27 May, 2014

USER EXPERIENCE GUIDELINES YOU’RE OVERLOOKING

The success of a business will majorly depend on the user experience guidelines that have been set in order to improve its prosperity. This is because the business must ensure the clients are not experiencing difficulty when they try to get access to whichever information or perform a certain function in the company’s interface. If you follow the paramount principles of user experience clearly, you will be sure of an increased satisfaction of users in relation to your company’s interface. 

USER EXPERIENCE GUIDELINES


1. UTILIZE FORM LABELS ABOVE THE FIELD

The perfect place to place a form label in is above the fields, according to a study carried out. Too many people place forms on the left of part of the field, thus, creating a layout of 2 columns. This may seem appealing, but on the other hand, it is difficult to use. The reason behind this is because the form is usually vertically oriented, thus, users fill them from top to bottom. It would be easier to follow the label downwards than is sideways. 

2. Have Clearly Displayed Faces

On a Web page, the user will normally focus on people’s eyes and faces, which should be a great way to attract the attention of many users. Another interesting aspect is that users focus on the direction of the face, that is, where the person on the image is looking at. If the face is looking sideways, the user will also change directions and be less interested. Always consider a clear face image that faces at the user directly to draw more attention.

3. The Design Quality

The quality of the design is a clear sign of the web’s credibility. Like the saying, user will judge the ‘book’ by its ‘cover’. Your Book (website) will determine on how people will be attracted to its cover (design). Aspects like the typography, layout, color, consistency and style will determine how the users will notice and judge your website. The images you display will also determine majorly. Ensure everything, including the images are relevant to your audience. 

4. Avoid too Much Scrolling

Most of the users do not like too much scrolling. Studies show that around 70% of the visitors will not scroll down your page, all they do is view the content in the visible part on the screen. For that reason, always keep your principal content on the upper fold of your page. Nevertheless, don’t jut pile all the content in the above page fold because over-crowding content can also keep users bored. The name of the website and what will benefit the users should be placed on the main page and upper fold.

5. Let Your Links Be Blue

It’s good to be unique when you are designing your business website, nevertheless, it is important to follow the user experience guidelines. This is because people tend to follow the same process they used in another website to get to a certain destination. They also expect that something should be default, things like link colors, the website’s logo location and others. The link color should be darker or lighter than the background color. They should also be different from the rest of the text. Research shows that a blue link is easier to view and use than other colors. This is because many people are used to blue links.

6. The Best Search Box Should be 27 Characters wide

Some people tend to use shorter search boxes, which only display a section of a long inputted text in the box. It is recommended that you employ a search box of 27 characters, which according to the study, contained around 90% of the searched queries. You can set the width using Ms and not just points and pixels. A wider search box is better than a shorter one and has many advantages.

7. White Space Enhances More Understanding

A lot of web designers understand how important white space is, that is the space between pictures, paragraphs or buttons in the page. The space between items shows the relationship between the two and the items can be grouped by either increasing or reducing the spaces. The white space also enhances the readability of content, therefore, utilize them well. 

8. The User Testing Should Be Short Enough

A study showed that best number of tests that users carry out should be short enough, to increase the feedback positivity. If the test is extra detailed, there are chances that most of your website problems will be indicated in the tests. Always stick to none or just a single test for your users.

9. An Educational Product Page Is An Added Advantage

If you have a product page website, many people will surf through them, nevertheless, there are some sites that lack enough information on the products being sold. This is bad since the information on the products will lure customers more than just a product with prices and contact information. The information should also be easy to read and educational enough.

10. Avoid Too Much Advertising

Evidently, many people hate destructions and some are just not attracted to that extra flashy stuff. If you have a website that is flocked with ads of all sorts of banners and flash images, it will actually chase away your users. Users also tend to ignore anything that looks like an ad, therefore, as you design your website, consider the user viewpoint. 

Conclusion

Generally, as you are trying to design your website to be captivating enough, always remember that it is not a photograph that you will hang on your wall at home or a profile picture that you wouldn’t mind whom it pleases. A web page should be captivating and in addition to that, it should focus on the user. If you put too much stuff, it may be difficult to follow, if you put too little, it may be so cheap and empty, always be informative in whatever you post in your site. These user experience guidelines should help you come up with an eye-catching website that will satisfy your user and make them always want to visit again for another time.

