Tag Archives: icons

UI icons in interface design tubik blog

Small Elements, Big Impact: Types and Functions of UI Icons.

Icons in user interfaces are the elements that cannot be overestimated. Small and meaningful, they solve numerous problems. They become little keys to usability and intuitive navigation. And only designers know how much time and effort is needed to make them simple, helpful and expressive.

 

Guru of user experience design Steve  Jobs said: «Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.» Obviously, icons are on the top of details making interface usable and navigable. So, today let’s discuss what are their types and how they can be used in interfaces.

 

Definition

 

In general terms, an icon can be defined as an image which has a high symbolic value and is used for the purpose of communication. Icons present signs which are informative and support data exchange between the informer and addressee alongside with words and sentences: while copy is served with letters or characters, icons communicate via the images showing pictorial resemblance with an object of the physical world. In computing and digital design, icons are pictograms or ideograms used in the web or mobile interface to support its usability and provide the successful flow of human-computer interaction.

 

Diving into the benefits of icons, one of the most important among them is the ability to replace the text. In one of our earlier articles, we gave details about the relations of copy and icons and their influence on usability. The process of the research showed that usage of recognizable and clear icons had a great potential in strengthening navigation as most people perceive images faster than words. However, even the slightest misperception can become the reason of poor UX so the solutions on the type of icons should be carefully tested to reach the good balance of icons and copy for a particular target audience.

 

weather app design UI

 

History

 

Obviously, icons weren’t invented by interface designers. As an object of communication, they have a long and diverse history rooting in ancient times. They are found in maps, signs, schemes, manuals and many other sources of information. However, with the advent of new technologies and graphical user interfaces, icons experienced the new twist of progress. Historically, Xerox is mentioned in credits for creating the first icons for a graphical UI in the early 1970s: the icons were implemented in a machine called Xerox Alto which was very expensive and didn’t really go to the wide masses. Still, that was a beginning of a long story: in 1981, Xerox Star was released and it’s referred to as the first consumer computer which used icons as a part of its interface. In particular, it applied the icons of folders and trash bins which have been used so far.

 

icons xerox star

Source

 

Another milestone easily remembered on this way is presented with the color icons Apple revealed first in 1991 and then later with their further updates for Macintosh. They featured another approach to the style when icons combined functionality and informative capacity with attractive and harmonic appearance.

 

icons apple machintosh

Source

 

These days icons are presented in digital design with numerous packs and sets in all the themes and styles possible. Although there are many ready-made packs, the database of icons is growing all the time in search of new solutions appealing to users.

 

Talking about the classification of icons, we can mark out several aspects of grouping them on types.

 

Types based on functions

 

Clarifying icons

These are the icons aimed at explanation. They are visual markers explaining particular features or marking out categories of content. In some cases, they are not the layout elements of direct interaction; also, you can often find them in combination with copy supporting their meaning. This trick activates multiple elements of perception in one interaction providing better recognizability for call-to-action elements. People, who instantly understand the symbol transferred with the icon, won’t pay big attention to the copy. The same will happen to those who have problems with fast copy recognition. However, using the copy together with the icon decreases the risk of misunderstanding or wrong interactions for people who can possibly misinterpret the meaning of the image.

 

Homey app smart home UI

Homey App

 

saily app UI design

Category icons for Saily app

 

Interactive icons

The icons of this type are directly involved into interaction process and are the core supporters of navigation. They are clickable or tappable and respond to the users request doing the action symbolized by them. Their main goal is to inform users about the functions or features behind the buttons, controls and any other elements of interaction.

 

tubik studio tapbar ui

Tab Bar interactions

 

ui concept animation tubik studio

Menu interaction concept

 

Decorative and entertaining icons

 

The icons of this type give more about aesthetic appeal than functionality. However, this aspect is also significant and needs to be considered as the style and appearance corresponding to the target audience preferences and expectations set the solid ground for high desirability. Applied wisely, it is one of the features that can not only attract but also retain users and add much to the positive user experience. Decorative icons are often used to present seasonal features and special offers.

easter icons tubik studio

Easter and spring themed icons 

 

App icons

 

App icons are the interactive brand signs that present the application on different platforms supporting the original identity of the digital product. In most cases, it features the logo of the app designed according to the requirements set for this kind of icons. However, it also can apply something else, for example, a mascot or an abstract combination of corporate colors. The effective solution is usually based on thorough market and competition research with the aim of creating an original icon which won’t get lost on the screen full of other app icons.

 

logo design by Tubik studio

Elephun App Icon

 

Favicon

 

Favicon, also known as URL icon or bookmark icon, is a special type of symbol which represents the product or brand in the URL-line of the browser as well as in the bookmark tab. It allows users to get a quick visual connection with it while they are browsing. This interface element proved itself effective for productive website promotion and good recognizability of its visual identity.

 

Types based on visual performance

 

Glyph icons

 
The term “glyph”[glif] has come to design from the field of typography. The word takes its roots from the Greek word which means “carving”. Originally, the term presents an elements symbols or pictogram which is included in the set of symbols agreed upon many users (readers, writers etc.): it presents a readable character enabling people to write it.

 

In the sphere of typography, it is a certain graphic representation of an element of written language within a particular system of writing or particular typeface: it can be a grapheme, or part of a grapheme, or sometimes several graphemes in combination (a composed glyph). Here’s the set of ancient Celtic glyphs, for example.

 

pictish_rune_meanings

Source

 
In modern digital design, the word “glyph” reinvented its meaning but not into a sort of revolution. It is used to define a graphic symbol that provides the appearance or form for a character: it can be an alphabetic or numeric font as well as a symbol picturing an encoded character. Talking about icons, glyph icons are first of all described as a typographic symbol that represents something else, not letter or number. Among popular examples, you will also find the «@» symbol representing the preposition «at». For example, here is the set of icons for material design from Google.

 

material icons

Material icons

 

Glyph icons use simplified and universal shapes and images to be recognizable and flexible in terms of responsive design. They play the big role in the issues of navigation for a digital product.

 

weather_icons tubik studio

Weather icons

 

Flat and semi-flat icons

 

Flat icons are usually a bit more complex than glyph: they can apply color combinations, filling of the elements and present a bit more complicated images. Nevertheless, they are also focused on simple and recognizable visual metaphors quickly transferring the required meaning. The most prominent feature which actually has inspired the name of this direction is applying flat 2-dimensional visual details as the opposite to highly realistic and detailed skeuomorphic images. Flat style allows designers to be more flexible in applying the expressive power of colors and shapes not losing in legibility of the presented items.

 

tubik studio blog app

Blog App

 

Skeuomorphic icons

 

Skeuomorphism is the design direction somehow opposite to flat. It is based on the idea of reflecting images in 3D look very close to the original natural look of the physical objects. It was popular for GUI of different types and functionality several years ago. But then it was gradually replaced with flat design in UI which is simpler and therefore more flexible and practical for the needs of digital interfaces. Nevertheless, the skeuomorphic icons are still widely used in game design and app icons in game sector.

 

SVG icons

 

SVG icons, decoded as Scalable Vector Graphics, are responsive icons built on XML-based 2D vector images. They are designed and integrated according to an open standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) since 1999, and supported by all major browsers. SVG icons are growing their popularity as today websites are used on the diversity of platforms and devices and need to be responsive to provide positive UX.

 

Types based on applied image metaphor

 

This direction of icons typology is based on the research provided by the famous expert in usability Jackob Nielsen and revealed in his article for Nielsen Norman Group. In this perspective, icons can be divided into three core types according to the type of the metaphor they reflect.

 

Resemblance icons are the symbols directly depicting a physical object the icon represents. These are, for example, the magnifier for search, the shopping cart, the envelope for mail etc.

 

Reference icons are the symbols depicting an object on the basis of analogy. For instance, a picture of a clamp representing a file-compression utility (because it squeezes) goes to this group.

 

Arbitrary icons are the symbols which currently do not set direct connections with the objects and their recognizability is based on convention and power of habit. This is when we should remember about floppy disc representing «Save» function: although initially it was a reference icon, for many users now it doesn’t work like that — they just know the meaning solidly connected to this image for many years.

 

multimedia icons tubik studio

Multimedia Icon Set

 

Key features of effective icons

 

In one of our previous articles devoted to the role of icons in user interfaces, we have already described all the essential features making the icons efficient, so today let’s just quickly recall them.

