I think that well conducted user research is the foundation of great design experiences. And don't fear the expenses, because with the right preparation it can be a well placed investment saving designers (and users) from future headaches. Here is a comprehensive guide to participatory research and design explaining what it means to frame objectives, plan activities, facilitate data gathering and analyze findings.
When I go shopping for clothes there is one thing that makes me run out of the store: when I can't determine if the clothes I'm looking at are designed for men or women. Sounds a bit shallow right, limiting myself to the gender stereotypes, blinded by the fear of doing wrong. But I think most people get frustrated when they can't create an order around themselves because of ambiguous labels. Users feel the same when they are browsing through content on a web site, consequently it's crucial that navigation match user expectations.
People in average spend less time on each new web site they visit while browsing all the digital noise. Consequently it's essential that users understand how to take the right action with desired outcome using minimal mental effort. In order to set the stage for such usable experiences without user confusion we must learn the psychology behind the actions. What makes you take action? Check out this article.
After the mobile revolution took palce internet has become a much more dynamic medium, like it was intended to be, where a fixed 980 pixel layout is just not enough in order to reach all users. Today web design is about making content accessible through multiple digital channels, in suitable formats for various devices. But designing for multiple screens can be problematic since the user needs are constant but the technological conditions are diverse, so how can we rise to the challange and adopt to the new deigital landscape? Here are a set of patterns that might be a step in the right direction in order to cover the most essential aspects of multiscreen design.
Today the web is drowened in content and users are flooded by impression. Consequently it's a real challenge to stand out, attract and convert users. So how can we make sure that our design decisions result in desired outcomes? Luckily web sites are dynamic creatures that can easily be changed in order to satisfy the users - if we just know where the problems are. Gathering, interpreting and understanding how to use analytic data is one way to identify areas of improvement and point designers in the right direction.
We all know that best practice is not a recipe for successful innovation, memorizing a few laws are not enough to become a designer. And this is the charming part of being a designer according to me - every new project is unique: users change, technology change and context change. However, articles like this one can still be useful to support decision making and avoid obvious design mistakes.
Blurred backgrounds with transparent widgets is a rising web design trend. What I like about this concept, except the elegant look, is the visual effect of multiple layers. This can be a great way to display content on gesture based user interfaces without risking the orientation, just like the notification center in ios7 slides down and blurs the background. You know where you came from and you know how to get back there. My only concern with blurred backgrounds is the noise factor since it's hard to focus on the content in some of the examples presented in this overall inspiring article.
When the web moved out from desktop hooked computers into mobile devices a new chellenge rised up - contextual differences that impacts the user experience. How can we set the stage for digital touchpoints when we have no idea of when, where or under which circumstances the interaction will take place? Today we partly found an answer to this question in the shape of sensory based technology that can give us valuable insights about the situation of use, like location, velocity, direction, background noise, brightness etc. The next step is to figure out how to transform these insights into really awesome adaptive designs.
Adopting a lean philosophy is all about creating value for the customers instead of wasting resources on worthless routines. Consequently the challenge for most UX:ers working in lean environments is to adapt the workflow and justify the required resources. So how can we shape UX tasks in order to add more customer value? Here is one proposal to a lean UX manifesto.
UX design for me is half planning, half crafting - and if the plan is bad the design will suffer. The road to success usually includes, at some point: sales, strategy, research, prototyping, user testing and implementation. All aspects of the design process must therefore be considered, methods must be selected and deliverables must be actionable in order to generate desired outcome. We all know that no chain is stronger than its weakest link, which also applies to UX - no design process is stronger than its weakest moment. Consequently it's our responsability as UX:ers to make sure the chain is unbroken.
Users are over flooded by digital services every time they open their connected devices. All you need to do is to look at your smartphone , it offers endless options: read your mail, check your Facebook, send a tweet, pay the bills, buy a pizza, schedule a meeting etc. So what happens when people are trying to arrange their entire lives on a 4 inch display? Every fraction matters and it's our mission as designers to eliminate all obstacles for the users so they can reach their goals smooth as silk. Of course, it's a challenge to know how different users will react to certain design decisions, and we all know the only way to get true validation is by testing. But before testing something you must build it, and in order to avoid generic design mistakes while doing that I think it's a good idea to learn the basics of human cognition. This article explains two useful principles that all designers should be aware of.
Interaction design is not all about usability, the final goal is always to attract users and make them satisfied. So how do we utilize technology in order to seduce human beings? 1. Minimize the cognitive load by mapping users' mental models and ability to associate. 2. Trigger positive emotional responses by finding the moment that matters and setting the stage for fun and engaging interactions.
I just love the way Gmail's reminder makes me feel a little bit embarrassed, but so grateful, when I forget to attach the file as I intended. Everyone need a guardian UX angel in the noisy and fast paced digital world. But how can we identify, and designing for, common user mistakes? Do the research, define the target population, build a prototype, make sure that real users will get a chance to test it and pay attention to the details.
How much fidelity that is affordable is an important decision in many design projects. My answer is that it depends on several factors like the purpose of the deliverable, the target audience and the current phase in the process. The rule of thumb must be to use minimum fidelity early in the process so iterating over a wide range of ideas will be cheap and fast and thereafter add details when the stakeholders are satisfied. Start to define the content/functionality, find a structure that is easy to navigate, map the UI flow, draw wireframes of each state, build an interactive prototype and finally add the graphical details.
Users always have a set of expectations when they interact with a new UI oganized in their mental models. So when we build applications, the only way to deliver a usable first time experience is to make it work like the users expect. So let's design visual clues, interaction patterns and other ways to communicate affordances that the users will understand. The probem is that a UI full of functionality requires way too much explanation for a tiny mobile screen - it will be cluttered. So how can we design a clean UI with a huge set of requirements, is it possible to hide advanced features, activate them by invisble interaction patterns and invite the users to gradually learn how to use them? This article proposes an interesting solution: visual clues that fade out after the users learn how to interact with the UI.
Readablity is one of the key factors in order to create usable web sites in my opinion. So how do humans perceive and process content on the web? One important thing to keep in mind is that users do not consume web content like magazines or books, because browsing takes places in a sea of noise distcracting us what we actually aim for. Consequently people learn how to filter the information, so if we know how people do that we can design accordingly, suit their mental models and help them focus on the things that matter. Here is an interesting article about a phenomen called banner blindness including advice how to consider it in web design.
Here is a useful archive full of inspiring examples of commonly used interaction flows out there. The path our users need to follow in order to complete a task is critical for conversion rates and usability. In my opinion the user journey should be short, smooth and unambiguous to avoid bouncing website visitors.
Based on well conducted research there shuould be a large set of requirements describing what the users want to find on a website. And this is a good starting point, but before the content is arranged so people can consume it, it has no value. Consequently I think a good layout is a key aspect of good accessibility. Here are some stepts to follow in order to design perfect layouts (or at least a few as most steps are actually not directly related to layouts but rather design in general IMO).
Tons of data is gathered and stored digitally everyday. But what purpose does all the data serve if we can't shape it into a format that we can appreciate? Designers must put the users in focus in order to understand why people need to consume all this data and in which context it will be presented. Data visualized correctly can be a great support in decision making, giving an overview, a sense of control and the ability to forecast trends.
Vision is the main perceptual system used on the web. How people scan content and decide where to focus their attention is essential to understand in order to create good UX. Eye-tracking research indicates that web users have developed patterns of visual perception. This article presents four design rules to consider based on those findings.