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Top 10 animated 404 pages was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: Design

Better ways to ask 5 common user interview questions

Tue, 12/10/2019 - 04:57

How to ask questions that uncover deep insights about users’ behaviors without injecting personal biases.

Categories: Design

Instagram Explains How it Uses AI to Choose Content for Your Explore Tab?

Tue, 12/10/2019 - 02:50

Bringing you closer to the people and things you love

Categories: Design

Master Digital Transformation with the Financial UX Design Methodology

Tue, 12/10/2019 - 02:49

To successfully transform financial services into demanded digital products, we use reverse engineering. It’s a top-down approach that begins with defining the ultimate value for customers and ends with an action plan that includes architecture and design. This is the only way to ensure maximum user satisfaction and high demand in the digital age. In this article, we explore proven user-centered design methodologies that help digital financial products stand out among competitors.

post by Alex Kreger, financial UX Strategist/Founder of UX Design Agency

Over a period of 10 years, we have tested and put into practice more than 100 UX design methods and techniques. Based on results and insights gained, we developed our own unique Financial UX Design methodology. In previous articles, we covered the first two components of this unique approach: the Product Value Pyramid and the Design Pyramid, that help to define a digital product strategy, as well as implement the financial UX design approach in business development. In the final article of this series, I introduce you to the UXDA Workflow Pyramid, which demonstrates what practical steps you need to take to design a customer-centric product based on the value it brings to the users.

Digital Transformation Empowered by Design

UXDA’s Workflow Pyramid is based on three complementary approaches: Design thinking, BUP (Business, User, Product) frame and UX design tools. Design thinking provides a methodical, iterative approach to explore and serve the key user needs. To ensure overall success, it’s not enough to think solely about the product. We have to take into account the interaction between business, users and the product, defining the possibilities and benefits of each. BUP frame allows us to do that. And, finally, UX design tools provide the best way to execute the whole process of Design thinking and the BUP approach, ensuring effective results-based financial product transformation.

First stage: Design thinking

The base level of the UXDA Workflow Pyramid creates a solid ground for the overall framework. Design thinking is a well-known approach used by the world’s leading digital technology companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft. It divides the workflow into five, key action-based steps: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test.

Empathize to understand

To identify the value your product can offer customers, we must step into the users’ shoes and feel their pain as if it were our own. Discovering their feelings, needs and desires by immersing ourselves into the world of our users allows us to understand the context of the product usage.

People are surprised by the insights they gain in the empathize stage as they often differ dramatically from their initial assumptions.

Empathizing through research provides a much more thorough perspective on the problems customers actually face.

For example, by researching the users of a specific financial product, we find that most of them are family-oriented individuals. It turns out they are concerned with a number of issues related to managing the family budget, often resulting in conflicts damaging the family relationships. The main difficulties are caused by different accounts for spouses and children and the need for transaction approvals that slow down and complicate the process. It also causes a struggle for joint financial management and budget planning, making our cherished relationships even more challenging.

Define to set focus

At the next step, we systemize the information we have gained in the emphasize stage, analyzing and prioritizing observations. Our goal is to focus on the most important aspects that create key value for the user.

For example, if we understand the importance of great family relationships for our users, we can define the main functionality of our product to suit their needs and wants. Accordingly, we would provide a possibility of joint financial management as a key priority for this specific banking product.

Ideate to step outside of the box

Ideation consists of seeking the best ideas for implementing key user scenarios based on the discoveries and analyses of the two previous steps. Even non-standard solutions that we may think are crazy are very welcome, as we need to step “out of the box.” The most viable solutions are selected according to the objectives of the project.

Returning to the previously mentioned example, we can create an opportunity for spouses to view both accounts in one mobile application, allowing them to freely transfer money from one account to another. At the same time, they will have the opportunity to create a separate account for family savings with limited access. All family savings and spousal activities will be completely transparent and available in the “total” section. They may also find it useful to set budget limits or warnings to remove the source of conflict and increase joint control of overspending.

Prototype to test

Our task is to create a prototype product to put our hypotheses into practice. We need to create a simple, scaled-down version of our future service that would allow us to test the product without spending a lot of money on its development.For example, to quickly test a product hypothesis, it’s enough to draw a potential service interface on paper and include the features drawn from the empathize and define stages.

Test to make sure

Now, we proceed directly to the verification of the solution. We demonstrate the prototype to several potential customers by offering them a set of key scenarios and evaluating how easily they understand the principles of the product, what makes them struggle and the level of their interest. If most of the answers are positive, we can implement the needed adjustments and move to the product production. If they are not positive, we correct the hypothesis and repeat the process.

Design thinking offers a simple and affordable approach to human-centered development. Nevertheless, research shows that, to achieve successful results, it’s necessary to consider other crucial aspects. In particular, projects are created not only to meet the needs of users, but also to realize the goals of the business. Otherwise, we will get products that may be of interest to consumers but do not bring any value to the business.

Second Stage: Business User Product (BUP) Frame

Though the user is definitely at the center of attention when it comes to user-centered thinking, there are two more crucial elements we have to take into account for a satisfactory result.

The success of a financial product depends on three equally important components: business, user and product. Spending years studying and exploring the impact of UX on financial businesses, we made sure that, in order to create a delightful experience, we had to investigate how all of them interact with one other. That’s why we created the unique BUP frame.

Our goal is to move away from our individual biases and put ourselves in a position to focus on the benefits of all three elements. It’s not enough for us to only empathize the users; we also need to understand the company’s business model, its mission and values and the role of the product in the company’s future growth strategy.

We must also identify the technological capabilities of creating a product, as this has a direct effect on our ability to implement the insights discovered.This helps to create a balanced product that meets the needs of all interested parties and ensures digital transformation, not only for the product but for the whole business. Here’s an example of how a user-centered mindset changes the business mentality.

The second level of the UXDA Workflow Pyramid is closely connected to the first and third levels. We implement all five parts of the Design thinking process through a Business, User and Product perspective. In this way, we find, define and materialize the maximum value and gains for each of these components.

Third Stage: UX Design Tools

To achieve a great number of insights about the business, product and users, we need the proper tools. We have to uncover what kinds of actions we should take at each step of the Design thinking process to move from idea to a useful range of data and then to a customer demanded solution. At UXDA, we achieve this by using a broad set of tested and efficient UX tools and methods. This is the third level: the peak of the UXDA’s Workflow Pyramid.

For example, the range of UX techniques we use to Empathize the User, Business and Product include:

  • Stakeholder Interview
  • User Interview
  • Ethnographic Research
  • Competitive Audit
  • Features Audit
  • Heuristic Evaluation.

This allows us to collect the necessary data and identify the financial product challenge context from all these points of view, which are often missed.

At the next steps, we use:

  • Card Sorting
  • JTBD (Jobs-To-Be-Done)
  • Key Personas
  • Empathy Map
  • Red Route Analysis
  • Kano Model
  • User Journey Map
  • Information Architecture
  • User Flows
  • Wireframes
  • UI Prototype
  • Usability Testing, etc.

We have described and demonstrated the use of the key UX tools in our previous case studies listed below.

Case Study: Banking Back-Office Transformation Allows You to Expand Globally

UX Design Guide: How to Create The Most Beautiful Banking App in the World

How to Design UI/UX of a Mobile-Only Challenger Bank

FinTech Case Study: Our Vision of “Future Online Banking”

All of these tools are used with one core purpose─to uncover the value for customers and design a digital financial product that delivers this value through the best possible experience. This results in a product that’s easy to use, helps its users, solves their problems and creates delightful emotions.

UX connects all of these aspects (and more), improving the product’s success rate and reducing the risk of failure. This approach can be used not only for new service design, but also for any financial service transformation.

Not everyone who has a brush is a painter

There’s an important aspect we recommend you to consider. The techniques described in this article are the foundation for creating a great financial user experience, but these methods can deliver results only in a context of use that’s provided by UX architect and UI designer expertise. It’s crucial to understand that a straightforward implementation of the needs identified by the users do not always make sense for business or result in customer demand. Otherwise, instead of designing a car, Henry Ford would have started breeding faster horses.

