Whitespace is becoming an increasingly popular design element for websites. The termwas originally coined in print design and describes “the absence of text and graphics”. At the same time, whitespace is more than an empty space. It’s also “the overall airiness or density of the page including space between lines of type (leading), text offset around graphics, size of margins, and heaviness or lightness of the fonts”.
23 August, 2013
13 February, 2013
1. Refresh your understanding
People change and businesses and brands change too, so refreshing your research to make sure you really do understand your current and future customers is a great place to start!
Try to make sure you know their habits so you can match your brand to people’s underlying tendencies and wants. Analytics are good at showing you what is happening, but not why. We find that looking at the stories behind decisions and interactions can help you spot something key, giving you that extra edge this year!
Good qualitative research bolstered by quantitative statistics and analytics will validate the decisions you are making, boost success and encourage innovation. We find diary studies give great insights, and are a good qualitative research method to start with.
2. Moving online offline (and vice-versa)
Last year, we did a lot of research into the merits of an omni-channel approach to business and customer experience. We found it to be extremely insightful - the things we took away from it in terms of quick wins and innovations is to look past the technology and observe the behaviours behind them is integral to omni-channel success.
For instance, taking the drivers and benefits that customers really appreciate when shopping online at home and bringing similar conveniences and experiences in-store will support your customers needs much better. (Take a look at the Burberry flagship store for some inspiration!) I’m looking forward to seeing how brands continue to move the online experience offline and the offline experience online as the customer experience becomes smoother, easier and ultimately much more satisfying.
3. Get lean get agile
Two important approaches to user experience that have been gaining traction in recent years are agile and lean UX. Essentially, agile UX speeds up software development whereas Lean UX is an approach which speeds up the design process of new digital products.
If you’re fighting for a user centered approach in your organisation and it isn’t moving as fast as you would like, then maybe adopting parts of these approaches will help – agile and lean UX promise quick sprint development, faster research, and overall less waste to get digital assets to market in a faster, more competitive time frame.
There are a few steps to follow to get this going in your organisation:
- First, you need a good customer experience strategy to help guide the direction of faster developments, so get your vision together and documented with targets and objectives for your brand or business in relation to customer experience. (In true agile and lean style, this strategy can change along the way with new findings, but it is key to have it there at the beginning.)
- Next instil the agile culture in your teams. Get them to think about processes and break them down into outcomes and resources, rearrange them to see how agile or lean UX could look. Physically doing this with post-its or cutting up printed process diagrams might work best.
- Finally, get going. You need to try it and then adapt to make it work for your business. This is about streamlining the user experience design processes and making it faster and adaptable – so don’t take too long contemplating it when you could be designing something!
What are your 2013 UX resolutions? We would love to know so please leave a comment below. If you are looking to give your customer experience new lease of life in 2013 but aren’t sure where to start, get in touch and we can help you have a great year!
21 January, 2013
Redesign Trend in Tech News Sites: Big, Responsive and Content Heavy
There’s a new trend in the redesign of technology news sites, which has emerged with the move towards responsive designs. The new wave of redesigns sees the old blog format being transformed into a full-screen, app-like experience, with multiple columns, fixed position elements and a global navigation bar at the top of the page.
So let’s see some examples. Here is The Next Web:
And here’s ReadWrite:
Here are some of the shared attributes of these designs:
Responsive design taking up the whole or most of the screen Wide, simplified navigation bar at the top of the page Navigation bar drop down menus on mouse hover Fixed sidebar columns, or columns that scroll independently Big typography, especially for headlines
Most headlines coupled with images Flat style, and flat, single color icons
There’s a lot to like. The new designs are responsive, meaning that they adapt to the device that you happen to be using to view them, showing more content on larger screens, and collapsing the columns one by one for smaller devices. On a smaller screen the content is still there, it just gets moved down or gets put away in a drop down menu. The typography centered style is also a good change, pacifying the aesthetic eagerness of the early Web with the restrained elegance of print.
But there are also things about this trend that I dislike. I don’t mean the concept of responsive websites, which is good, but rather the certain characteristics of the implementation that we see in the examples above.
My main issue with these redesigns is that instead of building the site like a physical page, they treat it like a canvas for an app. Scrolling the page up or down does not guarantee that the whole of the page will move. Some columns are fixed and will remain where they are no matter how far you scroll. Some columns scroll independently, forcing you to move your cursor over them to scroll the content within them. It feels like the solid page that we’re all used to has been shattered into little pieces that may or may not behave the way you think they will.
There are other annoyances. For whatever reason, scrolling is often laggy, which is made much worse on sites that load content as you scroll down. Most of these sites also choose to show up pop up menus on mouse hover, which are oftentimes fairly large. Should you accidentally move your mouse over the area you’ll see a portion of the page blocked by a menu item you never wanted to see. To fix the situation you’re forced to move the cursor outside the menu, all the while making sure you don’t accidentally move it over something else that will generate another pop up. It’s just plain annoying.
While I like the style direction, I think these sites are trying a little too hard to work like apps, and in doing so, they surrender the strengths of the plain website, namely: simple, responsive navigation mechanisms. Simple sites don’t lag and don’t have any ambiguous navigation elements. They behave like a page, which, while being a constraint, is not necessarily a bad thing. The new wave of responsive redesigns in tech news sites certainly look good with their nice typography and healthy use of whitespace, but they feel heavy, they don’t feel right in the browser. They look more like apps but the speed and responsiveness of a native app just isn’t there.
What do you think? Do you like these new designs, or do you agree with me that they’re trying a little too hard to break away from the physical page metaphor? Leave your comment below.
by: Dmitry Fadeyev