  • clear — the meaning of the icon is understandable and accessible to the target audience
  • meaningful — the icon transfers the informative value
  • recognizable — the visual symbol applied in the icon is presented in the form which can be recognized and decoded correctly by users
  • simple — the icon isn’t overloaded with non-essential graphic elements which allows it to be quickly perceived and understood without too much effort
  • original and noticeable — the icon stands out among other similar elements of the interface which is especially actual for the app icons
  • scalable and flexible — the icon saves its unity, integrity, and legibility in different sizes and resolutions
  • attractive — the icon satisfies aesthetic expectations and sets harmonic visual appeal
  • non-offensive — the icon doesn’t have hidden meanings or misperceptions which could feel offensive or rude for any part of the target audience
  • consistent — the icon corresponds to the general stylistic concept of the layout it is applied for.

 

Icons in UI tubikstudio

 

Recommended reading

 

Here is a bunch of articles for further exploration of the topic:

 

Icon Classification: Resemblance, Reference, and Arbitrary Icons

A Brief History of the Origin of the Computer Icon

Iconic Simplicity. The Vital Role of Icons.

Visual Perception: Icons VS Copy in UI.

How to Combine Icons from Different Sets in Your UI


Welcome to see the designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance

human memory tips on ux design

How Human Memory Works: Tips for UX Designers.

One of the greatest information processors we deal with in our everyday life cannot be seen or touched. It cannot be bought or sold as well as taken from other people; however, it can be developed and strengthened by many ways. It cannot be easily described but belongs to the most precious features of human life and determines perhaps any step we take and any decision we make. It is a wonder we rarely think about that way. It’s human memory.

 

Memory presents an amazing natural complex of data storage and processing. It keeps great loads of information through life and is even able to organize it for the sake of the holder. Moreover, it takes responsibility of setting priorities and keeping some details which could be remembered just off the top of our heads while erasing others which seem not necessary or haven’t been used for a long time. Human memory is one of the mechanisms determining person’s interaction with the outer world.

 

Obviously, this aspect needs to be studied and considered in the sphere of UX design responsible for interfaces of all kinds. Knowing how memory works, designers can create human-centered interfaces which correspond to the natural abilities of the users, save their effort and boost usability.

 

Ui design trends by Tubik Blog

Healthy Food App

 

Basic points about memory

 

In general terms, human memory is the natural storage for the data right in the human brain. It reacts to the outer stimuli, collects the data, processes it and organizes in different ways. Also, it enables a person to access the needed data collected in the memory when it’s needed. However, it doesn’t present the perfect mechanism as it’s influenced by a big number of factors of physical and emotional nature.

 

Basically, psychologists mention three types of memory:

sensory memory holds the data for a short moment when we perceive it with our physical senses like hearing, vision or touch;

— short-term memory (working memory) allows a person to keep some data remembered for a short period of time without repetitions;

— long-term memory presents the storage for big quantities of diverse data which could be saved for long periods of time, potentially up to the whole lifetime.

 

The effective methods of getting the information kept in long-term memory are repetitions and associations. Taking a look at the scheme below, which was provided in the article by Learning Solutions Magazine, we can see the basic flow of data from the first outer stimulus to the long-term memory.

 

memory work

 

Creating the flow of interactions with a website or a mobile application, UX designers have to take this factor into account. Surely, they aim at long-term memory which will keep the core data about the app and will allow using the interface easily again and again. Knowing the steps moving the data to this storage enables designers to set the effective strategy of data perception and necessary repetitions. Also, it helps to organize the data on the screen properly and strengthen information architecture of the product.

 

Basic laws of memory

 

Three core aspects of memorizing which are mentioned by specialists in psychology are very simple:

 

1. Concentration. To remember a thing or chunk of data, a person needs to concentrate on it. Otherwise, the chances are high that the data will be discarded on the level of short-term memory.

2. Association. The memory presents the huge network of links connecting different data. If a person builds the association which links the new data or object with something well-known or kept in long-term memory, the chances of memorizing get higher.

3. Repetition. It is one of the effective ways to activate the data in working memory several times until it moves to the long-term memory storage.

 

Organization of the interface content based on these three points performs with visual hierarchy and perception which can mark important layout elements that should be remembered and make the interaction easier.

 

cinema app interaction ui animation

Cinema App

 

Expert explorations of memory

 

There are also some laws and rules which were concluded from various research, experiments and practical testing. Among them, we would mention Miller’s Law and Hick’s Law.

 

Miller’s Law

 

The number of objects an average person can hold in working memory is about seven.

 

This exploration was offered on the basis of scientific research by George Miller in 1956 psychological review «The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information». In general terms, it states that short-term memory of an average human is able to keep and process about seven objects or chunks of data plus/minus two at once. Obviously, the formulation given here is generalized as the real flow depends on many factors, including the nature of information.

 

Later studies, for example, the review by Richard Shiffrin and Robert Nosofsky called «Seven plus or minus two: A commentary on capacity limitations» provided deeper insights into the work of working memory. In particular, the authors mention that the number of objects which a person can remember at once after they were presented is dependent on the nature of the objects, on average with seven for digits, six for letters and about five for words. It gives the brain abilities to quickly process information, recognize its character and connection to the objects already existing in long-term memory and finalize memorizing.

 

In design perspective, this information plays the vital role in building up the usable and clear layout. Interfaces, which demand to remember too many options at once, can create the tension and get users irritated even if they aren’t able to describe the reason of unpleasant emotions.

 

landing page animation Tubik studio

Magic.co landing page

 

Hick’s Law

 

The more elements people get, the harder it is to make a choice.

 

At the first glance, it seems that this law is not about memory, still, the connection exists. Memory is one of the mechanisms that protects people from negative experience. The more options people get at once, the more distracted they get with numerous associations which can be called — and that’s impossible to predict how good or bad they can be in this particular case. In addition, giving many options for the choice at once, again we can overload users memory with the bigger number then the working memory can process. In particular, this factor needs special attention in cases of platforms for e-commerce, which should keep the hard balance between giving the user all the necessary information and overwhelming him or her with too many options. Finding this harmony is one of the major challenges for UX designers.

 

ui animation cafe app tubikstudio

Cafe Coupon App

 

Tips for memory-friendly UX

 

On the basis of the factors and explorations given above, let’s consider a set of tips applying this knowledge for the sake of usability.

 

1. Don’t make users memorize many items at once.

 

Definitely, it doesn’t mean that all the screens or pages should be limited to 5-9 elements. Still, the number of elements that present core interaction points would rather be considered in these terms. Making several objects in the layout prominent and attractive, designers can follow the law of concentration which will catch the key zones like menu, call-to-action, an image presenting the product etc. Visual hierarchy is one of the vital strategies that enables to create an interface containing many elements visually grouped and divided in a way which is digestible for human memory.

 

It is also effectively applied to the copy content in the interfaces. In the article, devoted to this issue, we mentioned some investigations: according to the research published by one of the popular social media sharing platforms Buffer, the ideal length of the headline is 6 words; Jacob Nielsen provides the study at which shows that headlines of 5-6 words work effectively, not less than extensive headlines presenting a full sentence. One of the reasons for that is obviously connected with the ability of the working memory to process such chunks of data faster and more effectively.

website design for photographers

Photography workshops

 

2. Don’t present too many elements for the choice together.

 

It’s important to care about the concentration ratio. If you present several choices, buttons, options at once, you should be ready that it will take more time and effort for user’s short-term memory to work them over and this can distract him or her from making the final decision or interaction. This can be the reason of inefficient landing pages or sales funnels: even if they are stunningly designed, the over-distracted user can go away before the conversion happens. Apply scrolling and transitions based on careful prioritization, dividing the objects on the screen or page into groups of primary, secondary and tertiary importance — this will help users and make navigation through the interface more natural.

 

book swap app tubik studio

Book Swap App

 

3. Save memory effort with recognizable patterns and symbols

 

No secret, people are visually driven creatures, so designers usually master the art of applying images that not only attract attention but also inform users and organize the content. In one of our articles, we gave the details on how users recognize icons and copy. It shows that pictorial elements such as icons and illustrations are perceived faster while copy can be more informative. This can be useful in interface design to apply diverse models and markers which are widely recognizable not only in this particular interface but generally in a variety of them. Magnifier icons for search, shopping cart for the page collecting orders, plus button for creating a new item, flags marking the buttons changing the language — all of them present the elements existing in human memory for a long time and bringing up correct associations without the need to keep and process new information.