New age, new rules

This article completes a series of publications revealing the essence and principles of Financial UX Methodology by UXDA. Nevertheless, the idea of our approach to creating successful digital solutions will be incomplete without the UXDA concept described below.

In this graph, we demonstrate two different approaches to gain business success in the recent past and in the digital present.

Marketing age

In the recent past, FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) products dominated the market and determined business principles, user behaviors and the mindset of successful entrepreneurs.

One of the core challenges of that time was to find ways to sell millions of goods in a world of high competition, distribution barriers and expensive promotion. To overcome this gap, marketing became the key concept to ensure success.

To make a profit in the marketing age, you had to operate in the right way, using the basis of marketing methodology: the 4Ps (Product, Price, Promotion, Place). For example, it wasn’t enough to have a recipe for a tasty drink to conquer the market. You had to create attractive packaging, work on the distribution to stores, choose the right price to compete with other drinks and ensure remarkable above and below-the line promotion to generate demand.

This was a standard way to conquer market share─ consumers get a desire for the product by a “tasty” ad, and, at the local store, they notice the product in front of them once more on the first shelf, right at eye level, surrounded by POS (point of sale) advertising at a glance. They put the product in the basket and
 voila! Mission complete!

Digital age

The digitalization of the world has completely changed the rules of the game. Digital products differ from FMCG because they have the capability to be easier and faster, adapting to the growing customer expectations and needs. Digital products also have direct distribution and don’t need mediators or expensive offline logistics. Digital products can serve customers directly from any place in the world. All you need is a good internet connection. Digital promotion is also accessible to everyone through social networks and content aggregators even in the absence of an advertising budget. Digital pricing models have become so advanced that you can make a profit without even selling a product, for example from third-party advertising or commissioning. This generates a wide range of product opportunities for customers to choose from.

Which products will the customer choose? The one that solves their problems in the easiest, quickest and most pleasant way, of course. The lack of a delightful experience often creates a gap on the product’s path to digital demand.

This way, an experience becomes the main differentiator in the digital age. It doesn’t mean that marketing is no longer needed, but, at the end of the day, it will not save your digital product from an unpleasant user experience.

The main difference between being a successful entrepreneur in the marketing age and digital age is to switch the focus from selling to delivering a valuable experience. What was efficient to bridge the market gap a few decades ago has now become a waste of time and money because of digital disruption. Instead of conquering the market share, we should make our products a significant part of our customers’ lifestyle using the power of design.

Accordingly, we must use different tools to achieve that. Instead of marketing methodology and the 4Ps comes the three pyramids of the Financial UX Design methodology. Instead of perceiving customers as targets to manipulate and make a profit, we develop a brand new mindset of treating users as friends and serving their needs.

There are many who seem to adapt well to this ideology, having posters on the wall saying “we have now become a user-centered company” and using UX, CX and Design thinking as buzzwords in marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, these are often just empty words that are not based on cultural shifts or actions. In such cases, UX is used just as another marketing tool because it’s trendy.

Maybe this can attract media attention, but it will not help create a demanded digital product. An experience approach doesn’t help if you are stuck in the mindset of the marketing age. Users easily detect such tricks and express their concerns through social media platforms.

Throughout the years working with multiple financial organizations, we have ensured that true success in the digital age is guaranteed only if the company is open to the new rules of the game and eager to work hard on implementing them. If you want to gain success in the digital age, you have to adapt an experience mindset, centered on user needs, feelings and behaviors.

It all starts with ourselves. Only by switching from a marketing mindset to an experience mindset can it be possible to create a business culture that’s able to use the power of design to bridge the gap between failure and success.

Only you can make this shift, and our Experience mindset guide can help you see the path.

All of the frameworks and techniques revealed by UXDA’s Financial Methodology trilogy allow the creation of next-level financial products by focusing on the value. It’s a very powerful approach that delivers astounding results to financial companies worldwide. However, keep in mind that this only works if implemented closely with a human-centered mindset, knowledge of user psychology, mental flexibility and experience in developing financial services, deep analytical thinking and other required skills for a UX architect and UX/UI designer of financial products in the digital age.

The UXDA team wishes you good luck in creating the next generation of financial products! If you have any questions or need assistance with your own financial UX design challenge, we are always here to help.

Originally published on

Master Digital Transformation with the Financial UX Design Methodology was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: Design

32 best design-ish portfolios — end of 2019 edition

Tue, 12/10/2019 - 00:50

Driving around a portfolio? Now available!

Categories: Design

5 User Interface for Meditation App

Mon, 12/09/2019 - 07:24

The best UI made for a meditation app

Categories: Design

The Paradox of Specificity: What It Is and How It Works

Mon, 12/09/2019 - 01:22

Run around in UX design circles for long and you’ll certainly hear some talk about the “paradox of specificity.” But what is it, really? Don’t be deceived by its name — it’s not as technical or theoretical as it sounds.

Let’s unpack what the Paradox of Specificity is, four products that have resulted from this lovely little paradox coming in to play, and how to put this paradox into practice in your own design work.

  1. What is the Paradox of Specificity?
  2. Products that embody the Paradox of Specificity
  3. How to put the Paradox of Specificity to use in your own design work
  4. A final word
1. What is the Paradox of Specificity?

The Paradox of Specificity, simply put, tells us that adapting our efforts to the needs of a more specific audience creates solutions that are useful to a much broader set of needs. For example, rather than trying to meet the needs of all your users, look at how to help a very specific user, or a set of users with the most specific needs. According to the Paradox of Specificity, chances are you’ll end up with a product or solution that meets the needs of a much bigger audience. Putting this theory to the test in your design work can have results that are good for your customers and for business.

But enough talk about the concept — let’s look at it in practice!

2. Products that embody the Paradox of SpecificityRollaboard SuitcasePhoto by MichaƂ Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Think of the last time you traveled — whether by air, land, or sea. Unless you’re a backpacker through and through, or dedicated to that vintage travel trunk your great aunt gave you, chances are you packed at least some of your belongings into a rollaboard suitcase. This handy piece of luggage is widely used and stands as a classic example of the Paradox of Specificity.

The rollaboard suitcase has its beginnings in the 1970s with Bernard D. Sadow’s rolling luggage. This invention looked very much like a classic suitcase, with wheels on the bottom and a leather strap attached to a top corner so the traveler could pull the suitcase along behind them.

The rollaboard as we know it today was the invention of Robert Plath — a pilot who fixed wheels on the side of his suitcase and set it upright. The rollaboard was first marketed to pilots and flight crews — a relatively narrow audience. As it turned out, the product appealed to a much broader audience. These days, the rollaboard is easily the most commonly used type of luggage for people from all ages and backgrounds.

Swiss Army KnifePhoto by Paul Felberbauer on Unsplash

In some families, gifting a Swiss Army Knife to someone is a rite of passage. When that one birthday rolls around, it’s the gift you already know your dad or your brother or your favorite aunt or uncle will give you. Whether it’s used for household tasks, camping, work, parties, or travel, one thing is certain: the Swiss Army Knife has a massive user base with an incredibly broad range of functions for such a little knife to accomplish.

This product came as a response to the needs of another very narrow audience. In the late 1800s, the Swiss military wanted to provide its personnel with a versatile and portable tool to open canned food, disassemble rifles, and carry out other practical tasks. Enter Karl Elsener: a knife maker, inventor, and — according to Victorinox — social entrepreneur in Ibach, Switzerland. In 1891, Elsener invented and supplied the Swiss military with what would become the iconic utility knife, then officially known as the Schweizer Offiziersmesser.

Then came World War II, which led to the tool being introduced to a much broader market: Americans. The Swiss Army knife, and it’s many variations, is now widely used around the globe by countless people for a myriad of tasks.

OXO Good Grips PeelerPhoto by kurizo on Adobe Stock

Many of us know from (painful) experience that different vegetable peelers get the job done at varying levels of effort on the part of the user — probably having something to do with how much money we were willing to drop on a peeler. A standard utensil in most kitchens, a peeler is a product with a large user base faced with a very specific task to complete.

