Posts Tagged ‘UX design’

Importance of User Research

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

User Research, the term brings to mind a complex looking image with stacks of paper, graphs and diagrams, computers, figures, and whatnot. If this is true for you too, then you are not wrong. It does in-fact consist of an infinitely straining series of events, each more complex than the other.

Then why do so many companies today invest so much in terms of money and manpower in setting up programs all based on one objective- user research?

The answer to this question is simple — it is impossible to launch a successful product or design without going through this tedious process, for it is nothing but this that gives the creators an idea of what the audience wants, how will it perceive whatever they have to offer and most importantly how much are they willing to pay in order to have it. It seems like a fair bargain, doesn’t it?

So let us begin by understanding what is this “user research”. If very loosely defined, it can be considered as observation techniques, task analyses and other methods of feedback aimed to procure an understanding of the user’s needs, problems, and behavior. It is carried out using various methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative and over the years has evolved into a near scientific method of analysis.

User research can be considered as an exploration mission sent right to the hearts of consumers. These become essential because every UX or UI designer needs the data provided by this to be empathetic towards the user’s needs. Many experts in the field unanimously stress on the need for empathy in design. They opine that without understanding the feelings, sight, and experience of others it is pointless to design anything. This makes perfect sense, after all, UX or user experience is all about satisfying the user, making him comfortable while using that given piece of technology and that can only happen once you know what makes that consumer happy, what makes him twitch, what annoys him and what relaxes him, User research gives you all of these things and more.

User research brings in data through ethnographic studies, usability tests, interviews, surveys, statistical analyses and serves it to the designer, it provides him a window to the user’s mind and finally gives him an inspiration so as to “what to create.” The first and foremost outcome is exactly that, it provides the designers with inspiration and paints them a clear picture of whether their idea is relevant or not. This goes a long way. The data and its analysis are used to demonstrate to the companies the importance of these designs and to attract investors, capital, and everything else that the designer needs to carry on. It even guides these big companies in the direction they should invest more in R&D. A classic example of the fact is Samsung TV. Before their embankment in the journey of user research, the global TV market was dominated by ostentatious boasting of their screen’s resolution, sound quality, etc. But Samsung’s research sung a different tale, it indicated that the audience cared much more about the looks and overall design of their television as compared to the technical feats it offered.

People thought of the TV more like a piece of furniture than anything else and wanted it to fit in inside their rooms along with other things and not glare around looking out of place. As a result, Samsung radically altered its designs and the televisions they produced were sleeker, better looking, and capable of merging in with its surroundings. Samsung’s share of the global TV market nearly doubled because of this endeavor. This and many more examples including those of Microsoft, Sony, Lenovo all giants in their respective fields had an epiphany that changed their profit sacks allowing their advancements in the field of User Research.

Another bright spot that this field highlights along with return on investment, relevance, etc. is in the arena of sales and advertisement. Advertising a product without knowing the user is the same as shooting an arrow in the dark and hoping it hits the bull’s eye. User research describes the demographics of the consumer in a way that enables the sellers to isolate the needs, necessities, likes, dislikes of a large number of consumers, and finally isolate their own target customer. The 21stCentury is scattered with examples of companies providing fewer benefits to the consumer as compared to a rival company and yet showing more in sales. All of this hinges upon one thing- understanding the user, and accomplishing that is next to impossible without a good quality, comprehensive user research.

Thus, on the importance of user research, we may simply conclude that, for a designer to get inspiration for a product he needs user research, for a company to understand the return on investment and the relevance of a product it needs user research and finally for a seller to fix the price and finally sell the product he needs user research. Every step of the journey a lot of things change, but what remains constant is the need for quality user research.

Significance of Iconography

Friday, January 24th, 2020

A picture is worth a thousand words” you must have come across these words more than you can recall, but when it comes to the market for the companies this picture can be worth much more than a thousand dollars too.

Iconography is the art of developing and using icons to capture audiences, remove ambiguity from concepts, and make the data provided easy to handle and more presentable. That must have sounded like too much for a picture, but believe me, all of these things and more do hinge upon the types of icons a company uses. Iconography today is playing a pivotal role in defining the good user experience and it is a testimony of just how germane this tool is that billions of dollars are spent annually by companies like Google, Facebook, Walmart, Samsung, etc. in this field.