 

Moreover, going to a broader perspective, most users expect to see the sign of the brand and the links to core sections of the website in the header while the contacts, privacy policy, terms of use and credits in the footer. Knowing these and other similar patterns of user behavior, designers can save users’ effort making basic operations simple and intuitive. This way it’s easier to focus user’s attention on new data and make its perception quick.

 

tubik studio behance weather app

Weather App

 

4. Apply consistent markers in navigation

 

Navigation is the crucial factor of usability. Enabling to move through the interfaces, it also presents the data which should be kept by users’ memory; therefore, designers apply a variety of techniques making transitions and interactions consistent and clear. For example, color or shape markers sorting out particular sections, icons defining specific groups of items, fonts used consistently for specific names or types of copy, illustrations and mascots uniting different screens — these and similar tricks boost memorability of the layout and often support user in processing new data.

 

Homey app smart home UI

Homey App

 

5. Don’t hide the core elements of navigation

 

The discussions about various menus showing or hiding blocks of content are still hot and popular. It’s vital to remember that the key aim of the interface should be the user clearly understanding what’s going on. So, the decision about hamburger menus, sliders, hidden layers of navigation and content should be based on the careful analysis of the target audience. In most cases, especially for the complex interfaces used by the diverse target audience, hiding core navigation elements can serve badly: users need to find and memorize the patterns of reaching them. Some users can appreciate the techniques saving space for other elements, while the others will be annoyed with the necessity to remember how to find the necessary section. Again, prioritization plays the great role: hiding secondary elements while leaving primary ones always visible, designers focus users’ attention on what is the core for them. User testing helps to evaluate the efficiency of the navigation flow and its impact on conversion rate.

 

bookshop website animation

Bookshop Website

 

6. Stimulate different types of memory

 

Remember the scheme given above? You could see that the first and the quickest stage of absorbing data is the sensory memory. Basically, it is divided into several types of memory which depend on the sensor: it can be visual, audio, kinesthetic, verbal, mechanical etc. Activating them, not only do designers create more memorable interaction flows, but also support broader circles of users. Research and experiments show that different people have different types of memory as the most effective for them. That’s why, for example, icons given with copy in the names of core categories of the menu can boost usability supporting users via both visual and verbal memory. Sounds accompanying interactions also create memorable flows and operations.

 

tubik studio application recipes and cooking

Recipe App

 

7. Remember about emotions

 

Make no mistake, emotional feedback from the interaction is the great factor in retaining or losing users. Bad experience stimulates quicker forgetting the details but tends to leave general negative feeling because in this way brain tries to protect the human. Vice versa, positive emotions, be it fun, aesthetic satisfaction, gratification for the quickly solved problem or accessible communication can bring the person back to feel it again and again. 

 

ui animation design tubik

Night in Berlin App

 

So, the bottom line is simple: creating interfaces for people, designers have to know how people interact with the world and what influences their behavior. Human memory is one of the essential features determining successful and positive user experience on both conscious and unconscious levels, so it needs to be studied, considered and tested for human-centered UX design.

 

Recommended reading

 

Here is a bunch of useful links which could provide further interesting explorations of the topic:

 

Short-Term Memory and Web Usability

 

UX and Memory: Present Information at Relevant Points

 

The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information

 

User Memory Design: How To Design For Experiences That Last

 

Visual Perception. Icons vs Copy in UI.

 

Total (Memory) Recall

 

The Properties of Human Memory and Their Importance for Information Visualization


Welcome to see the designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance

home budget app case study

Case Study: Home Budget App. UI for Finance.

Benjamin Franklin once said: “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” Management of finance and accounts has been an actual issue for a long time; still, for the recent decades, it has got a new perspective with the advent of modern technologies and the internet which is becoming more and more accessible. It presents a new challenge for designers and developers in terms of digital products which will help people to track and manage their money flows both professionally or just for themselves. 

 

This theme built up the foundations for a new UI design concept created in terms of Tubik UI Fridays: one of the creative sessions was devoted to Home Budget, the application for finance management. The creative team of UI/UX designers Ernest Asanov and Dima Panchenko and motion designers Kirill Erokhin and Andrey Pixy worked under art direction by Sergey Valiukh. Let’s review what design solutions were presented for the task.

 

Task

 

UI/UX design for the web and mobile versions of a personal budget manager

 

Process

 

Describing the functionality of the app in general terms, Home Budget allows users to manage their expenses and incomes, creating the extended database for tracking financial flows or changes and getting comprehensive stats. The app was planned to have two variants: the web version presented with an informative dashboard and the mobile version giving simpler information and enabling to add new data quickly and easily. 

 

For both variants of interfaces, the designers agreed about the dark background of the layout and the fonts which would have the high level of legibility for both letters and numbers. 

 

Dashboard

 

The web dashboard was aimed at presenting extended stats for the particular period. The choice of generally dark interface enabled the designer to create the attractive layout with prominently visible colored details drawing users’ attention to the interactive zones of key importance.

 

Dashboard_home_budget UI

 

With the dashboard, the users can get the data about their expenses and incomes processed and shown as a variety of statistics for a particular period. As we can see, different blocks of data are organized around cards. The presented page features the overview of the core blocks for the period of the recent week. The horizontal menu in the top part presents the navigation zone enabling the user to set the default periods of overview such as last week or last month as well as choose the custom period they are interested in. 

 

The cards present such information blocks of data:

— the menu with quick access to popular categories of expenses

— information on total expenses and frequency of transactions

— the list of popular transactions

— the cloud of expenses and weekly average rate in comparison to the previous period

— the line graphs of expenses and income for the chosen period graded by day on the horizontal axis and sums on the vertical axis

— the map with the pins marking the most frequent locations of spending money

— the block of recommendations based on financial operations of the period.

 

Another visual detail that could be mentioned is that for the graphs and markers presenting actual financial changes, the designer applied green and red colors which are widely recognized as signs of positive and negative financial balance. Also, the list of popular categories supports the presentation of each particular category with both name and icon to enhance navigation and make interactions intuitive. 

 

Home_budget_app_dashboard_animation_tubik

 

Here’s a piece of animated interactions with the dashboard. Slight unobtrusive motion of the layout elements supports natural microinteractions. When the graphs expand, the other blocks shrink naturally leaving the names of theme blocks visible and readable so that users could continue transitions easily.

 

Mobile UI

 

The other direction of the creative process was focused on the UI for a mobile app. While the dashboard is aimed at not only adding information but also presenting the results of its analysis, the mobile interface has the other core focus of functionality: first of all it is concentrated on having the user informed about the operation of the current day and enables to add new data in different environments and on the go.

 

home budget app mobile screen

 

Here is the feed of the latest financial operations, marked by categories shown via icons. The top part of the screen shows the tab of the users’ basic data and marks the credit card used currently. Also, you can see the graph reflecting the flow of finances during the day showed with vertical bars. To interact with it, users can apply horizontal scrolling. When the tab is active, the bottom shadow gives a prompt on that imitating interaction with physical objects.

 

home budget app mobile notifications

 

To get the access to the core zones of interaction, the users can press the hamburger button located in the bottom left corner which supports usability for those, who use devices with big screens. The application also shows the important notifications or recommendations to the user: they are shown in the top part of the screen, under the profile tab and over the bar chart zone. The notifications are presented in different colors that mark the nature of the message, for instance, applying orange for warnings and blue for reminders. 

 

Also, the user can interact with each particular position in the list. Left swipe opens the menu of options marked with icons: the entry can be quickly edited, shared or deleted.

 

Home Budget app interactions motion tubik

 

The mobile interface was also supported with animations. The one above shows the interaction with the hamburger menu divided into three sections.

 

home budget app interaction animation tubik

 

Another piece of animation shows interaction with the feed of financial operations for the current day. The warning notification adds more dynamic experience, attracting user’s attention with pulsing movement, and can be removed with a left swipe.

 

home budget app case study

 

This project has started the deeper immersion into the world of digital products for finance management for Tubik team and that was definitely the inspiring experience to be continued in further creative sessions. Follow the updates for new concepts and welcome to check the previous cases from Tubik UI Friday: landing page for Big City Guide and mobile interface for Night in Berlin app.