In 1989, Sam Farber, designed the OXO Good Grips peeler in an effort to create “more thoughtful cooking tools.” This was inspired by his wife, Betsey, whose arthritis made some common kitchen tasks difficult or even painful.

Farber considered the very specific needs of people with arthritis working in the kitchen and ended up with a product that makes life a little easier for just about anyone. The new and improved peeler turned out to be a big hit with a much wider audience and is even included in the Museum of Modern Art’s Smart Design collection.

The World Wide WebPhoto by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

In 1989, at a peak in a long evolutionary process, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. Yes, that Web. The one you’re accessing now; that you use the Internet to surf around and explore ideas and gather information and countless other tasks.

The Web was originally known as “The Mesh,” and was intended to facilitate information-networking between scientists and academics at universities and other institutions around the world — yet another very narrow audience with a specific set of tasks to complete.

While Buzzfeed quizzes and “fake news” may not have been in the original plans, the Web has undeniably become a fundamental part of what keeps the developed world functioning, connected, and rapidly evolving.

3. How to put the Paradox of Specificity to work in your own design process

So how does all of this factor into your daily work as a UX professional? It’s most useful in the early stages of developing a product or in ideating new or revised features for an existing product. It’s also a fantastic way to start thinking about how to make your designs more inclusive. Let’s unpack that.

The temptation is often to design for everyone, which is quite a task and can easily send a project running in too many directions all at once. At the same time, you don’t want a product that even unknowingly excludes users — that’s simply bad for business. So how do you strike a balance? This is where some intentional experimentation can make a difference: enter the Paradox of Specificity.

Practical examples

For the sake of illustration, let’s say we’re building a meal planning app together. Users will be able to find recipes, make shopping lists, and store and share their favorite recipes. We’re in the ideation phase, and we toy with the Paradox of Specificity by following a line of thought that starts with, “Who is the precise user we’re designing for?”

User personas and persona spectrums are fantastic tools to implement at this point as they’ll help us consider users with more specific needs. Let’s look at two examples: the first related to ability (widely applicable), and the second to dietary restrictions (not relevant to all projects, but certainly to our hypothetical scenario).

Designing for a difference in ability

We could start by looking at how our app would work for someone with permanent, limited use of one or both arms/hands. They want to do some meal planning, but it’s difficult and tiring (if not impossible) for them to do that without assistance on our app if everything requires touch. The resulting design might then include a voice interface that allows users to search for and share recipes, and make lists and notes — all hands-free.

Would this only benefit someone with a permanent condition? Absolutely not. It would benefit a user whose dominant hand is in a cast for several weeks, or one whose hands are currently occupied with, let’s say, washing dishes.

Designing for dietary restrictions

Perhaps we imagine our user to be part of a dietary support group that gathers once a month to share a meal. They want to find recipes that accomodate the group’s collective allergies or sensitivities, calculate the measurements for the number of people in the group, make a shopping list with the right ingredients and quantities, and share the recipes with members of the group who enjoyed the meal. That is a very specific audience and a very specific set of tasks to complete.

As we develop our app with these things in mind, perhaps we create a search feature that allows users to search for recipes by dietary restrictions, and another to include or exclude specific ingredients. We also create ways for them to save and share their favorite recipes, and comment on them publicly or privately.

Will these features only serve the very specific user we’ve had in mind? No. In fact, they may make the app even more usable by larger groups of users, including:

  • Families who want to get better at meal planning in general and want a more streamlined way to generate meal plans and shopping lists
  • Parents of picky eaters: They can’t get their toddler to eat broccoli, but they think they might be able to sneak some carrots into the mix. These parents could easily search for recipes that exclude one ingredient and include the other.
  • Individuals who are trying to find out their food sensitivities or who have recently been diagnosed with an allergy. We can provide easy customization of the experience from the very beginning.
  • Users who follow a vegetarian, vegan, kosher, or any other major diet.
  • Even people who aren’t concerned with food sensitivities or restrictions could find the recipe + shopping list + sharing + notes features useful!
4. A final word

So there you have it. Four examples of existing products that demonstrate the effect and value of the Paradox of Specificity, and just one example of the many ways you might experiment with the paradox in your design work.

Forrester’s Inclusive Design Imperative suggests that companies would benefit from designing for a smaller segment of their users. According to this report, many products are designed for 80% of their users, leaving the other 20% (those with more specific needs) to a less than ideal user experience. What if we started designing for the 20%?

Put the Paradox of Specificity to the test! Design for the 20% of your users who deal with more specific needs and see what happens. If history has anything to teach us — as it does in the examples of the rollaboard suitcase, the Swiss Army Knife, the OXO Good Grips peeler, and the World Wide Web — you’re likely to end up with a product that will benefit and provide a delightful experience to users you didn’t even know could benefit from your product.

About the author

Emerson is an Editor at CareerFoundry and a New Mexican transplant to Berlin. They’re a nonbinary human with an MFA in creative writing and a passion for UX design.

The Paradox of Specificity: What It Is and How It Works was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: Design

Top UI/UX Design Works for Inspiration — #82

Mon, 12/09/2019 - 00:42
Top UI/UX Design Works for Inspiration — #82UI & UX Design Inspiration

Every day most digital designers look for inspiration on sources like Dribbble. In a large stream of the works, it is very easy to miss some quality shots with small number of likes and comments.

We decided to change that and every week showcase some of the recent cool shots of young designers who didn’t get much attention of the community. Here they are:


Categories: Design

Discoverability in the Design Process

Mon, 12/09/2019 - 00:41

When it comes to discoverability in the Design Thinking Process, I’ve been questioned on that topic enumerable times, specifically how does that come around, what is the relationship between Product Ownership and the Design departments in those circumstances. This article aims to shed some light on how different scenarios come about, and how Designers can perform within them to collaboratively achieve solutions which resonate within the organization, and of course with customers/users.

Discoverability. Wikipedia states, “is the degree to which of something, especially a piece of content or information, can be found in a search of a file, database, or other information system.” Within the context of the Design Thinking process, particularly the first step of it, under the umbrella of “Understanding”, that typically means “Exploring” and “Empathizing” (truly exploring the problem and building a bridge to the user/customer who will in fact be using the solution being sought or potentially implemented). Discoverability is deeply associated with these tasks, since in essence, this is part of the design process that is tied with the genesis of an initiative/engagement. For the purpose of this article, I’m divide this topic in two segments: Discoverability driven by Product and secondly, Discoverability driven by Design Collaboration.

Discoverability driven by Product — Designers and Design Departments find themselves in a variety of situations, one of the most common of them being understanding and probing deeper into Requirements Documentation. Requirements documentation, typically provided by Product Owners and/or Business Analysts provide in essence, contextual information which allows the Design professionals to fully understand the expectations from a functional, behavioral and even business aspect, what a feature or product should in essence do. These are documents which can vary in scope and detail, but when done with a certain level of minutia, can provide a powerful source of information from which the Design process can evolve from. This document can be of course, the starting point for the “Exploration” topic I alluded previously, and it typically falls under the mantle of the Design Department, to give it further dimension, by amply nourishing that source of information with additional considerations, which should include: Market Research (including competitive analysis, both direct and indirect), Customer Support information/Customer Reviews (if there is none for a new product, assess and grasp expectations from what exists on the market), User Interviews and Testing (uncovering the interest that can potentially lie for a feature or product, even before investing a considerable time and resources on that initiative). Also consider Trends of the Specific Market and of the General Economy, uncovering demographics, localization considerations, multi-platform considerations, among other factors, which in essence, provide a context, a canvas, where this feature or idea will exist, allowing for its story to be better told (in essence, what does the product do, who does it do for, what circumstances does it require its existence — the Jobs to be Done methodology). It’s imperative that Designers and the Design Department collaborate frequently, since at this point, and moving into Design Sessions/Workshops, all this documentation will inform how the experience/architecture of the product/feature gets clarified, outlined and ultimately built.