The significance of iconography can be easily understood — just think of a brand, any brand. What are the first five things that come to mind? Several pieces of research conducted by experts in human behavior unanimously point out that it is the brand’s standard icon. For example, if I think of Gmail, one of the first things that pop into my head is that red M in an envelope. So, it is needless to say that the first and most primary importance of iconography is- assigning an identity to a company. The icons register in the brains of the users much easily as compared to any other feature and they have a higher chance of being identified when coming across randomly. The best example to demonstrate my last analysis would be the simple fact that how on any random web page when we see a little blue bird we know its twitter, even when no prior context is provided, same happens with the white f in a blue box or the white camera with a pink background.

Next on the list is — the implicit use of iconography. An icon does not just operate as an ID card for companies, they are also the tool that companies use to help navigate the users through the various pages present on their websites, etc. Suppose you want to read an article on sports and you open a news website then instead of scrolling through until you reach the desired section you can just click on the sports icon and directly reach it. Or suppose you just want to take a print out of the page, the print icon will be easily available and identifiable from the beginning and thus much easier to access if instead the word “print” was scribbled somewhere in the corner. Going back or forward on web pages, skipping pages icons make all these tasks much easy to perform owing to their easy to spot and convenient to access nature.

In a page full of text an icon provides perspective to the user. It draws attention to products, services, menu, and features. You would not have to comb through tons and tons of words to finally reach the place you actually wanted to see. The amount of energy and time wasted otherwise would be much more than what anybody can afford to waste in today’s day and time. Moreover, icons provide a compact display of information in a more attractive and user-friendly manner. For example, my taskbar is currently displaying a few icons — word, google chrome, files, music. Now just imagine if instead of showing these as icons my taskbar would have just had these same written down in words, or on your smartphone instead of the bright little pictures of all those apps, you would just have the said names typed in normal Arial, font size 10. How dull would all that be?

Our speed of using these devices would reduce considerably and we would not want to spend as much time on these devices as we do, for the simple reason that they won’t be as attractive or comfortable to use. But with icons, we have an inherent escape from these mundane problems. Moreover, with money flowing in from every crevice the R&D in iconography is so developed that all the colors, angles, edges, figures everything you come across in these icons are scientifically designed to provide you with aesthetically pleasing sensation. So they are not just helping you in all these other tasks they are also making your subconscious happier just by being there- how great is that?

It started since the 18th-century iconography has become an irreplaceable part of user-company interaction. It defines the user experience and plays a pivotal role in marketing and advertisement of products. Aside from conveying a tremendous amount of information in a compact yet comprehensive way it makes navigation faster by multiple folds. Adding to the attractiveness, comfort accessibility iconography provides an identity to a company. It is a burning ground in both electronic and paper operated industries and has reached a point where both the biggest giants in the industries as well as the feeble infants are pouring in large sums of money in developing icons and pursuing more and more dynamic and developed standards of iconography. A result of which can be seen all around on your desktops, mobile phones, billboards, etc. Where from every nook and corner there is one bright little icon peering over, grabbing your attention and holding your hand and taking you to wherever you want to go.

Tips on Designing PWAs to Boost User Experience

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Businesses want to make their services and products accessible to a large number of people possible. To achieve a high level of accessibility, technological capabilities, and bandwidth reliability have stood continuously as a hurdle. This scenario is where PWAs come to the fore. These are nothing but a website that looks and behaves exactly like mobile apps.

Companies like Forbes have used PWAs to great success. They saw 2x increase in average user session length and 20% more impressions. However, to get such exceptional numbers, it is important to focus on UI/UX of the PWAs to boost user experience:

Below are some of the tips on designing PWA to get a much better User Experience (UX).

Search giant Google recommends some tips to ensure that users enjoy rich, fast, reactive web experiences

1. Focus on loading time

  • PRPL pattern — This pattern optimizes minimum time interaction and makes sure it acquires maximum efficiency in caching.
  • Service worker caching — Even if the pages are not open, service worker caching is a script that runs in the background of your browser. As they are excellent in caching, it allows PWA to serve the instant response on slow networks.
  • Server-side rendering — when the JavaScript fails or is disabled, users can get faster content with server-side rendering. It even allows the search engine to index it quickly.

