Ergonomy is an important aspect of mobile design. Users want to interact with their devices quickly and effortless in a variety of situations. I've seen people climbing rocks, riding bikes, driving boats and jogging while they read their emails. I don't recommend it, but I'm aware of it. Enabling these use cases require one hand interaction and one hand interaction must be adapted to thumbs.
Mobile user interfaces are constantly evolving since the devices are relatively new to us. Some challenges are unbeaten and some opportunities are unexplored while trends are coming and going frequently. Mobile is a vibrant medium and designers are still not unified around the basic conventions which leads to user confusion. Mapping expectations is a key to successful design but difficult to realize in a constantly changing environment. So how can we create a coherent experience over all devices where users only need to learn conventions once and apply everywhere? Find the best solutions and turn them into patterns.
We've seen them before, lists with tools for designers. But they serve a purpose, UX is growing and new tools pop up like mushrooms after rain these days. Surveys, card sorting sessions, usability tests, heat maps, wireframe design and prototyping are just a few examples of activities easily set up online if you just know where to find the right resources.
Trends play an important role in web design because people adopt frequently used patterns and expect other applications to act alike. At the same time no one can choose to use something without memorizing how it works, the procedural memory will register every interaction and build mental models. Consequently, design choices should be done carefully in order to not establish harmful patterns that will be complicated to adjust later on. So be careful what you teach your users! Here is a set of commonly used patterns that may do more harm than good in the long run.
Why are signs so important in traffic? They are recognizable and communicate rules necessary to maintain order on the streets. Steering a vehicle in high speed on a crowded highway limits the attention span and consequently crucial information must reach the driver's awareness without causing distraction. Imagine a world where all traffic signs are designed uniform and contains entirely text based information.
Using icons in the right way will have similar effects on UX, illustrating functionality, supporting intuition and streamlining navigation. The only problem is that different people, with varying expectations might interpret icons in different ways since there is no driving licence required for the web (can't wait for a fully standardized iconic language for digital design).
One way to keep the advantages of visual communication without causing any user confusion is to combine icons with text. Assuming there is enough space... If replacing the text with solely icons is the only option because of constraints, my advice is to make the icons so universal that if they were traffic signs no lives would be in danger.
Currently the market for lifestyle management services is growing and new web solutions pushing people to change behavior pop up everyday. But how do we persuade users to change behavior? Humans are by nature constantly trying to gain control over the situation, and as a result the first step is to educate users and make sure they are fully aware of the consequences a change will lead to. The next step is to make sure that users are motivated enough to put in the effort required to complete the change and that they have the ability to do it. Great, now the users are ready to go through with the change, at least mentally, but in order to go from thought to action there must be a trigger, the final push. The last step is to reward the users so they will stay committed to the new behavior. In summary the main factors of persuasive design are awareness, motivation, ability, trigger and reward.
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.
A/B testing is a quantitative method to compare two versions of web page against each other in a battle of conversion. The results will motivate design decisions and you can measure the success rather than guessing how users will respond to various versions. A/B testing is mostly suitable for fine tuning UI details when the navigation structure is already defined. I think comparing structures require more holistic measurements.
I think that well conducted user research is the foundation of great experiences. And don't fear the expenses, because with the right preparation it can be a well placed investment saving designers (and users) 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 silly 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.