Discoverability driven by Design — A parallel situation/scenario to the one previously described, places itself on a very different side of the spectrum. The inception of a feature/product, comes indeed from Business/Senior Leadership, who collectively identify a segment where potential revenue and brand expansion lie. And Design becomes a partner with Product groups, in fully defining what shape does that take. This typically marries a lot of what was outlined on the previous point when it comes to context/canvas definition and research. Design professionals, should in such instances, define and gather against an even broader scope for what is being tackled. It’s fundamental to understand the evolution of markets and trends (in the past for instance, when working on Fitness applications, it was fundamental for myself and my department, to fully understand the evolution of Health related metrics across the decades, and also across demographics and countries, in order to surface where unhealthy trends occurred, at what demographics, genders, all of this information permeating across the discoverability process, and further informing the testing process). All these sources of information, come into play when the Definition of the problem comes into play, typically surfaced in Design Workshops/Sessions, where all the research across different topics inform what is being talked about, and where product journeys and user journeys are finally rendered. These journeys in turn inform what the feature or product will go about doing, in what circumstances, all in the hopes of delivering productive and rewarding results for clients (and for the organization). In this type of scenario, Designers are not just responsible for the overall Research (as stated in the previous point, including Metrics, Reviews, Customer Support, User Interviews/Usability Testing, Market Research, Trend and Paradigms Identification, Innovation Standards, among many others), but should also collaboratively provide documentation for Product Ownership departments be successful in capturing requirements, and further detailing the product narrative that is being built across a variety of scenarios.

Reality Check. Discoverability in the Design Thinking process can take multiple paths and invariably surfaces a common denominator: Designers should at all times be pro-active about researching, understanding the Universe in which users and customers operate on. Through different threads of research, more informed paths are created, enriching not just the Characters/Personas for whom the product/feature is built for, but in essence, providing a canvas that is grounded in reality, in clarifying repetitive tasks, expected/documented behaviors and finally desirable outcomes. This is of course a collaborative endeavor, but when setting about a Discoverability process, no matter what its source or genesis inflection point, it’s fundamental that Designers not only operate as catalysts and purveyors of the right questions, but also provide supple information to further cement what is being tackled.

I’ll conclude with the following quote, from Neil Armstrong on the topic of research, which is one of the topics of this article:

“Research is creating new knowledge.”

Discoverability in the Design Process was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: Design

Environmental Psychology and UX Design

Sun, 12/08/2019 - 09:15
Photo by MichaƂ Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Digital Computer interfaces are a very recent invention in the era of human beings. We did not have them when we were hunters & foragers or during the agricultural revolution and not even during the Industrial Revolution. The way we communicated with our surroundings were very different back then and they in turn shaped us. They shaped our beliefs, cultures, traditions and defined who we are.

We worshiped the sun, moon, stars and whatever we found fascinating. This was how the natural environment defined us. We became what we consumed.

Then, we built mega structures, social and physical infrastructures. They began to define us. We prided ourselves with tallest towers and intricate architectural details. Architects and Environmental Psychologists know that crafting thoughtful and usable spaces for people directly influences their well being. Entire aspect of Urban Design is based on this.

Churchill famously said,

“We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us”What are our surroundings?

Environmental Psychology began in 1960s, that can be defined as the study of the relationship between people and their habitable environment. It includes natural as well as man-made environment. But, recently, something new has been added to this list. It is information/digital environment.

Our generation is spending most of its time interacting with digital environments than anything else. Are we ready for this massive influx of information? are they presented to us in a very understandable, non-manipulative and friendly way?

“How are digital interfaces derived from existing mental models present in the real world?”

Let us consider some examples,

  1. Interior Design
  2. Minimalism
  3. Malls, Casinos
Interior Design

Interior designers are valued not just because they design beautiful spaces; but, they fine-tune these spaces specifically for the type of individuals that are going to be using that space. Spatial planning, lighting, acoustics, ergonomics, color and empty spaces are all given importance to craft the perfect experience for the individual. Let us consider some principles of interior design and how interior spaces affect our cognitive thought process

Photo by Boudhayan Bardhan on Unsplash
  1. Legibility: Gives us feelings of comfort. We are creatures that fear uncertainty. Anytime that we feel we are lost, we quickly try to find the fastest way out. Signboards help us achieve this.
  2. Proxemics: Or the study of personal spaces is used in design to avoid making people feel overcrowded in any situation. (eg: Malls. They are filled with people but you rarely feel crowded)
  3. Privacy: As much as we are social animals, our society has morphed into valuing privacy and it is one of the fundamental rights. No wonder why our built environments are carefully designed to provide privacy.

This is exactly what we, UX designers have to learn from. Just like how man-made environments can affect our mood, taste, experiences; digital environments, due to its ubiquitous nature in our world, needs the same thought process behind them.


This one has been trending a lot in recent times. Originally started from visual arts in the 60s, It has found its way into principles of life, digital design, Industrial and interior design.

Photo by John Mark Arnold on Unsplash

Let us consider the design aspect

Studies have shown, We become more focused when there is very less number of things to focus on. Contrary to popular myths, we are very bad at multitasking and it takes a toll on our overall mental health. The fewer the things on your mind, the more productive you can be at what you do. Psychologists term this as cognitive load. Whenever we cross our thresholds, most of the information that we gather from the real world becomes noise. It might be visual, auditory or touch.

Again, the same principle is used in digital design. Whenever an application shows us too much information, it becomes hard to know what’s important and also what is interactive. Since it is so much easy to quit applications or websites than living spaces, information overload in digital environments can kill the platform if it is not carefully designed.

Malls, Casinos and Digital Design

Malls and Casinos are small isolated cities. They are designed to keep the consumer inside them for a long time. The intent behind the design is to make the consumer forget the concept of time-space. The relationship with the outside world is broken deliberately to make the people get into a fantasy.

Photo by Adrien Robert on Unsplash

Lighting: The quality of indoor lighting in malls and casinos distort the psychological perception of time. Everyone and everything is always moving. There is no night. There are no large transparent windows to allow you to look outside. Your biological clocks tell you it is day all the time. That is how you manage to stay excited in a mall, casino even though it is noisy and crowded even at nights.

Sounds: Buzzing sounds in casinos are prominent because it tells you that someone is always winning and encourages you to roll the dice.

Mystery: Malls and Casinos want you to explore but makes sure you are safe while doing so. They wouldn’t want to give you spatial anxiety and so, they maintain a balance between mystery and anxiety. The floors are purposely made illegible enough so that they remain exciting. The curved corners tells you there is something around the corner but you have to walk all the way to know what it is.

Wayfinding: Casinos use unconscious subliminal clues to guide you to certain places within. This can be done by lighting and it is called as way-finding. Way-finding refers to information systems that guide people through a physical environment and enhance their understanding and experience of the space.

Let us consider the above findings in Digital Design.

Every single one of these principles are used in the most addictive environments that we use online.

Wayfinding UX: The most important elements are given priority and way-finding in design helps us to guide the users to certain parts of the application/website. This is generally done using contrast colors, bold typography or buttons with shadows and so on. The things we want the user to click are made more prominent and clear while the less important areas are greyed out or dull.

Mystery in UX: This is something which is commonly done in mobile apps. Consider the refresh mechanism of Twitter, Facebook, Reddit. You know that you have browsed through the posts but still the uncertainty taunts you to refresh once more (for an hour at least). The refresh action itself is made so simple that you just need to scroll in the opposite direction.

I’d love to hear your ideas too about how our moods, emotions, thoughts are influenced by our environment. Digital or otherwise.

Feel free to respond if you want to discuss more.

Thanks for reading! Hope you all had a great weekend.

Environmental Psychology and UX Design was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: Design

How I redesigned my entire B2B SaaS app in 30 days

Sun, 12/08/2019 - 08:25

Instagram is currently one of the most popular platforms and has seen an explosion of business accounts, ad money spent and even purchases made directly in the app in the last year. Businesses of all sizes are flocking to the platform to get in on a piece of the action. The popularity of Instagram is what makes it a great marketing tool but it is what also makes it difficult to stand out and reach potential customers. Hashtags are a social media concept that is heavily used on Instagram to help classify posts and allow users to get their content in front of more people than just their followers. Unfortunately employing an effective hashtag strategy on Instagram is hard work and really time consuming. Few businesses have the knowledge and resources and even fewer actually get it right.

