with Stéphanie Walter. Nov 6–15
- Building Modern HTML Emails Dev
with Rémi Parmentier. Nov 9–17
- Advanced Modern CSS Masterclass Dev
with Manuel Matuzović. Nov 27 – Dec 11
- Successful Design Systems Workflow
with Brad Frost. Nov 28 – Dec 12
- Design Management Masterclass UX
with Slava Shestopalov. Nov 30 – Dec 8
- Streamlining Your Websites Content Workflow
with Paul Boag. Dec 7–15
- Smart Interface Design Patterns UX
9h-video + Live UX Training with Vitaly Friedman
- Jump to all workshops →
6. 30-60-90 Day Plan For Designers
So you are starting as a UX designer in a new company. Where do you start? How do you make sure you make all the right connections, gather all the right data, and don’t miss something critical?
First 90 Days Plan For Designers by yours truly provides a thorough overview of useful checklists, guides and Notion, Trello and Miro templates to get started in a new role — as a UX designer or UX researcher. Hopefully, there will be some useful pointers for you to get started on the right foot! (vf)
7. Journey Mapping Templates
To visualize user journeys, we typically design user journey maps. They map actions, pain points, jobs to be done, opportunities, emotional journeys, and next steps. Creating one from scratch is quite time-consuming, but fortunately, there is no shortage of free tools to help you off the ground.
NN/g recently released a thorough interactive Journey Mapping Guide to showcase user research, explain customer journeys, and engage with stakeholders. You can also use the End-To-End User Experience Map by Turtle.design, a User Journey Map Template by Estefanía Montaña B, and a User Journey Map Miro template by Steph Walter. Happy mapping, everyone! (vf)
8. Smashing Books 📚
Promoting best practices and providing you with practical tips to master your daily coding and design challenges has always been at the core of everything we do at Smashing.
In the past few years, we were very lucky to have worked together with some talented, caring people from the web community to publish their wealth of experience as printed books. Have you checked them out already?
- Understanding Privacy by Heather Burns
- Touch Design for Mobile Interfaces by Steven Hoober
- Image Optimization by Addy Osmani
- Jump to all books →
That’s All, Folks!
Thank you so much for reading and for your support in helping us keep the web dev and design community strong with our newsletter. See you next time!
This newsletter issue was written and edited by Geoff Graham (gg), Cosima Mielke (cm), Vitaly Friedman (vf), and Iris Lješnjanin (il).
- Design Systems
- Lovely Little Websites
- UX Guides, Templates and Career Ladders
- Useful Front-End Tools
- Design Systems
- Data Visualization And Dashboards
- Designing For Mobile
- Design & UI Inspiration
Looking for older issues? Drop us an email and we’ll happily share them with you. Would be quite a hassle searching and clicking through them here anyway.