Welcome to see the designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance

tubikstudio homepage design

Best Practices for Website Header Design

Everyone knows: there is not the second chance to make the first impression. In the sphere of digital products, this eternal truth works in terms of high competition and incredible diversity. No doubt, some zones of the webpage or mobile screen are particularly important and effective in this aspect. Today we are going to discuss one of them in deeper focus: the header of the website.

 

In the issue of UI/UX glossary devoted to the web design terms, we have already provided the brief overview of what is a header. Today let’s look a bit closer at the topic and discuss what are the functions of a header and recommendations for its design. In addition, we will show a bunch of web design concepts applying different approaches to header design.

 

What is a header?

 

In web page layout, header is the upper (top) part of the web page. It is definitely a strategic part of the page as the area which people see before scrolling the page in the first seconds of introduction to the website. Being somehow a sign of invitation, header should provide the core information about the digital product so that users could scan it in split seconds. In design perspective, header is also the area making the broad field for creative design solutions which should be catchy, concise and useful. Headers are often referred to as «Site Menus» and positioned as a key element of navigation in the website layout.

 

tubikstudio ui webdesign

 

The presented concept shows the home page for the online bookshop selling comics. The top horizontal area aka header presents the logo lettering showing the name of the website and the core navigation around: links to the catalog of items, fresh and special offers, blog, action figures, an icon of the shopping cart typical e-commerce websites and the icon of search.

 

What can a header include?

 

Headers can include a variety of meaningful layout elements, for example:

  • basic elements of brand identity: logo, brand name lettering, slogan or company statement, corporate mascot, photo presenting the company or its leader, corporate colors etc.
  • copy block setting the theme of the product or service presented
  • links to basic categories of website content
  • links to the most important social networks
  • basic contact information (telephone number, e-mail etc.)
  • switcher of the languages in case of multi-lingual interface
  • search field
  • subscription field
  • links to interaction with the product such as trial version, downloading from the AppStore etc.

It doesn’t mean that all the mentioned elements should be included in one web page header: in this case, the risk is high that the header section would be overloaded with information. The more objects attract user’s attention, the harder it is to concentrate on the vital ones. On the basis of design tasks, designers, sometimes together with marketing specialists, decide on the strategically important options and pick them up from the list or add the others.

 

Let’s have a look at a couple of examples to see which of the mentioned elements designers placed in the header for particular websites.

 

tubikstudio ui animation website design

 

This is the website of an interior design studio. The upper part of the page presents the sticky header which stays in the zone of visual perception all the time in the process of scrolling. It is divided into two blocks: the left part features brand logo while the right part presents the interactive area with links to several information blocks like «Product», «Studio» and «Press» and call-to-action button «Shop» marked out with a shape. The central part of the header uses negative space for visual separation of these two blocks.

 

tubikstudio homepage design

 

Here is another sample of the webpage with a bit different approach to the header design. This time the composition is built around the center featuring the logo and brand name. Left and right side are balanced around it with two links each allowing users to scan quickly and move to the information blocks they are interested in.

 

Why is header important?

 

There are several issues why the header is a vital element of many websites.

 

The first thing to consider is eye-scanning models which show how users interact with a webpage in the first seconds. This significant domain of user research is massively supported by Nielsen Norman Group and provides designers and usability specialists with the better understanding of user behavior and interactions.

 

In brief, when people visit the website, especially the first time, they do not explore everything on the page carefully and in detail: they scan it to find a hook which would catch their attention and convince them to spend some time on the website. Different experiments collecting data on user eye-tracking have shown that there are several typical models along which visitors usually scan the website. In the article about 3 design layouts, the author Steven Bradley mentions the following common models: Gutenberg Diagram, Z-Pattern, And F-Pattern. Let’s check what are the schemes provided for them in the research.

reading pattern

Guttenberg Pattern is quite typical for the web pages with the uniform presentation of information and weak visual hierarchy. As it can be seen from the scheme we found in Steven Bradley’s research, it marks out four active zones — and two of them go across the typical header area.

 

reading pattern zig-zag

Another scheme features Z-pattern and the presented zig-zag version is typical for pages with visually divided content blocks. Again, the reader’s eyes go left to right starting from the upper left corner and moving across all the page to the upper right corner scanning the information in this initial zone of interaction.

 

f_reading_pattern_eyetracking

 

One more model is F-pattern presented in the explorations by Nielsen Norman Group and showing that users often demonstrate the following flow of interaction:
 

  • Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
  • Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
  • Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. Sometimes this is a fairly slow and systematic scan that appears as a solid stripe on an eye-tracking heatmap. Other times users move faster, creating a spottier heatmap. This last element forms the F’s stem.

 

All the mentioned models show that whichever of them a particular user follows, the scanning process will start in the top horizontal area of the webpage. Using it for showing the core information and branding is a strategy supporting both sides: readers scan the key data quickly while website gets the chance to retain them if it’s presented properly. That is the basic reason why header design is an essential issue for UI/UX designers as well as content and promotion specialists.

 

In one of the articles devoted to practices of header design, its author Bogdan Sandu mentions an important point that should be kept in mind: «People judge the quality of a website in just a few seconds and a second impression is something absent on the Internet. In conclusion, a website must be eye-catching else, it would be nothing more than a big failure».

 

Another thing to consider is that the header can become a great help in presenting the essential data to the user quickly and providing positive user experience via clear navigation. However, that doesn’t mean that every website needs a header. There are many creative solutions providing designs applying typical header functionality in other zones of the layout. Every case of website design needs analysis and research of target audience for the product or service.

 

Design practices

 

Readability and visual hierarchy

 

The choice of typefaces for headers and the background color should get under highly rigorous research and testing as the aspect of readability in header plays a vital role. The user has to be able to scan and perceive this basic information as fast as possible without any sort of additional effort. Otherwise, you risk providing the non-user-friendly interface.

 

online magazine design tubik studio

 

The design concept for a news website presented above features the header including the title of the website as a central element of the composition, two active links to basic categories of publications, link to live mode and search field marked with a magnifier icon.

 

web design UI concept tubik studio

 

Here is another website whose layout is built on the broken grid, so the header corresponds to this approach. The left part of the header is visually longer and consists of four elements: the logo and the links to three data blocks, while the right part is shorter and includes only two layout elements: search and call-to-action button market out with the shape and colored for the high level of contrast.

 

One more thing to remember is that there are different ways for a header to transform in the process of scrolling the page down. Some websites use fixed header, which always stays visible and active at any point of interaction with the website; others hide the header in the process of scrolling. There are also websites which do not fully hide the header but shrink it in size in the process of scrolling, which means that they hide secondary information and leave only the core elements of the layout active and available during all the process of interaction.

 

Hamburger menu

 

Another design solution which is quite popular in perspective of header functionality is hiding basic links of data categories behind the hamburger button. It is called so as its form consisting of horizontal lines looks like typical bread-meat-bread hamburger.

 

hamburger button tubik studio

 

This button is usually placed in the header and nowadays it is a typical element of interaction. Most users who visit and use websites on the regular basis know that this button hides the core categories of data so this trick does not need additional explanations and prompts. Hamburger menus free the space making the interface more minimalistic and full of air as well as save the place for other important layout elements. This design technique also provides additional benefits for responsive and adaptive design hiding navigation elements and making the interface look harmonic on different devices.

 

tubik studio ice ui website

The presented web design concept shows the version of hamburger menu. As the menu of the website contains many positions, the designer uses this technique placing the hamburger button in the area of initial interaction — top left corner. It allows creating the header supporting general minimalistic style of the website. The horizontal area of the header is divided into two zones: the left zone presents branding and a short introduction of the website colored in red and keeping visual consistency with visual performance of the headline and call-to-action element of the page; the right zone features icons of social networks and search icon. The central part of the header is left empty which adds some air and balance to its design and works as a negative space separating two different functional blocks.

 

tubik studio web UI design

 

This design concept presents the website with an original structure of the page, leaving the wide light margin in the left part of the page, with the brand name and logo in the top left part which is the first point of scanning. The other part presents interactive zone and has its own header composition: hamburger button to the left and four core links of transition to the right. As this example of interaction shows, hamburger menu allows the designer to organize numerous theme blocks of information and provide effective visual hierarchy. 