Curate helps businesses get their hashtag boost by removing the complexity and saving them hours of time per week. Integrated directly with Instagram, Curate knows about all the hashtags each account has ever used and how they affected each post. As soon as a user signs up, all of their hashtags are available at their fingertips to help them select the perfect ones for maximum exposure. Create hashtag lists, use visualizations, track banned hashtags, get suggestions and even schedule your hashtags to be posted automatically for you.

The before and after of the 30 day SaaS app transformation

As the app continued to evolve it hit an inflection point where I knew that building features on top of the current design wasn’t going to pay off. There were a growing number of user experience issues that were more than just a simple style change. The navigation of the app and even how the data is presented was starting to make less sense in the original design. It was also already becoming cumbersome to build on top of it and the app could also use some lipstick to get it away from its standard Material look.

Since Curate is starting to gain traction and has paying customers, it was time to provide them with a better solution to their problems. Being the sole founder, I’m responsible for not only the development of the website, app, chrome extension and scraping tools but also handling the business side including marketing. I didn’t really have extra time for much of anything and definitely not for rebuilding the entire web app. Regardless, I knew my reasoning was valid so I gave myself just one month to pull it off.

I worked. 

Categories: Design

Weekly Micro-Interactions #10

Sun, 12/08/2019 - 08:24

A curated list of UI Interactions done right

Categories: Design

8 Useful Interview Tips for UX Designers

Sat, 12/07/2019 - 06:55

An interview is a process that helps recruiters to find out a suitable person who can fulfill their requirements in a desirable way. It includes a set of questions and answers to get an understanding of the other person about his/her skills, interests and attitude.

Being a professional UX designer, you must have to appear in multiple interviews when you are searching for a job. At times, you rock in an interview and get a positive outcome in the form of your favorite job, while sometimes you might not be able to perform well and hence do not get the required results. However, taking these chances as learning opportunities help you improve yourself and try harder for your next interview.

There are different ways to show outstanding performance in an interview. A few useful tips that can help you with your next interview are listed below.

1. Prepare well

The first and most important thing that you can do before going to an interview is to prepare as much as you can. There is a lot of material available on the internet related to UX, including useful interview questions along with the best possible answers.

To make sure that a lot of information may not overwhelm you, find a few sites that serve you with the required content and are enough to follow to prepare well. Read the given questions and answers carefully and try to map those answers to your knowledge and practical experience. A good source for UX related interview questions can be found here.

It is always important to prepare well that includes understanding your potential employer and maybe the kind of interview questions employers ask. Glassdoor is a good source that contains interview questions for different companies as well as reviews from their former and current employees.

When you have a good collection of interview questions, organize them in the form of a document by listing all the questions and answers into it. Then, tweak the answers by adding your own experience in each answer. Keep on adding the questions/answers in the same document so that it becomes your interview glossary.

When you are called for an interview, you can go through this glossary thoroughly and practice your answers multiple times in your mind. This will be your guide for interview preparation that helps you save a lot of time.

2. Know about the company and your interviewer

Another important step in interview preparation is to research about the company where you are going for your interview. For this purpose, go to the company’s website and discover their goals, products, and interests. It is also helpful to find information about the company on Linkedin, Glassdoor, Quora and other related sites. Using this information, modify your portfolio and include keywords from the desired job description to make it more relevant and appealing to your recruiters.

In some interviews, you would already receive an email a few days before the interview regarding who is sitting in your interview panel. Knowing about the interviewers is also as important as doing research about the company. In this digital world, it is not difficult to find a professional on the internet. Go to Linkedin, and search their profiles. Get to know their experiences, their past work, and their portfolios as this will help you get familiar with the person and their achievements.

An interesting tip is to look at the recommendations that they have either received or given to others. This will help you understand their working style, their relationships with peers, and their values. This knowledge will allow you to make better and effective communication with them during the interview. Not just this, it would also help you reflect if this is really the job you are looking for. If you are uncomfortable with someone’s working style, do you really want to apply for the job?

3. Revise UX basics, even if you’re an experienced UX designer

You might have done a lot of practical work in the UX field for a number of customers. You will have many projects to show and describe in your interview. However, make sure to revise your basic concepts of UX design, as sometimes we absorb too much in practical work that we ignore the usage of related terms and phrases.

The recruiters may not ask you the definition of information architecture or interaction design, but it will give a good impression if you use similar terms while explaining your design process.

Use a language with UX keywords and show them you have a good command over UX concepts, and you can help your customers to realize the value of UX design and you can mentor your juniors to understand them about the creation of amazing experiences.

4. Take along with your portfolio and make sure to include your UX process

To earn a UX job, bring your design portfolio with you including all necessary elements in it. To create an impressive portfolio, it is better to research a few useful tips that can help you when you organize your work in a portfolio. Review portfolio examples from professional UX designers and see how they explain their projects. Behance and Dribble are the two most common sites that contain hundreds of good portfolios from professionals around the world.

Make sure to discuss the process that you follow while working on your design projects. Start with an idea, and explain your process of converting that idea from wireframes and images into prototypes, and how you get the client’s feedback. If you just add finalized graphics to your portfolio without explaining the process of creation, this will not add much value to your interview. It is better to prepare a balanced mix of examples, like having a user flow, a couple of prototypes (both low-fi and high-fi), few mockups, a case-study, an AB test that went well, etc. This would give a general impression about not just your UX but also your thought process.

It is also a good idea to include recommendations that you get from your clients or your organization. Explain the value that you add to business through your design work, and also describe the impact of your work on your user’s lives. Add links to your professional social media profiles to support your experience.

5. Answer the questions that you are asked

At times, there are candidates who are eager to share their experiences with much detail. The right length for interview answers is one to two minutes, as it is difficult to listen to someone for too long and your recruiter may get bored.

Try to give clear and precise answers that are specific to the asked questions. You can provide examples to support your answers, but don’t try to speak each and everything you know about UX.

If you provide solid information in your answer, you can deliver more in less time and its impact will be greater. Providing long answers containing irrelevant information can spare extra time, also it may not help you in any way in your interview.

6. Take your time to solve a design problem

It is a common approach to have a design task or exercise as part of your UX interview. This helps recruiters gauge your thinking process, imagination power, and creativity. This is a tricky part of your interview and requires an attentive mind.

When you get a design problem to solve, always ask for a few minutes to understand it, though most of the time you will get it without asking. Read or listen to the problem carefully. Whatever has been asked in the interview, translate it in your mind to your own words and thoughts. Ask questions to clarify the problem.

One useful tip here is to try to relate the problem to any of the design tasks that you have already worked on. This will help you to go through the same process of ideation, user flows, sketches and layout. It would become easier for you to solve the problem and present it to the interview panel.

Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer to a design problem. However, it is a good chance to show your design process, your way to solve the problem, and how you reach the solution.

7. Always think aloud

When you are asked a question in your interview, always think aloud as this will help the interview panel to understand your problem-solving approach, an essential requirement for a UX job. This is an important protocol when you are solving a design problem.

Lengthy silent periods can harm you as it will give no clue to the recruiter about your thought process. This is even more essential for a remote interview where the face-to-face conversation is not possible.

8. Be honest, be confident and be positive

During an interview, always be honest in your answers, be confident about your knowledge and skills, and be positive in your communication.

We all know that UX skill is a mandatory qualification to earn a UX job. However, your attitude matters a lot. A big mistake that a person can do in an interview is not presenting himself as a professional worker. Good UX skills but an undesired behavior can harm you in an interview.

Be honest when you are explaining your work. If you don’t know the answer to a question, there is no harm to admit it. However, don’t forget to show your willingness to learn new concepts and trends. Be confident when giving your answers. You have the required knowledge and skills, that’s why you are called for the interview.

Think positive and behave positively. Everyone in the room wants to see you succeed in the interview and that is the reason you are sitting with them. No one is there to make you feel bad or inferior.