2. Makes it User-centric

Making the PWA user-friendly is the ultimate goal that too fast and efficient as possible. For instance, ensure that the progress of the user is shown for every significant interaction. Also, ensure every item in your PWA has a purpose. Less and useful things usually make better User Experience (UX).

3. Make it seamless

The things, instant loading, and providing smooth experience are both different. Ensure there are quiet and seamless transitions without any downtime, especially when users are processing payment and submitting forms. Users often bounce at clunky changes during these types of instances. So always keep this in mind when it regards your design.

4. Make it shareable

PWAs do not provide easily accessible URLs. Therefore you need to ensure that users could still share whatever page they are looking at easily. To apply this on PWA, you can have a share button that allows the users to copy the URL on the clipboard. Make sure the loading of the third-party JavaScript is delayed when sharing social buttons until the primary content of the page is loaded.

5. Ensure flawless touch interactions

As a thumb rule, communications must be implemented flawlessly or not at all. It is because it is disgracefully difficult to implement advanced touch interactions like swipe to dismiss and pull to refresh. You can instead use a bottom navigation bar that does not suggest the possibility of advanced touch interactions.

6. Be iconic

When the PWA is added to the home screen of the user, you will want it to blend well with the native apps. Along with making it a natural fit, you will also want to ensure that it is flexible to the requirement of different platforms like IOS, Windows, and Android.

Conclusion

When considering the low cost of building a single PWA for multiple devices and platforms, it makes a lot of sense for businesses. It is evident why PWA is the only one to replace traditional native apps in the upcoming future.

Psychology and UX

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

You probably come across various billboards, hoardings, posters, notices, messages, letters or even just images and text on paper every day. Some of these may be important and would require your attention, and others would be just be something you saw while traveling to work, scrolling through your feed or going through a magazine/ newspaper casually. All these are just images for our brain to analyze, sort through and dispose of eventually. But some of these are a bit more interesting to our brain even though they don’t need to be. There is a reason to why particular designs or layouts catch your eye or get your heart pumping.

Enter Neuroscience.

Wait, did you just mention Neuroscience in a UX blog?

Let me explain. Cognition is complex, and many factors play into gut reactions or any instant and random impression. When you ask someone, “Why’d you do that?” there’s a high chance they won’t be able to answer or that you’ll misinterpret their response for a bias. The thing is, our human brain is lazy, repetitive and prone to shortcuts

While research methods like observation and interviewing often require the UX researcher and participant to make guesses, modern technology like eye tracking allows researchers to study nearly imperceptible reactions and preferences.

In the case of products with substantial traffic, seemingly tiny details like the width of a button or the color contrast of text can make millions of dollars of difference. That’s why tech giants like Facebook and Google are beginning to employ neuroscience-based techniques to study how people use their products.

Let’s start with a few design principles which harness the knowledge of neuroscience and psychology and can help designers by understanding the mind of the user.

1. Spoilt For Choice

psychological study was done at a gourmet market, in which people could choose from 24 different jam flavors at one stand, and only six jams at another. While 60% of customers were drawn to the stand with a bigger number of choices, only 3% of them actually made a purchase.

On the flipside, 30% of those who had only six jam options bought themselves a jar.

This is related to Hick’s Law, which states that people take more time to choose if there is a greater number of choices in front of them. UX design is about helping users get what they need — quickly. The best approach for your design is to present a limited number of options, rolled out at optimal points while they are browsing through your interface.

Avoid overwhelming your audience. Even though many people think they are great at managing multiple things at the same time, most aren’t truly adept multitaskers. And those are the people for whom you need to design.

2. Hack Into The User’s Mind

It is no secret that much of what drives human behavior is subconscious. In the milliseconds after a person encounters a new app or website, millions of neurons fire and the brain makes hundreds of subconscious decisions.

Am I in the “right” place? Should I trust this site?

A 2012 study found that people form aesthetic reactions to a web page in the first 17 to 50 milliseconds after exposure.