22 May, 2014

Building User Confidence with User Experience (UX) Design

Increasing user confidence online is a constant challenge that both website owners and entrepreneurs face. With the prevalence of scams and frauds in the online community, creating an environment where users feel comfortable interacting, using and buying from a website is essential. User Experience (UX) design is an essential step towards building user confidence and increasing both sales and your user base. (Lead image source: Intel Free Press)

Make it Easy

Website owners have less time than ever to impress and entice potential customers to learn more about their site. While some insist that tech savvy users require different interfaces than casual Internet users, a frustrating design is still a frustrating design. Users of varying technical abilities want a system that works smoothly and seamlessly.
Creating a site that is intuitive for new users but complex enough to engage experienced users is a difficult tightrope to walk. Facebook is a textbook example of how a user friendly website can become unfriendly and unresponsive to new users through continual updates. What was once a very easy to navigate site is now covered in strange icons, making it nearly impossible to navigate paths to gather information. On the other hand, sites like Reddit and Gmail have continually worked to gather new users while increasing the usability and utility of the site for experienced users. Rather than making the sites more complicated to engage seasoned users, both sites expanded on the base options to make their sites more immersive instead. Users want to feel engaged and confident in site navigation, regardless of experience.


Using user experience to build user confidence doesn’t just encourage users to become frequent visitors and customers of the interface, it also gives them the confidence to recommend the system to others. Regardless of the features, a site that is difficult to use will never become the go-to recommendation for anyone other than hardcore users. Use user experience design to ensure both seasoned and new users feel comfortable in their ability to gather information and use the site properly.


Provide Clear Information

Internet users are warier than ever about disclosing personal information and data. With widespread data breaches in personal email accounts and state governments alike, being transparent with user information and accessibility to that information is imperative for building user trust. Luckily for us, finding a balance between User Experience and Security is possible.

Providing a disclosure policy on a website that is easy to find provides users with a degree of trust. Rather than digging through fine print or scouring the site’s policies, this transparency and openness with the distribution (or lack thereof) of data contributes to user confidence in both the developer and the site. Sites like Zappos even go so far as to disclose their privacy policy and safeguards against consumer identity theft on a separate ‘Shop with Confidence’ page to assure customers of their online safety before they put a single item in their cart. Clear information boosts the credibility of websites – something which is essential especially in e-commerce.


Prioritize User Testing

It’s said that the closer you are to a project, the harder it is to view it objectively. UX is no different. User confidence is reliant on a working system. Often, users don’t blame the system for their troubles, they blame themselves. A poorly executed error message will have users reassessing their own use rather than blaming coding errors. These users will become frustrated and ultimately leave the site entirely, never realizing a quick email or call to the company could yield the desired results.

Even more damaging is when users associate a site or interface with computer crashes or consistent errors. While small hiccups in programming may seem innocuous, they degrade any trust or respectability in a site to a regular online user, losing sales and users. Consistent error messages or an inability to use the features of a site send a red flag to users. This alerts them that the developers didn’t care enough to present a completed project, creating a breach of trust when disclosing new data.

User testing is by far the best and easiest way to ensure users are getting a positive experience. While a developer may never think to enter a symbol into a search function, a user with limited online experience may accidentally do just that, alerting developers to a flaw in the usability. This testing ensures that users of all abilities can successfully navigate the site.


Pay Attention to the Details

Often, high arching goals like creating a smooth interface or providing clear sight lines cause developers to lose sight of the basics. No matter how quickly a site loads or how nicely it is laid out, a site riddled with spelling errors or broken buttons will stand out for all the wrong reasons. Simple spelling mistakes drastically undermine user confidence in the business, product or site and lead to a decrease in sales and use. According to eConsultancy, up to 18% of revenue can be put at risk due to website errors. This impact on the bottom line makes attention to detail a first priority when developing a positive user experience.

While user testing may unearth some missed details, a full appraisal of a site and its content is important before going live. Whether it’s hiring a full-time editor or a part-time auditor for content error, catching and preventing these nuanced mistakes that crush user confidence is pivotal. Large online retailers may be able to absorb or overcome misspelled descriptions or broken links, but a smaller website simply doesn’t have the clout or proven track record to risk disclosing personal information. Double and triple checking content and site usability is a simple way to increase user confidence, no redesign necessary.