Giving a UX interview needs a lot of preparation, whether you are an experienced or a fresh graduate. So, take time, prepare notes, study well, behave confident and perform excellently.

Make sure to follow up after the interview as this will show your interest in the job and thus leave a positive impact. Whether you are successful or not, make sure that you always get feedback from your recruiters as this can be a good learning experience useful in another future interview.


This article was initially published at Usability Geek.

Thanks for reading. Find more related articles at If you have any questions, contact me and I will write about it: Twitter | Facebook

8 Useful Interview Tips for UX Designers was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: Design

How we solved user drop-offs: A FinTech mobile app case study

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 16:02

At the beginning of the year, we worked with an awesome team and great FinTech product called Finmo, who are part of the Founders Factory family. We worked closely with both the CEO and Head of Product to completely redesign both the UX and UI.

In a nutshell Finmo is a mobile app which helps freelancers, sole-traders and those who have side-hustles, to save time and money when dealing with tax. It’s also a tool for better understanding tax in general. We were stoked to work on this, as not only were we working with a great team, but the app appealed to us personally, we could also see its value of helping people, and solving a need.

Working with the teamThe challenge

We briefly integrated into their team to solve three main pain points. Firstly improving on the user experience, secondly giving the whole interface a fresh lift, lastly and probably most importantly was to drastically reduce their user drop-offs on sign up. This is always a tricky part to any product, getting users to give their information PLUS signing up, but even more difficult is getting users to connect their bank accounts. This usually creates friction, this was going to be our biggest challenge.

The overall solution

We took a step back, stripped back all the nice-to-haves and just focused on the core proposition. After understanding the user demographic, and establishing user personas to always refer back to we established a core user flow. The single most important screen we decided was the dashboard, where the user would see all their tax liabilities and information. The reason for this decision is that this is the unique selling point of the app, and it’s main proposition.

Simple user flow

We felt the app was heavy in places and cluttered, this more often than not has an affect on usability, user adoption and retention. More features the majority of the time adds complexity to the experience, which can bring its frustrations. We designed from the bottom up, focusing on the bare minimum to start with, this helped us to focus on the goal and then develop from thereafter.

We really focused on these core features, and then iteratively designed the experience in tandem with the team, and more importantly with user feedback. As us Fellos were also part of the target demographic we collectively had internal meetings to discuss exactly what we would want from this product. Using this information and that of the users, we were able to assume the best possible flow, and core navigation. This, of course, would be an iterative process, in which we would design, test and then implement upon the general consensus of the users' feedback.

Initial UX sketchesUser drop-offs

We took a similar approach to tackling the user drop-offs on the on-boarding stage. We felt it was overwhelming, complicated and cluttered, which didn’t inspire confidence. Having too many steps we predicted was also one of the main drivers for the drops-off, we thought this with Hick’s Law [1] of usability in mind. Focusing on this made sure that the app was simple, this is one of key principles of UX, and something we always look to follow. This, in turn, helps to create a more seamless and intuitive experience, as it makes it easier for the user to process and digest information. This can’t be overstated, especially for mobile design where the screen real estate is limited. We completely stripped back the interface to only a handful of steps.

Another aspect we focused on was creating a feeling of trust and security, this is paramount for any FinTech app, especially those that involve sensitive information. Data highlighted that this section was the highest drop-off rate, no surprise as many feel sceptical about entering their banking information. We really focused on delivering clear and concise messaging, and making the app’s interface look professional and trustworthy. The other target was giving a fresh, polished feel to the app, this coincided with solving the drop-offs, as it would give the reliable look we were after. We also wanted to use well known design principles to give substance to these niceties, however even just creating a more visually appealing user interface is beneficial to making the experience feel easier to use. This is sometimes referred to as the Aesthetic-Usability Effect [2].

Core UI

We also gave a more vibrant hue to the primary colour palette, as well as reducing the amount of overall colours, to reduce distractions. We also tactically used a lot of white space to focus on the relevant call to actions, and attention points. We additionally emphasised the colour blue, this in addition to using white evokes feelings of reliability, security and also professionalism. We also added familiar elements inspired from other major FinTech and banking apps, which would further add to creating a trusting experience. We also used Intercom to add further feeling of trust and support. Lastly we added bespoke iconography and illustrations, which added to an approachable feel to the app. As well as a unique and professional experience to the interface, which we later learnt helped user retention.

To recap how we solved user drop-offs:

  1. Used less steps in the on-boarding, which made it feel less overwhelming.
  2. Reduced complexity and clutter, which created a focused app which was easier to use.
  3. Put focus on the messaging, so that it was clear, concise and evoked trust.
  4. Used colour theory to add a professional and trustworthy interface and experience.
  5. Made it more visual appealing, by making it look modern and fresh.
  6. Made the app feel familiar, an essential UX principle as stated by Jakob Nielsen [3].
To conclude

We were really happy with the results, especially as we achieved what we set out to. Firstly we created an enhanced user experience which was shown through higher user retention, and we made the UI more visually appealing and engaging. However we were most proud of the statistics for the user drop-offs. Not only did the new flow reduce user friction, but more importantly drop-offs were reduced substantially. The data showed an improvement of 40%!

Sexy visuals




We would love to hear your thoughts, do let us know in the comments below if you have any questions or want to know more!

Would you like to work with us? We are a friendly bunch, come and say hello to fello 

Categories: Design

Bad UX Bites #10: IMDB’s janky search is why you need design leadership.

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 00:52

It’s basically 2020. The fundamental conventions of search have practically been codified into law. You don’t make users select the exact type of result from a dropdown menu before searching. You allow faceted search. You respect quote marks. And you tolerate errors and shorthand. IMDB seems to have forgotten the last one.

In this day and age, there is no excuse for any tech platform, especially a big one, to come up short on any of these conventions, and yet, well, have a look at this:

I type in “la confidential” expecting the movie from 1997.

I get seemingly everything but that movie.

That’s weird. Is the movie somehow missing from their database? That can’t possibly be. Wait! What if I were to type in the periods following L and A?


Interestingly, if you type slowly enough for the auto-complete to show up, you will find that this system actually knows how to interpret my intention:

There are two problems here.

The first is a problem for the user: some of us just rapidly type in a search query and expect to be taken to our destination, or at least be shown a link to our destination large enough to play by Fitts’s rules. Having to move your finger over to the down arrow or grab your mouse sounds like a trivial step, but it actually noticeably breaks flow.

The second is a problem for the organization: the code for search interpretation clearly exists at IMDB, given that it is used for auto-complete. Why is that code not being shared by the two systems? That kind of inefficiency and wastefulness could only happen at a company with too many dollars and too little sense.

This Bad UX Bite is not primarily about the principles of search because, if you don’t understand those by now, you should not be working in tech. Obviously someone at IMDB understands search because they built an auto-complete that does it properly. The real issue is that IMDB’s organizational structure is so janky that that understanding does not permeate the entire company.

You probably know that IMDB is owned by Amazon, which is infamous for its jungle of a user experience. I’ve had conversations with Amazonians who admit there is very little design centralization, which I interpret to mean that there is little design leadership. There are individual designers who may be perfectly capable, but whoever is marshaling them is
 deficient, if I’m being charitable.

Speaking of charitable, I once heard their design approach described as “Darwinian”, but let’s not forget that Darwinian evolution produced the koala, a creature so stupid that it tries to climb trees painted on the walls of a zoo. What is needed at any company — especially a large one — is the arch-enemy of Darwinian evolution: intelligent design. Every company needs an intelligent design leader who oversees the user experience from on high and identifies not only the user experience problems but the user experience design problems. Those include communication breakdowns, poor documentation, and block-headed product owners.

Are you sensing a theme?

My last article roasted Yelp for humiliating its advertisers by allowing ads to be blended in with a list of “worst restaurants in Seattle”. This blunder was caused by a lack of design leadership. Either Yelp has no design leader (plausible), or their “leader” is powerless in the shadow of an organization driven more by short-term profits (likely).