To put that into perspective, it takes the eye 300–400 milliseconds to blink. Your product may receive its trial, judgment, and sentence all in less than the blink of an eye.

For example, if a site loads slowly and the brain reads the first items that load as “off-topic” the user may navigate away immediately rather than wait for the site to load.

Companies like Facebook invest significant resources into studying load order of elements. If someone logs into Facebook and doesn’t see any notification badges, they may navigate away instantly. If the badges load first, they may wait while the content-heavy News Feed loads.

Human brain’s decision making can be classified into 2 simple categories

System 1: fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, subconscious.

System 1 thinking is reactive — responsible for complex but instinctive cognition like determining the distance between objects or determining emotional responses.

System 2: slow, effortful, logical, calculating, conscious, infrequent.

System 2: thinking is analytical and is applied to more complex scenarios, like determining appropriate social behavior or comparing two products with different prices and characteristics.

Since the brain doesn’t want to re-process information or make novel decisions every time it is faced with a new scenario, much of human decision-making falls into System 1, or “fast thinking.”

When making decisions quickly the brain can over-rely upon schemas or mental models — familiar patterns of information and interaction. When System 1 thinking is engaged, System 2 never kicks into effect. People may not be aware of their brain’s decision-making, but it strongly impacts their behaviors and perception of the product

3. Make It Standout

Everyone arrives at a website or an app with some expectation of what it should look like. Staying close to that expectation helps designers benefit from instant subconscious decision making.

The person who opens your app or website wants to know a) does this have what I am looking for; and b) is this high quality? Keeping designs simple and keeping brand, services, and products front and center help people orient themselves.

Putting some information front and center means keeping other information from crowding it out. Decluttering a design is just as important as re-arranging components.

These minimalist designs outperform more complex designs in task completion and visual clarity is shown to impact purchasing decisions on and offline.

It’s been scientifically proven that visually simple and clean designs perform better. The lazy brain can grasp the site’s purpose instantly and understand what action to take.

4. Organize and Profit

Eye tracking studies are able to follow a person’s gaze as they interact with a product. They can produce heat maps that show the length of time spent focused on one part of the screen, or maps of how the eye jumps around the page.

We know that, across industries and app types, the brain commonly scans for information in an F-pattern (or E-pattern). The person looks at the information at the top, reading to the right, and then scanning down the page for relevant information or icons.

Breaking the F-pattern — for example, putting important information in the bottom-right corner — will make it harder to find.

5. Go Easy On The Text

According to a study, people read only about 20% of the text on a page. Worse, on sites with more content, people dedicated only about 4 extra seconds for each additional 100 words of text.

In a world where people don’t read word-for-word, Nielsen Norman employs the following guidelines for scannable text.Highlighted keywords

Meaningful subheadings

Bulleted lists

One idea per paragraph

The inverted pyramid style — start with the conclusion

Half the word count (or less) of conventional writing

Color theory, weights, and contrast can be used to direct user attention. NASA’s cockpit design team uses luminance to help manage the pilot’s attention in an area crowded with competing for information. The cockpit design team uses color and contrast to give visual prominence to the most important elements.

Contrast and luminance are just a first step. Color theory suggests balancing your product’s colors by using the dominant color 60% of the time, secondary 30%, and accent 10%. This breakdown is consistent with the neuroscience behind what draws the eye. Because the accent color is used the least, it draws the eye the most.

Just as the use of bright color can draw the eye, use of more muted colors can help a user determine which information is secondary or less important. For example, most websites use footer areas with a more neutral color to show separation from the rest of the information on the page.

Your User’s Memory Is Complex, But Their Recall Is Limited

In order to remember something, the human mind reconstructs memories. This explains why you could get four different versions of the same event from four different people.

Translating this knowledge into UX design, you mustn’t force users to remember too many steps when they use your product. If there are too many steps to recall, they are bound to forget a few.

It’s essential that your designs respect the restrictions of the brain’s cognitive load. If a user is forced to think too much in order to complete a task, they’re likely to avoid it in the future or to forget steps and become frustrated if they do try it again. Frustration does not create an optimal user experience.

A common web design best practice is to provide no more than three or four steps in any given user task. If you over-complicate your tasks, you run the risk of unpleasant user experience. This leads to lower quality website signals, lower search rankings, and of course, abandoned carts and lead generation forms.