In Conclusion

UX doesn’t just create a pretty way for users to see and interact with a website. It provides an invaluable service for businesses by providing an attractive and respectable platform that encourages use, sells product sand gathers customer information. Creating a user experience bent towards improving user confidence in the brand, business or website enhances the user experience while strengthening the business it represents.

20 May, 2014

2014 MOBILE UX DESIGN TRENDS: EMBRACING MINIMAL

For the past few years we’ve experienced a steady lean toward minimalist design of digital space. As new technologies, such as higher screen resolutions and faster networks, influence the aesthetics of digital surface, our decisions in choosing the right approach for designing mobile interfaces will further shape user interactions and behaviors.

Living the flat world

Flat design is based on the principal of: “focusing on simplicity and clarity to ease functionality and emphasize usability”. Popularity of flat user interfaces (UI) emerged recently with Windows metro style and iOS 7. In a series of minimalist trends that rose during the past couple of years, 2014 seems to be the year that Flat UI will mature and become even more ubiquitous.

The basic influence of this approach on the graphical user interface (GUI) was the departure from skeuomorphism and elimination of gradients, shadows, textures, reflections and beveled edges. With all these limitations, the question is raised: how is dimension or depth implemented in flat UI design?

The answer goes back to the original principal of Flat design: embracing the strength of digital interface. In Flat design, depth is simulated with the combination of two main qualities:

1. Interactions such as parallax scrolling and behavior-learning responses
2. Visual clarity such as contrast in monochromatic themes, minimal use of colors, big font and less text, use of spaces and blocks instead of lines, and blurring backgrounds

Flat Icons (TriplAgent) are quick to design, scale well and blend with any visual design theme.
Sherpa, a personal assistant app that learns user habits, behaviors, and provides information that is of interest to the user.
Monochromatic or minimal use of colors (Univit) along with use of blocks and spaces instead of lines make the tap zones very clear to the user while providing a good look.
Blurred background used to set context and draws the user’s attention to focused content.

Making BIG impressions

Today, capturing a moment is a tap away. Quality photos are everywhere and taste in aesthetics is changed to own the accessible, resulting in more pleasing images on apps and mobile websites.

Higher-screen resolutions brought the affordance to go big on fonts and images. With new technologies designers are able to play more with contrast and crisp visual effects.

Last year we saw the design of websites gravitate towards single-page websites, full-screen images, and HTML video streams on landing pages, similar to Nike’s Jordan website. These designs aim to make a big first impression upon website arrival. Carrying over the same effects to mobile platforms is challenging, but doing so becomes imperative as the use of responsive design becomes more common. As a result, this year we will experience a smooth translation of same effects on mobile platforms where we’ll see more of:

Full-screen quality photo backgrounds
Big fonts as well as combinations of font sizes and font types
Single-page apps and sites that focus most user interaction on one screen
A mobile-first design sensibility (more on mobile-first & responsive design)

Big fonts and font combinations
Full screen photos (Bloom*) with condensed navigation menu
Single Pages (Nike Training Club)

Designing for short attention spans

Aside from games and other long engagement programs, mobile applications are mostly used for performing a series of quick and straightforward tasks, similar to the Move app that tracks daily activity. That pushes the interface to:

1. Learn user behavior, predict and suggest the relevant content when it is needed and where it is appropriate.
2. Communicate the content visually with hierarchy so that the user spends the least amount of time possible in locating and performing a task.
A good example of communicating with a visual hierarchy is the concept of cards, which was introduced last year by Google Now. Even though the concept had been used before with window “live tiles” or in print magazines’ feature stories, popular apps like Evernote or Pinterest use a similar concept today. Cards design enables apps to provide separate, well-designed snippets of information or interactions for their users. Big photos catch their attention, while brief texts confirm that the interaction would interest the users and tapping the cards would engage them with more detail. Scanning content feels more relaxed as it appears more intuitive and in line with user behavior as opposed to purposeful searching of web content.
Cards design (Evernote)

Cards design (Google Now)

The 2014 design aesthetic is about embracing minimalism beyond the surface aspect of user interface. It also involves designing for user interactions and optimizing those interactions visually and behaviorally to emphasize the functionality of the digital space in mobile platforms.

As brands grow their mobile presence, the bar is raised for both aesthetics presentation and user experience of the mobile interface. It is important for businesses to evolve the mobile experience to meet expectations and crucial to keep an eye on how these trends develop.