Today’s example does not seem to be driven by avarice, but by organizational ineptitude. The Amazon corporation has never had a respect for design and has thus never given design a proper stage. A/B testing of incremental changes grotesquely masquerades as sentient UX direction. The fact that they are running not one but two vastly different search algorithms, one of which seems to predate “Gangsta’s Paradise”, shows us that no one is at the helm.

Don’t assume that, because your company has 50 employees, you are immune to this kind of thing. Oftentimes, it’s the small companies who love to boast how “Agile” they are that commit the worst consistency blunders. They are too busy moving fast and breaking things, I guess. Don’t let that be you.

Check out my latest project

I’m not back to Medium full time. Those days are over. Instead of writing blog articles that will just be buried by a crappy algorithm, I have been building a new learning tool. It’s a web app that teaches you to read foreign alphabets like Korean. It is fast and painless, unlike the dumb memorization methods that other sites use. It’s called Alphaliterate. It’s totally free and I am working on adding new alphabets like Arabic, Japanese, and Thai.

Welcome to Alphaliterate

Also, if you want to follow me, go to this page and sign up for my mailing list.

Politics is when you say you are going to do one thing while intending to do another. Then you do neither what you said, nor what you intended.

Bad UX Bites #10: IMDB’s janky search is why you need design leadership. was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: Design

Improving UX Consistency

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 14:59

UX consistency has become a global challenge as reported by 3,157 respondents in a recent industry survey. As a product scales, limited collaboration and communication make it difficult for different stakeholders involved in product development to work with a shared vision.

Therefore, it is important to follow certain established design rules to ensure that the overall experience of the product is seamless.

Inconsistent UX often manifests the following problemsInconsistent workflows

As users begin to use your product every day, they form a mental map of expectations. It allows them to predict what would happen when they click on a specific CTA or initiate a task. An unpredictable experience would attack their ability to trust and complete a task with confidence.

Mammoth load on your development teams

With no defined guidelines or framework in place, your development team would often find themselves building every component used in the product from a scratch. Besides the toil of repeatedly coding similar functions, it keeps the overall UX away from standardization.

Limited scaling & innovation

Inconsistent UX often keeps managers and development teams busy in troubleshooting glitches and doesn’t leave room for them to think of features they would like to add to the product. Often, it’s simply hard to understand where a new feature should be integrated without adding to the confusion.

Well, the good news is that while inconsistency is among the greatest UX challenges, it also happens to be something we have come to master.

Let’s begin by defining the aspects of your product which interact with the user, and identify some basic rules of consistency for your product to improve user experience.

1. Components

Your product can be broken down to reveal some repetitive elements such as tables, forms, wizards, cards, dropdowns, overlays, etc. These usually combine as an ‘interaction’ to allow the user to complete the task at hand. It is wise to build a common library of these components as you build your product. Keeping the library live (constantly updated) and central for all teams to access will make sure all stakeholders involved in the development process are using universally approved and standardized elements. Involving a UX team would help you explore multiple options for the same elements as per your need, while ensuring that they all are functionally alike.

2. Information and Labels

Humans like to rely on their ability to recall and recollect. While defining titles or labels for a particular field, one needs to be mindful about their users and ensure that these are similar to the terms and words used for reference in their real-world context. As far as possible, they should be crisp and well-defined. Use of multiple abbreviations and long titles could confuse the user.

It is also important to group related information together to keep it contextually relevant. Better known as ‘Information Architecture’ (IA) in the UX community, IA ensures that the information is logically distributed in a way that users are able to find what they need without feeling overwhelmed.

3. Colors

Visual aesthetics of a product have a strong role to play in the overall UX consistency. Besides establishing a visual hierarchy which subconsciously plays with the user’s focus, UI guidelines (rules built to define the usage of color and its usage across components) leverage the scientific aspect of a user’s behavior.

Involving an experienced eUX team can help you understand the primary tasks and functions performed by your user, and use visual elements to guide them through it. Besides a focused benefit like this, UI guidelines make sure that your product has a strong visual hierarchy, helping your user perform their tasks with the correct mindset.

Closing Thought

Each enterprise scale product harbors its own unique complexity and can’t truly benefit from a ‘one size fits all’ approach. To reap the true value of UX, it is always advisable to scale with your own unique strategy that lives parallel to product development. It holistically adds the value of UX to your product, making sure it is agile enough to accommodate your evolving goals and expectations to improve user experience.

Improving UX Consistency was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: Design

Bias in tech and UX absolutely exists

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 14:58

an open letter about inequality

Categories: Design

My Thoughts on User Onboarding + Tips on better ways to do it

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 04:38
User onboarding should be a strategy rather than just a few slidesLalesh Aldarwish

User onboarding are the steps or processes used to guide a user when trying to use a product/service and feature for the first time.

- Toptal

An onboarding experience is a way to introduce users to a new product, app, or feature.

Onboarding UX is the design of a flow or series of flows that give the user a guided introduction to the product, set up some initial preferences, or point out critical UI elements in an interface.

The ways I have seen this carried out is:

- Having a series of screens that explain the app and its features on opening an app for the first time.

- Some products have gamification to their app that lets you try it out in a sandbox.

- Having a series of pop-ups to explain how the product/service works.

But User Onboarding transcends just a few screens showing features.

User onboarding should be a strategy that targets the user and gives them a soft landing to what it's being introduced. This can be a feature, physical product (like unpacking a new laptop/phone), digital service or even an event ( when they arrive at the location)

I went for an event earlier this year and they used a very big space, at the front of the venue, they raised their banners, this would let you know you are in the right location, on entering, the areas were labeled from the gate so you know exactly what was happening in what area. That gave me a better experience as opposed to just walking around asking questions.

The word "user" refers to someone you are serving.

On studying what Twitter did, they noticed people would create an account and leave, have in mind that Twitter is a conversation based application, they later improved that process and during sign up they ask for your interest and suggest accounts for you to follow that way you don’t see an empty timeline when the process is over. That right there is the soft landing 

Categories: Design

Data Visualisation: questions you should ask before.

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 03:52
Data Visualisation: questions you should ask before. What we’ve discovered working on the Map of Polish Composers.TL;DROckham’s razor is a designer’s most important tool. Data visualization has a value greater than the “wow effect” if and only if it allows you to show something better or explore more conveniently. The more non-standard your solution is, the sooner and the more carefully you need to test it.



Our task was to design and implement a website collecting information about Polish composers of contemporary music.

The challenge was to reconcile various needs: the final product had to meet high aesthetic requirements, present information in a digestible way, and offer a navigation more interesting than an ordinary search by name.

The whole process took place in a space shaped by difficult baseline conditions:

  • a ready data set prepared for years by outstanding specialists in the field of musicology,
  • very limited time for design and implementation due to an already scheduled premiere and promotion during an important industry event,
  • narrow (estimated at about 2,000 people), specific, unavailable for research and diversified in terms of their real needs target audience — festival programmers and musicologists from around the world.

We had little time to find an attractive form of visualizing existing data that would cater for various search scenarios and navigation around the data set.

The Sweet Dream of Users who “Discover Data”

Provided not only with encyclopedic data, but also information where composers belong to in terms of aesthetic trends and environments, and dates where individual works were created, we followed the path trodden by many a designer of interactive forms in the cultural sector: a search for a form of visualization so interesting that it makes users “involuntarily engaged” in extended interaction and independent “data set mining”.

Creative reflection on possible forms of presentation led us to the concept of a seven-dimensional space mapped on a two-dimensional screen using color, saturation and specific forms of movement.

But when we asked ourselves, what value it brings to our users, the unexpected answer was — none.

The idea of a seven-dimensional space where composers are presented simultaneously in terms of their main currents, stylistics used, historical background and geographical proximity sounds appealing, but creating it requires very precise data.

Even when the data is there, you still need to figure out how to communicate this content to users who know only two-dimensional charts. In addition, in times of attention economy, the user wants to see the value immediately — it needs to be clear enough to win with other incentives competing for their attention.

7 Most Important Questions You Should Ask Before

Therefore, the most important questions you need to ask when you start to design data visualization stem from questions about the value that it offers to your users in the context of their goals, about the best form of presentation, and about data quality.