 

Although hamburger menus still belong to highly debatable issues of modern web and app design, they are still widely used as header elements. The arguments against hamburger menu are based on the fact that this design element can be confusing for people who do not use websites regularly and can get misled with the sign which features a high level of abstraction. So the decision about applying hamburger button should be made after user research and definition of target audience’s abilities and needs.

 

Fixed (Sticky) header

 

Sticky headers present another trend able to boost usability is applied effectively. Actually, it enables to provide users with navigation area available at any point of interactions, which can be helpful in terms of content-heavy pages with long scrolling.

 

Tubik studio UI design

 

The presented design concept of a website has a fixed header which doesn’t hide while the page is scrolled. However, it follows minimalism principles featuring brand name lettering as a center of the composition, magnifier icon marking search functionality and hamburger button hiding links to navigation areas.

 

website design for photographers

 

Here is one more design concept featuring creative approach to the header design. The initial view of the home page includes the extremely minimalistic header: it shows only social icons and the search. However, scrolling down users get the sticky header with quite a traditional set of navigation items: the first element to see on the top left part is hamburger button hiding the extended menu, then branding sign followed by the links to thematic information blocks. The composition is finished with the search placed in the top-right part of the page in all the process of interaction with the page and supporting the feeling of consistency.

 

Double menu

 

Double menu in the header can present two layers of navigation. We have shown the example of such trick in one of the recent case studies for a bakery website.

 

Bakery website design case study tubik

 

As you can see, the website also uses a sticky header which consists of two levels of navigation. The upper menu shows the links to social networks, the logo, search, shopping cart and hamburger button hiding the extended menu. The second line of navigation gives instant connection to the core interaction areas:  products catalog, locations for the point-of-sales, news and special offers, information about the service and contact section. Visual and typographic hierarchy makes all the elements clear and easily scanned providing solid ground for positive user experience.

 

The bottom line is simple here: header of any website is the strategically vital zone of interaction for any website. Each particular case requires its own approach which will be informative and usable for the specific target audience. User research can provide the good basis for the design solutions which can follow quite traditional forms of header organization or require totally new perspective.

 

Recommended reading

 

Here is a bunch of links to the articles and design collections which could provide further interesting explorations of the topic:

 

3 Design Layouts: Gutenberg Diagram, Z-Pattern, And F-Pattern

 

F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content

 

Sticky Header Usability: Making Menus Part of a Great User Experience

 

30 Interesting Examples Of Headers In Web Design

 

Headerlove: curated collection of headers design


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Welcome to read the UI/UX Glossary: Web Design

big city guide web ui design

Case Study: Big City Guide. Landing Page Design.

People say the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. It’s hard to argue since traveling is always a chance to learn new things, meet new people and do something absolutely extraordinary. What’s more, a nice trip can become a source of life energy and inspiration. Today, travelers have more opportunities than ever before and the World Wide Web plays the significant role here. The Internet provides loads of information about various countries and their cultures helping travelers decide where to wend their way.

 

Tubik designer Tania Bashkatova loves traveling as much as design, so she often combines these passions to create sophisticated concepts devoted to travelings and nature. Today we present the case study on the design concept of the website for travelers called the Big City Guide.

 

tubik ui designer

 

Task

 

UI/UX design for onboarding landing page presenting a website about big cities all over the world.

 

Process

 

The Big City Guide (BCG) is one of the first works made in terms of Tubik UI Fridays. Those following Tubik team on Dribbble already know about our new tradition which is the set of creative sessions when the designers have a day to work on the design concepts out of current projects. The concepts are created within a particular general idea of a digital product but with all the passion and freedom for the designers’ artistic souls.

 

During one of these creative sessions, the task was given to design the landing page for the online resource providing the information about big cities around the world. Typically for the design of landing pages, the designer decided to apply expressive and informative potential of the background images. The objective set for the visual design was to convey the mood and the atmosphere via one photo for each city. The solution found for this aim was the animated widget with horizontal scrolling presenting three big cities in order to create the efficient visual perception of the information for the target readers. The three different capital cities were chosen to show how dissimilar styles can be united in one design.

 

The first page of the BCG concept presents Berlin. The city is filled with various sights so it was the difficult choice to make. The designer tested many pictures to find the one which would bring the right mood of the city. In the end, there were two variants.

 

Berlin big city guide ui

 

big city guide berlin tubik

 

Both pictures make an effective design but the second conveys the atmosphere of solid and futuristic Berlin better so the designer favored it. The name of the city becomes the center of the composition, bold and quickly readable in strong uppercase letters. The word sets the high perspective of the famous tower. The letters are arranged among the spires in the way which gives the feeling they always were there.

 

The second featured city is Madrid. It is often thought that Spanish capital city fully consists of medieval buildings but that’s not exactly true. Today Madrid is one of the modern European business centers, so the designer decided to present the modern side of the city. Here is one of the examples made while searching for the best fitting picture.

 

Madrid big city guide ui

 

Yet the priority has been given to the bridge in contemporary style. Keeping the consistent scheme with the previous page, the center of the composition remains the name of the city. The word shows the deep perspective with the modern construction echoing the form of the swirl or vortex. The subheading presents the motivating line gives the mood of the energetic and bright city. Here is the final result.

 

Big City Guide Madrid tubik

 

Every new day brings new knowledge. Searching for the perfect background photo the designer missed the fact that there is not only Madrid in Spain but also another one in Iowa, USA. The Internet played a joke with the designer mixing photos of two Madrids, so it’s impossible to distinguish them for those who haven’t visited all the corners of these places. Well, that’s good to take lessons from the errors, and this case gave us all the chance to learn something new.

 

The last city featured is Stockholm. It is full of magnificent ancient buildings and modern-styled places, so the designer experimented with various photos of the city places. Here is the example with the picture of the underground in Stockholm which presents the part of the creative search for the visual concept.

 

Stockholm big city guide ui

 

However, all the urban photos couldn’t convey the unique atmosphere of Stockholm. That’s why the designer comes from the other side. Stockholm is one of the biggest Scandinavian cities, so nothing can deliver the Nordic vibes better than its nature.

 

web ui design city guide

 

This is the final variant of the Stockholm page. The content elements on the page are placed similarly to the previous with the name of the city in the center. The word is harmonically inscribed into the thematic picture with deep and magnificent Nordic forest. The subheading presents the motivating line whose message naturally combines with the image and the associations set by the city.

 

The onboarding landing page applies simple structure recognizable for users. The left part of the header features a clickable logo BCG taking users to the home page. The header menu allows people to see the full list of cities, go to the blog or learn the maps. Also, the service provides the registration feature. The search icon completes the header.

 

The vital part of any city guide is the description copy. Since the pages are focused on the name of the city, short copy is placed at the left bottom part of the page. CTA button under the text provides users with an opportunity to read more if they are interested in detailed information. The users can also find social network links easily in the footer.

 

The final stage of work on the landing page was the animation of the presented layouts, accomplished by motion designer Kirill Erokhin.

 

Big City Guide animation tubik

 

The static variants of pages have different colors of the background, but in the final animated version, all pages are united with one color. Smooth animation adds the dynamic nature of traveling and supports the feeling of consistent interaction. Navigation through the pages can be accomplished in two ways: via navigation button and with the help of progress bar placed on the top of the page. They both use the same contrast color to keep the visual consistency and make all the ways of navigation clear.

 

As we can see, despite the fact that all cities differ by style and energy they bring, the designer managed to keep them in a single tone creating the feeling of the website unity. Moreover, such a construction of the landing page makes it flexible for further alterations, for example, adding more pages of the cities which are particularly popular with readers of the website.

 

Tubik UI Fridays go on for more concepts and case studies we will share with you soon. So, follow our blog and Dribbble not to miss the updates.


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graphic design tutorial tubik studio

Onboarding Tutorial Design: Greet, Inform, Engage.

The well-known quote by Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu says: «A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step». When applied to numerous digital products, this simple yet powerful truth works the same way: the story of dealing with the app or a website starts from the first impression through the decision on trying to the actual interaction. All this process usually takes a little time but it’s often crucial to set the bonds between the user and the product. So, today let’s look a bit closer at onboarding process, starting from the popular technique of introducing the app to the user — onboarding tutorial.

 

ui animation design tubik

Social Network Tutorial

 

What is onboarding?