A good solution is serial positioning, or the human brain’s tendency to best recall the first and last steps in a process. This is why many popular apps position “home” and “profile” either to the far left or the far right.

Wrapping Up

Your task as a designer is to come up with an efficient design that will help your users solve problems. Psychology is an essential factor in delivering on that objective in user experience. You need to understand the human psyche: how people come up with different thoughts and ideas to solve an issue. This way, you can create designs with true meaning and exceptional usability.

Adobe Photoshop Launched on iPad

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Last October, Adobe announced that it would soon be bringing its extremely popular photo-editing software Photoshop to iPads. Roughly a year later, the company has followed through and has released Photoshop on iPads. Adobe Photoshop is used heavily by the best graphic design companies and the top UX design firms.

Users of Apple’s tablets can download Adobe Photoshop on their device for free, and the download comes with a 30-day free trial. After the free trial period is over, users are required to pay $9.99 per month via in-app purchases if they want to continue using the app. They also have the option of including the app as part of a full Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

What can Photoshop on an iPad do?

The tablet version of the Adobe’s software works just like the desktop version and is compatible with any tablet that supports iPad iOS, including iPad Air, iPad Mini, the latest iPad, as well any iPad Pro model.

Even though it works the same way, Adobe has announced that the iPad version will not have all the features that the desktop version has. However, Photoshop for iPad Pro and the more recent models do support Apple Pencil and also allows users to edit PSD files.

According to Adobe, the iPad version will have a subset of the features found in the main application on desktops on the initial release. The plan is to add more features over time. There is also a possibility that certain features may never be added on the iPad version of the software since, over the many years of its development, Adobe Photoshop has acquired different techniques to get the same results.

Adobe has said that for the first release, it has focused on features that will make the most of touch and the input from Apple Pencil. These features include retouching and core compositing tools, as well as improvements such as brush and mask support. Other features like smart selection, will be installed later.

In other words, to give users the best experience possible on the iPad screen, the interface of the software has been designed to be as similar as possible to the desktop application. However, Adobe has also considered features that will benefit most from touch and Pencil rather than keyboard and mouse control.

Thanks to its same PSD file format that is used in the desktop version as well, both the versions can share documents with each other. This means that the versions are kept in sync through the online Library storage of Creative Cloud.

The new release will definitely make the software more accessible, and will likely be used extensively by enterprises such as a creative graphic design agency.

RCS Messaging

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

The Promising Successor to SMS.

Rich Communication Services Messaging, or RCS Messaging, is a protocol that is designed to enhance and succeed what we know today as SMS or Short Message Service. As a protocol between phone manufacturers and mobile operators, the goal is to eventually replace SMS and MMS so users can have a more enhanced texting experience designed by the best UI UX design services.

First formed in 2007, the GSM Association (GSMA) took over RCS, and in 2016, the members of GSMA, which are several mobile operators across the globe, agreed on a Universal Profile. This was a set of standards that every mobile operator, phone manufacturer, and software providers can follow to help implement rich communication services messaging on mobile devices.

What is the need for RCS messaging?

Despite its shortcomings compared to popular messaging apps like Messenger and WhatsApp, SMS is still very popular today. Many users, both individuals, and businesses continue to use it even though it lacks features like group messaging features, read receipts, and fun, animated stickers.

Text messages can only be 160 characters in length and not a character more, which means that you have to keep them short and concise. On top of this, if you don’t have a mobile signal, or if you are on roaming, you cannot send a text message since the service depends on a cellular connection.

Ever since SMS was first proposed in 1982 and developed in the 90s, they haven’t been improved much since today. Especially when you compare them to advanced and user-friendly messaging apps today that support all kinds of features, SMS seem to be a thing of the past. Yet, it remains the most commonly used feature on a smartphone since 97 percent of smartphone users still communicate using text messages.

This is where Rich Communication Services messaging comes in. It combines all the best features of popular messaging apps today such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and iMessage to give users a platform that will be the successor of SMS.