  1. Who are your users? What mental model do they use? Answering these questions is crucial. Without it data is just raw pieces information stored in a database.
  2. Do we really need visualization? Why? This is usually the most important question, the answer to which is surprisingly often, “No”. Numbers and words are also forms of data visualization, and due to their high intuitiveness and extraordinary flexibility, they are often simply the best form.
  3. What specific value does this visualization bring? How many sentences do you need to explain the need for it? (Any number greater than one should raise your suspicions).
  4. Which data are crucial because in the mental model and language of the users they divide the set into subsets, and which are only complementary?
  5. What is the simplest way to present these key data? Is this form self-explanatory? Is there a simpler one?
  6. Do you need an interactive form or should you just highlight relevant information? Don’t make it interactive just because you can!
  7. Do we know everything about the data that will be visualized? Sometimes the whole concept can be invalidated by a small detail: insufficient accuracy, lack of a few data points, or a format that prevents simple algorithmic processing.
The SolutionSkteches of different modes

Finally, we decided to implement two visualizations of the data set, both using the possibilities offered by the D3.js library.

The first is a traditional timeline which organizes the entire collection in an objective and informative way.

Time is the dimension that most ruthlessly regulates affiliation to epochs, currents, peer networks etc.

Timeline mode— interaction schemaThe second visualization method is based on language.

Each of the composers is tagged with words: names of schools, trends and phenomena. Words related to composers define a space of concepts in which all creators are inscribed in different ways.

We’ve created an algorithmic solution that draws a “constellation of the composers” based on their gravity towards various concepts, from the most general to the most specific. The interaction is mutual: the place occupied by a given concept in space is determined by the places occupied by composers associated with it. This algorithm generates a constantly tense graph in which the concepts occurring together in different contexts, and the artist penetrated by similar ideas gravitate to one another.

Constellation mode — interaction schemaInnovations are risky. Always have a backup plan

All products should be tested early and carefully. Innovations — earlier and more carefully.

Navigation based on data visualization is an innovation based on a whole series of presuppositions regarding the importance of various data and the comprehensibility of their visual representation. Even one weak link in the design process can be decisive for the failure of the whole enterprise. The only way to avoid all reefs is to test the prototype step by step, which in turn dramatically increases lead time and the necessary resources.

Therefore, in critical areas, a contingency plan is a must: a mechanism that allows you to achieve the same effects in a traditional way.

The Map of Polish Composers is equipped with traditional indexes of names and terms. This way navigation is possible without using complex visualizations. When we moved from a 100-item test data set to a 250-item set, it turned out that this is already a serious burden on mobile devices, slowing down operation beyond acceptable standards. Visualization did not provide additional information and it hindered access to basic data — that’s why for mobile devices we’ve decided to use only traditional indexes and hypertext links between individual entities.

Profile Anatomy

Of course, data visualization is not only interactive forms. Information about each composer, presented on an encyclopedic card, was also carefully designed in terms of content (we decided to include interesting facts about the composer’s life to bring them closer to readers and make them more memorable) and form:

Research and conclusions

When we started our research, it quickly turned out that for our target audience content had absolute primacy over form!

Users were interested in the merits: the criteria for selecting composers, the presence of specific names in the collection, the way information was prepared, the substantive credibility of the descriptions, and the readability of the content.

What seemed most important during the implementation process and what at the same time was the most difficult in designing and developing — the navigation based on data visualization — was of secondary importance for the recipients. They appreciated the unusual form, interacted with interest, but the key value lay elsewhere for them.

“The respondents were almost completely focused on the content, criteria for selecting composers, and the texts. The innovative navigation was a tempting invitation to travel into the unknown, explore facts and connections in a way that no other service they use allows them to.” — Malwina Otto

That is why it is worth asking yourself the above seven questions and always remember that what is most interesting for a designer is often secondary for the user.

Digital Product Team


Kordian Klecha (linkedin) — product design + project management

Martyna Wędzicka-Obuchowicz (link) — graphic design

Damian Zawadzki (linkedin) — frontend+backend developement

Piotr MigdaƂ ( — data visualization in D3.js

Kama Czechowska (linkedin) — product design cooperation, photos

Malwina Otto (linkedin) —user research, case study translation

Zuzanna Wiechowska (linkedin) — research & benchmarking

Data Visualisation: questions you should ask before. was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: Design

The curse of design

Wed, 12/04/2019 - 23:57
Enslaving ourselves into good designImage credit:

The digital design has come so far from its movement into making modern technology useful to humans. The designer relay on humans and their emotions when designing products or services. Designers create the design to keep people engaging with the product or service. The products that designers create persuade humans to do what we want them to do. The secret desire of designers, including my self, is to make humans addict to whatever we design. We call humans users and groups them according to the goals and needs. The applications with grate experiences make humans take them to bed and wake up to them. People wake up not to their loved ones, but to the applications we designed. We check out the notifications we have before everything in the morning. We set the human’s mood by how complex or simple their life is with using design and technology. By reading until this line will make you feel that we are evil, but we are a necessary evil.

Why manipulation in design is used?

The manipulation in design is mainly used for selective attention creation. Designers create visual cues to guide the user inside the application. These visual cues will help the users to generate better ways of interacting with the application and to mitigate the pain points in the application. There are a few methods that designers can use to manipulate the “users” into using the application they way designers want the users to.

Use notifications to convey information — 
The mobile phones have become a must-have accessory. People take portable devices where ever they go. You might have experienced many scenarios where your mobile phone or your tablet device gives you notifications at their own time. It makes the user go and check out the notification, no matter what it is. The attractive text on the notifications will manipulate the user to click on them. The number of notifications and the differentiation of notifications will make the user clear all the notification or keep specific notifications to have a look at them later in the day.

I think you have seen how new messaging applications use notification to indicate whether the user read the text message or not. The most common use of terminology used in the chat applications is such as, read and seen, makes the user aware of the current status of the massage. The message status will urge the user to reply to the message. It is a manipulation technique to keep the users working with the application for more time than usual.

Use of colour for manipulation — 
The colour plays an immense part in creating emotions in users. The designers use colour as a manipulation technique for humans in different cultures. Different colours can create different emotions. The use of colour can be seen in different bandings in products, use of the product, marketing of the product and to create aesthetical palatability of the application that manipulates the user.

Showing prompts — 
I know you have encountered this countless times when browsing for hotels, items online. The visual prompts such as ’50 people currently looking at this’ and ‘hot right now’ are used to manipulate the users by creating a sudden urge to lick on the prompt. The subconscious feeling of missing something can generate the need for clicking the prompts.

The use of images -
The images are a powerful way of conveying information to humans. Images influence humans and give a powerful message to the user. This manipulation technique is highly used in online shopping applications where it shows items that you can buy. The items are mostly associated with happy people who are using items that are being sold. This gives the user the feeling that he/she would be happy when they also use the same products. The quality of the images, the angels of the photos taken, the edit of the photos make the esthetically usability effect so that the user would feel positive emotion towards whatever they are seeing.

Dark patterns in manipulation using design

The dark patterns are common among designers. The dark patterns are used to collect data from users and to manipulate their emotions. There are a few mechanisms that you need to avoid as a designer.

Confirmshaming -
The Confirmshaming is one of the least trends to cause the users to feel guilty for something that they have done. The option to decline is worded in such a way as to shame the user into compliance. The most common use is to get a user to sign up for a mailing list, and it is often found in exit-intent modals and other popups.

Image resource:

Bait and Switch
The user sets out to do one thing, but a different, undesirable thing happens instead. The most famous example of digital bait and switch was Microsoft’s misguided approach to getting people to upgrade their computers to Windows 10.

Image resource:

Price comparison prevention
The retailer makes it hard for you to compare the price of an item with another item, so you cannot make an informed decision.

Image resource:

The dark patterns help designers to persuade humans to make decisions and push their journey in an unethical manner. It has become a curse for design. As designers, we should keep these things in mind and make understandable and discoverable products that are meaningful for the problems that they have encountered.

The curse of design was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Categories: Design
©2019 Richard Esmonde. All rights reserved.