 

First of all, let’s look through the basic terminology. The concept of onboarding basically comes from the sphere of employment and HR: it is used to mark the number of steps and techniques aimed at helping newcomers to adapt to the new conditions and get comfortable to bring out good results. It’s not a secret that for many people trying something new is a sort of stress which demands some effort and consideration, so a little help could make the decision-making process easier and more harmonic. Special tactics enable to correct possible inconveniences and make people more confident at the new place, which means they become productive and socialized with their colleagues faster, bringing benefits to the company.

 

The advent of digital products as an integral part of everyday life absorbed this idea together with the term immediately. In this sphere, onboarding is the number of techniques and interactions whose objective is to comfort user and give the first concise introduction of the product.

 

One of the important issues which should be made by a designer working on user onboarding is thinking over the clear priorities. Users have limited time which they are ready to devote to learning how the product works before starting actual interaction with it. Moreover, people have limited capacities of working memory, and setting the priorities, creators of the product decide which dose of information is needed for this or that stage instead of trying to give the big amount of data at once making the user confused or embarrassed. In one of the recent articles in Adobe Creative Cloud Blog, UX researcher and cognitive psychologist Rob Youmans, who is YouTube’s Head of UX Research Sciences, says “When it comes to design, the place that I see primacy and recency in particular is in terms of onboarding. When you start to learn about a new product there’s often a tutorial, wizard, instructions or something. It’s wise for designers to consider primacy and recency in this context because you’re going to want to put the most important information first or last if you’re hoping that someone is going to remember them later as they use your product or system.”

 

What is onboarding tutorial?

 

Onboarding tutorial is the set of screens which are shown to the user in case of the first interaction with the product. In the vast majority of cases, designers apply 3-4 screens telling the initial information about the product to the new user. App tutorial is the sign of respect to the user: it gives the quick insight into what problems the app solves, how it can help the user and what benefits it gives. Surely, it is a good technique of boosting usability from the first minutes of interaction if it’s informative and clear.

 

tutorial_design_tubik_studio

Shauts App Tutorial

 

Why do you need the tutorial for your app?

 
Three basic functions of an app tutorial for easy onboarding could be described as following.

 

Greeting

 

App tutorials set the first contact between the user and the app. It is an act of introduction, in most cases imitating real communication starting with a greeting like «Hi!». It is especially actual when the app has a mascot or character which becomes a direct subject of communication with a user. Still, it’s important to be extremely careful and make the greeting as short and quick as possible not to distract users too much from the essential information.

 

Information

 

This is perhaps the most precious part of the tutorial mission for the user. First of all, the tutorial is a tactic of user onboarding, so it should inform users about the benefits they get using this product or basic operations they are going to do. User research and clearly set USP of the product will help the designer and copywriter to find the ways of providing the vital points quickly to the users.

 

Engagement

 

Another benefit of the tutorial is making it a foundation laid for building solid desirability of the product. Tutorials can quickly show the user the most beneficial sides of the products engaging them to try and tolerate with possibly hard first steps into unknown. Moreover, designed nicely, the tutorial provides the first insight into the style and appearance of the product which is (should be) based on the target audience research and becomes another hook boosting interest to see more. In most cases, users are visually driven and even more — aesthetically driven creatures: we tend to get interested with what appeals to our ideas of beauty and harmony or sets particular emotions via visual performance. And tutorial becomes a favorable way to set this approach from the first seconds.

 

tubik toonie help screens interaction

Toonie Alarm tutorial

 

What are the points to consider for tutorial design?

 

The structure and content of the app tutorial are surely highly individual for every particular project. As we mentioned in the articles devoted to UX research and creative stages of app design, there are numerous factors influencing the design solutions depending on three major perspectives: user needs/ wishes/ expectations, product nature, and business goals. Being the initial site of introduction of the product to the user, the tutorial is also the point of analysis and creative approach to presenting the essential information in the way which is dynamic, edible and attractive to the target user.

 

Custom images or illustrations

 

Most people perceive and decode images faster than words. It makes usage of illustrations logical and rational for app tutorials which have to give the information quickly. In the article devoted to the benefits of illustrations in UI, we mentioned that in the case of tutorials, illustrations, be it photos or originally drawn images, fully reveal their potential in explanation and clarification. The options can be totally diverse from simple icon-like to artistic and sophisticated artworks. Illustrations of this kind become a good way to boost usability minimizing the necessity of using the copy on the screens. They are particularly efficient in apps for kids and youngsters as they usually feel this sort of explanations more user-friendly.

 

travel app tutorial tubik studio

Travel App Tutorial

 

Design trends of the recent year have demonstrated the increasing popularity of custom illustrations created for the specific interfaces. App tutorials became the favorable ground featuring the variety of styles and approaches. In many cases, illustration becomes the center of the composition and its aim is to present a specific feature or benefit in an attractive and easily decodable way. Another popular approach is applying a mascot, which is a character imitating the flow of real communication with the user and setting emotional bonds.

 

Illustration Saily Tubik Studio design

Saily App Tutorial

 

Copywriting and typography

 

In the case of tutorials, words are power. However, there are two simple rules to support this power: tell them short and make them helpful. No secret, that writing a short informative sentence is much harder than writing a long one: you have to find the effective way not to waste those precious seconds which user is ready to devote to reviewing tutorial screens. If it’s possible, involve the professional copywriter who will find the way of creating copy for the interface that makes every single letter count. Make your homework, take time and effort to create the concise, attractive and clear copy which applies the language appealing correctly to target audience and corresponding to the objectives set for the product. As well as designed solutions, the copy should be tested as much as possible to find the shortest ways of informing users.

 

One more aspect that designers should bear in mind is that copy is one more visual element of design. As well as the icons, fields, buttons, illustrations, toggles and the like, it literally occupies the part of the screen or webpage as any other graphic component and influences the general stylistic presentation of the app or website. Furthermore, the success of the efficient copy directly depends on such design solutions as the choice of types and fonts, background, placement of the copy. All the mentioned aspects greatly affect the level of readability, so when they are done inappropriately, the copy will lose the chance to get all its potential applied, even being highly meaningful.

 

graphic design tutorial tubik studio

Singify App Tutorial

 

Animation

 

One more method to make tutorial not only informative but also attractive and engaging is applying animation. Motion makes interaction more dynamic, it is able to breathe life into the interface, amaze and catch user’s attention. One more good point is that animation can make the important details more noticeable. On the other hand, motion can increase the time and traffic needed to get it loaded, so it should be wisely applied and discussed with developers in the aspect of its technical realization.

 

ui animation design tubik

WaykeApp Tutorial

 

Clear page/screen indicator

 

Usually, tutorials consist of several screens, each devoted to one point or benefit to present. It’s vital to remember that from this very start of interaction users should know where they are and how long is the path. Page/screen indicator is a good and simple way to inform users about the flow of the process, and it shouldn’t be neglected.

 

Ability to skip

 

Another thing to consider is the choice of skipping the tutorial. Not all the users need it, even using the product for the fist time, so for some products, it could be reasonable to give them the ability to skip the tutorial. The decision upon this function has to be done on the basis of testing and analysis of the target audience.

 

underwater world encyclopedia design tubik

Underwater World Encyclopedia — section tutorial

 

In the bottom line, it’s vital to remember: in the interface, all the details count. Well-known proverb checked by many generations says: a good dress is a card of invitation, a good mind is a letter of recommendation. Surely, if the presented product is nothing good or helpful for the user, whatever good the tutorial will be designed, it won’t save the situation. However, if the product is user-friendly and problem-solving, app tutorial gives another chance to make the introduction smooth and pleasant. Good dress helps to impress — and thought-out app tutorial can easily prove it.


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upper app UI design case study

Case Study: Upper App. UI Design for To-Do List.

Famous author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said: «You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.» Planning our day and managing our tasks is the significant job we have to do regularly and devotedly in case we seek for success. Tons of books, articles and interviews from successful and productive people generally send the global message: to be productive you have to plan your day and tasks distributing your time and effort wisely. 

 

Would you like to have a reliable helping hand in the process of planning your days and setting goals effectively and without any distractions? Welcome to try Upper, simple and elegant free application for iPhones, designed and developed by Tubik team. Today this motivating to-do list is featured and spinning up at Product Hunt, so we’ve also decided to unveil some details of design and functionality with our readers.

 

Upper App to-do list tubik

 

Task

 

Full-cycle UI/UX design for the simple and motivational productivity app for iPhones.