As a result of the work of top UX design firms, RCS will look very similar to iMessage and other popular messaging platforms we use today. It is more interactive than SMS, allowing users to form group chats, send high-resolution images, as well as audio and video messages. It will also have features like reading receipts and will show you in real-time when someone is replying to your message.

RCS messaging is championed heavily by the GSMA, as well as the biggest names in tech such as Google and Android, Samsung, along with many other mobile phone manufacturers and carriers.

Airbnb Now Bookable with Bitcoin and Lightning Network via Fold App

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

One of the most popular Bitcoin payments app Fold has recently announced that users can now book Airbnb using the app. The short-term rental giant is now a part of Fold’s rewards program known as Fold Kickbacks, which supports Lightning Network (LN), Bitcoin’s second layer. It allows users to buy gift cards for Bitcoin with a reward of 3 percent cashback.

This means that with every stay and/or experience booked on Airbnb using Fold, users can get 3 percent cashback in Bitcoin (BTC). The announcement is surely an exciting feature on the Fold Kickbacks rewards program, which already has some well-known brands such as Uber, Amazon, and Starbucks.

Currently, the Fold app only works in few selected countries such as the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Soon, Europe is expected to be able to use the app as well.

Fold facing new competition

The Fold may be among the oldest and the biggest Bitcoin shopping rewards apps in the market today, but it definitely isn’t alone app. There are several similar apps that have come up in recent years, offering users with an increasing number of options to “stack sats”.

One of the biggest competitors of Fold may be Lolli, which has partnered with Petco, a popular American pet retailer. In addition to this, the Bitcoin rewards shopping app also partnered with Safeway, a huge grocery chain in the US in order to provide users with an attractive offer of 3.5 percent cashback in BTC on all of the purchases they make at Safeway.

In an attempt to stay ahead of the competition and provide users with more payment options, Fold added a new feature that allows the app to accept fiat currency as payment at in-store and online retailers apart from Bitcoin. Users can do so by adding either their Bitcoin Lightning wallet or credit card. This new feature was added after the firm managed to raise $2.5 million in late September 2019.

Even Asia is not far behind and is rolling out Bitcoin rewards shopping options. Earlier this year, Amaten, which is the largest gift card platform in Japan announced that it partnered with Aelf, a blockchain network provider in order to issue tokenized gift cards to users.

With the growing popularity of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, we can expect to see more of similar services in the coming years with investors, tech companies and top UX design firms working together to bring improved services.

How to Design Great UI for Your Website

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Website design UI is an intricate discipline that dictates how users interact with your website and your brand. A good website should always focus on the user while they are on the site so that they can deliver a smooth and seamless user interface.

Below, we take a look at how you can deliver such an experience for a web design project.

Everything users need should be easily accessible

One of the most important rules to follow is to make everything easily accessible for the users. When people visit your website, they should be able to find everything they need quickly so that navigating through the site becomes easy. Otherwise, they will likely get frustrated and leave your site, thereby increasing your bounce rate.

This means that you should organize your tools using tabs, hover tooltips, shortcuts, etc. every option or button should be clearly labelled so as to avoid confusion.

Be smart about element placement and design

All the elements of your website should be well designed and strategically placed so that it supports a smooth UI. A common rule is that the most important functions should be placed at the top of the page so users don’t have to struggle to find them. They should also be larger and generally more prominent. When users scan a page, they usually go from left to right, and top to bottom, so make use of this when it comes to element placement.

Color and contrast, and whitespace are also important elements that can help guide users through your page.

Help users understand what is going on by giving feedback

By providing your users with feedback while they are on your site, you help them understand what is going on. For example, if they press a button that downloads something, you can notify them that the button was successfully clicked on by making the button appear to sink into the page. You can also let them know that the download is in progress by adding an icon that shows the download progress. The idea here is to assure your users by acknowledging that an action has been taken.

Follow design standards

This may sound simple and silly but it is something that many designers need to be reminded of. If design standards work well, there is no need to try something completely different. Visitors to your site are already used to certain design standards such as certain icons standing for something or element placements, and it’s best to carry over these standards to your site as well.

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Get In Touch

Ask Us Anything !

Do you have experience in building apps and software?

What technologies do you use to develop apps and software?

How do you guys handle off-shore projects?

What about post delivery support?