 

Process

 

Creating the to-do list application, Tubik team realized the high scale of competition in this sphere of utilities: that was a step into the red ocean. Still, as it usually happens in the fields covering wide and diverse target audience, a variety of the products is another user-friendly feature: it allows choosing the styles and features every particular user likes. Continuing the theme of personal productivity, which was started with our previous app Toonie Alarm, we’ve established the goal to present the app of totally different look and functionality deeply focused on personal and professional motivation.

 

 upper app UI design

 

In UX perspective, the app interface was concentrated on extremely simple interactions and intuitive navigation, while in UI design the core concerns gathered around high readability level and visual hierarchy that would allow users to use the app easily in any environment and on the go. In addition, working over the visual performance of the app user interface, Tubik designer Ernest Asanov made a general stylistic concept choice in favor of minimalist and elegant solutions.

 

Functionality

 

The basic idea set behind Upper was creating helpful to-do list, deeply concentrating user’s attention on the tasks and deadline. That’s why it doesn’t include complex functionality, distractions or decorations. It presents only the features and elements needed for time and task management.

 

Functions and features provide the following:

  • All the features of the app are free for everyone
  • Upper Streak Challenge motivate users to complete all the tasks for the day
  • Statistics of tasks completion
  • Simple and clear navigation
  • Easy adding, deleting and marking tasks
  • Eye-pleasing slight animation
  • Instant sharing achievements with friends

 

upper app UI design case study

 

Design and Layout

 

Interactions: The basic functionality of the app is built around user’s ability to create the list of tasks which can be saved for the particular date and time, easily deleted or marked complete. In addition, Upper analyzes task completion progress and shows stats to keep users updated and motivated. The absence of distractions, simple screen design and thought-out typography make the content highly readable and allow using the app easily in any environment and on-the-go.

 

upper app UI design case study

 

Basic functional buttons are placed in the bottom of the screen, which supports usability for users with big devices. Different swipe gestures allow a user to mark the task complete or delete it from the list. Core information such as dates, the words for the closest days (tomorrow, today), the number of tasks and days in Upper Streak are presented in uppercase font, supporting both efficient visual hierarchy of the layout elements and the harmonic consistency in combination with the product brand name.

 

Upper App to-do list 7

 

Upper Streak: The original feature of Upper App is user motivation with special challenge of non-breaking plans and increasing productivity potential: the app motivates to complete all the planned tasks via Upper Streak Challenge. Streak is the period during which users don’t interrupt completing the tasks with Upper: it shows the achievement in being consistent and productive and encourages not to stop and break the progress. Seeing your determination, the app will challenge you with bigger number of tasks, so users are motivated to get organized and complete the plans with Upper without missing a day.

 

upper app UI design case study

 

Color and style: The app is designed in minimalist and elegant style of layout based deeply on quick functionality and intuitive navigation. What is more, users are provided with the variety of skins and can choose between dark, light and red skin depending on their personal taste and wishes. At the moment the app is presented in dark skin, but next update coming very soon will let users activate any of the three palettes.

 

upper app UI design case study

 

User-friendly navigation, supported with slight eye-pleasing animation, will help users to focus on their tasks.  No ads, no complications, no extra copy, interface motivating to create short concise notes for the tasks – nothing will distract from the goals. Application provides the simple calendar, allows saving notes conveniently, check stats and plan anything from everyday stuff to business objectives.

 

upper app UI design case study

 

To get more information on design and interactions, you can also review the full presentation of Upper App design or check full pack of the details via Upper Press Kit


Welcome to see full presentation on Product Hunt

Welcome to download Upper App via App Store

Welcome to see the designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance

design navigation UI UX tubik studio

UI/UX Design Glossary. Navigation Elements.

One of the basic features of product usability is thoughtfully created navigation. It doesn’t matter if the visual performance is creative, stylish, original, catchy and so on and so forth, in case the users don’t know where they are and how they could reach their goals with the website or app. Whatever is the reason that brings users to your digital product, the high level of respecting them means letting them know what is going on and where they are going at every step of interaction with it. Earlier we have already published the Glossary posts with key terms for the topics of usability and web design as well as business terms and abbreviations. This time the perspective will get focused on navigation aspect: let’s check out what parts and elements of the interface are responsible for this vital issue. 

 

Dribbble shot Tubik Studio

 

Navigation

 

In its basic meaning, the word navigation names the sphere of human activity responsible for enabling a vehicle to get from one place to the other, controlling and supporting this process. According to etymology dictionary, the term has deep roots and comes from the Latin word navigare «to sail, sail over, go by sea, steer a ship,» which in its turn is based on two words: navis «ship» and agere «to set in motion, drive, drive forward». So, to navigate is to make possible for someone or something to cover the planned route. This is the foundation from which the numerous meanings of this word took the start and adjusted in many other spheres.

 

In terms of user experience design, the concept of navigation is one of the basic notions setting the usability. Navigation, in this case, could be generally defined as the set of actions and techniques guiding users throughout the app or website, enabling them to fulfill their goals and successfully interact with the product. The aspect of efficient navigation has a great impact on setting positive user experience: users start using apps or websites with particular aims and expectations, and that’s designers’ task to set the best and easiest route to solving users’ problems.

 

The aspect of helpful and seamless navigation in UI should be thought-out from the early stages of creating the user interface. Users are navigated via interface with a number of interactive elements such buttons, switches, links, tabs, bars, menus, fields and the like, some of which will be described more in details below.

 

Here in Tubik we support the workflow in which all the basic navigation issues, such as layout, transitions, elements placement and functionality, are set in the early phase of UX wireframing and then checked with simple prototype to make sure all the important operations and options are clear for users. Neglecting this essential aspect sets high risks that all the other effort on design can be just wasted, so it’s much more user- and client-friendly to start with the basics.

 

Tubik Studio UI sketches

 

Menu

 

Menu is one of the core navigation elements. It is a graphical control that presents the options of interactions with the interface. Basically, it can be the list of commands — in this case, options will be presented with verbs marking possible actions like, for example, «save», «delete», «buy», «send» etc. Menu can also present the categories along which the content is organized in the given interface, and this can be the high time for using nouns marking them.

 

Menus can have different locations in the interface (side menus, header menus, footer menus etc.) and different ways of appearance and interaction (drop-down menus, drop-up menus, sliding menus etc.) Any solution, which designer makes about menu functionality, appearance and placement in general layout, should be based on thoughtful user research, analyzing not only potential wishes and expectations of the target audience but also their tech literacy and possible environments in which the digital product could be used. Well-designed menu can significantly speed up the process of achieving goals and satisfying needs that lay the solid foundation for positive user experience.

 

tubikstudio ui app design

 

Here is the example of mobile blogging app interface which features left-side menu presenting the categories of content. The copy describing positions in the menu is supported with icons presenting recognizable visual mark for the category.

 

mobile app design tubik studio

 

The presented app UI concept shows the type menu applying the effective technique of color marking: when users move to a particular category, the specific background color is used for all the content in it, which forms strong associations and quick perception of the nature and theme of data the user sees.

 

CTA

 

Behind the widely used abbreviation CTA, designers and content creators mean call to action. This is actually the word of phrase which stimulates users to interact with a product in a way and for the aim it is designed for. CTA elements are the interactive controls which enable users to do the action they are called to. Typical types of such interactive elements in the layout are buttons, tabs, or links.

 

In the interfaces of all kinds, CTA elements are the core factor of effective interaction with the product, which plays the crucial role in usability and navigability. When all the path of interaction and transitions is built clearly for users but CTA element is not thought-out, placed or designed well, users can get confused and will need to take additional effort trying to achieve their goals. That sets the high risk for poor conversion rate and general user experience. That’s why this navigation element should draw particularly deep designers attention. In any interface, it should be one of the most prominent and quickly noticeable parts to inform users how the product can be helpful or useful for them.

 

Contact List Concept Scrolls Tubik

 

As we mentioned in the article with tips on copy content in UI, some call-to-action elements may be represented with icons that don’t require copy using widely and instantly recognized images such as a telephone receiver for making a phone call or the envelope for opening received mail. The app interface presented above shows this case: the button with a receiver is the most prominent interactive element on the screen navigating user to achieving their goals with app quickly, and it doesn’t need the copy to let users understand what action can be done with it.

 

However, when the image of an icon is not so obvious or can be misleading, it is more effective to use double scheme, when the icon, button, or link is supported with the copy.

 

landing page UI design tubik studio

 

The example above features the landing page for a web platform devoted to cooking seafood. The headline of the page presents a call to action and immediately sets the theme by both verbal and visual means. Still, this call to action is not interactive. The active CTA elements are clickable buttons informing users that after clicking they can see more information on the particular topic or recipe. The bright color enhances visual hierarchy on the page and draws users’ attention to the key interactive zone.

 

Bar

 

Bar is a section of the user interface with clickable elements enabling a user to quickly take some core steps of interaction with the product or it can also inform the user on the current stage of the process. Among the basic types of bars, we could mention:

Tab bar — in mobile applications, it appears at the bottom of an app screen and provides the ability to quickly switch between different sections of an app.

 

tubik studio tapbar ui

 

Loading bar — the control informing user on the current stage of action, when the process is in active stage and user can see the flow via timing or percentage shown in progress.

 

tubik studio motion design

 

Progress bar — provides feedback on a result of the current process so far, for example, showing how much of the planned activity has been done.

 

juicy player UI Tubik Studio

 

Button

 

Button is, perhaps, one of the most popular elements of any interface. Button is the element which enables a user to get the appropriate interactive feedback from the system within a particular command. Generally speaking, button is a control with which user directly communicates to the digital product and sends the necessary commands to achieve a particular goal, like, let’s say, send the email, buy a product, download the data, turn on the player and tons of other possible actions. One of the reasons why buttons are so popular and user-friendly is that they efficiently imitate interaction with the objects in physical world.

 

Modern UI buttons demonstrate high diversity and can serve plenty of purposes. Typical and frequently used buttons which present an interactive zone, usually clearly marked out for visibility and having a particular geometric shape and often supported with the copy explaining what action will be fulfilled via this button. Designers usually apply considerable time and effort for creating effective and noticeable buttons that are harmonically added into general stylistic concept but are contrast enough to stand out in the layout.

 

tubik studio page 404

 

Besides, we could also mention several types of buttons with additional functionality, widely used in mobile and web interfaces.

 

Hamburger button — the button hiding the menu: clicking or tapping it, user sees the menu expanding. It is called so as its form consisting of three horizontal lines looks like typical bread-meat-bread hamburger. Nowadays it is a typical element of interaction, still highly debatable due to the number of pros and cons.

 

Most users who visit and use websites on the regular basis know that this button hides the core categories of data so this trick does not need additional explanations and prompts. Hamburger menus free the space making the interface more minimalist and full of air as well as allow massive saving place for other important layout elements. This design technique also provides additional benefits for responsive and adaptive design hiding navigation elements and making the interface look harmonic on different devices. Although hamburger menus still belong to highly debatable issues of modern web and app design, they are widely used. The arguments against hamburger menu are based on the fact that this design element can be confusing for people who do not use websites regularly and can get misled with the sign which features a high level of abstraction. So, the decision about applying hamburger button should be made after user research and definition of target audience’s abilities and needs.

 

tubik studio ice ui website

The presented website concepts uses hamburger button to hide the menu and support general minimalist approach to the visual performance of the layout.

 

Plus button — the button that being clicked or tapped presents the ability to add new content, be it a new contact, post, note, position in the list — anything user could do as the basic action with the digital product. Sometimes, tapping this button, users are directly transferred to the modal window of creating content, in other cases there is also a medium stage when they are given additional option to choose from and make adding the particular piece of data more focused.

 

tubik studio button ui

 

Here is the concept showing that plus button first enables a user to choose the category of the added content (image, video, text) and only then directs to the particular screen where it can be done. This practice takes seconds still makes experience more user-friendly as designers can present users with modified options of adding content for every particular case.

 

Share button — the button enabling a user to share the content or achievement directly to social networking accounts. In vast majority of cases, it is presented with icons which present a brand sign of particular social networks and are easily recognizable.

 

Switch

 

Switch is a control that enables users to switch the option on or off. Again, it is applied with the high level of efficiency and popularity in the modern interfaces because it presents the direct imitation of switches people are accustomed to in real life. The important point of consideration here is that states of the switch should be visibly clear and distinctive so that user could avoid applying effort to understand if the option is active or not. Various sorts of contrast and slight animation can solve the problem making the experience simple and user-friendly.

toonie switch UI animation

Here is the switch turning on and off the alarm in Toonie app. Animation makes the interaction smooth and natural, while changed color of the tab and the toggle transforming into spinning sun let users instantly understand whether the alarm is active. If you want to see the full case study on how this animated element was designed and developed, welcome to check the details here.

 

Picker

 

As it becomes clear from its name, picker allows users to pick the point from the row of options. It usually includes one or several scrollable lists of distinct values, for example, hours, minutes, dates, measurements, currencies etc. Scrolling the list, users choose and set the needed value. This type of interactive element is widely used in the interfaces which have the functionality of setting time and dates.

 

toonie UI animation

 

Checkbox

 

Checkbox is graphical UI element which is used to mark a particular piece of content, usually setting the choice for the binary options. It is another element setting the bridge with the real world as it looks really similar to the process of filling in tests, questionnaires and other stuff of this kind when you put a tick or color the box to mark the option. Checkboxes and switches can be found in any type of user interfaces, especially in the sections of the user, screen or page settings. Also, checkboxes present a common part of navigation in apps and websites with functionality of task managers, to-do lists, time trackers and the like.

 

todo list UI app tubik studio

 

Here’s the example of design concept for the mobile to-do app for complex tasks. Tapping the checkbox, users marks the task as done and it automatically gets faded, the copy is colored differently and the font gets bolder to support the contrast of this task with the ones which are still in progress.

 


 

Today’s set of our glossary is ready for those who need it and we are going to continue this practice before long. Don’t miss the new sets — the next one will continue the issues of navigation with deeper insights into types of menus and buttons, tags, breadcrumbs and icons. If there are any specific terms you would like to see explained, described and illustrated, feel free to contact via direct message in our Facebook page or Twitter as well as our Quora representative. New definitions are coming soon!

 

Recommended reading

 

Here is the set of recommended materials for further reading for those who would like to get deeper into this topic and learn more on the theme.

 

iOS Human Interface Guidelines

 

Navigation patterns for ten common types of websites

 

3 essential rules for effective navigation design

 

Perfecting navigation for the mobile web

 

Understanding Web UI Elements & Principles

 

User Interface Elements

 

The Most Creative Mobile Navigation Patterns

 

Basic Patterns for Mobile Navigation


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Welcome to read us on Quora

wedding planner app UI design

Case Study: Wedding Planner. UI Design Concept.

Perhaps, everyone, who once tried to organize any public event, knows that this sort of job is no joke. Remember Mary Fiore, the main character of the well-known romantic comedy «The Wedding Planner»? She had to plan a great deal of things and organize a crowd of people to make everything work like a clock and result in a perfect wedding. No wonder, people pay so much attention to this sacramental day: it marks one of the most important life decisions and events. Still, organization of this event is surely a big pain, especially for those who don’t know what to expect and how many aspects should be considered.

 

Obviously, technology taking over at least a part of effort could be the great help. After organizing her own wedding and moving through all the path, Tubik designer Olga Popova decided to think over the interface solutions for the Wedding Planner app, a virtual assistant for those who would like to have the perfectly organized wedding. Having felt all the problems and wishes of the target audience for this sort of a digital product, she didn’t want to waste the experience and transformed it into a simple and functional UI concept. 

 

tubik studio UI designer

 

Task

 

UI/UX design for a simple and multifunctional wedding planner and task manager.

 

Process

 

Organizing such a big and important event as wedding, the participants of the process know that they should be ruled by cold and focused mind instead of romantic flare and butterflies in the stomach. Forgetting little details or planning the time wrongly can spoil all the celebration. That is the core idea behind the app user interface: it’s main aim is enabling users to plan the tasks and mark them easily and quickly. Moreover, the designer had to consider that the app could be used by people of different age, physical abilities and tech literacy, so the functionality and operability had to be based on simple and clear solutions.

 

wedding planner app UI design

 

As the content of the app is mostly presented with short copy blocks and readability is the core factor, light background was chosen as a basis. Colored sections also were accomplished in a color palette using tender pastel  colors and hues as well as applying gradients. This choice of color combinations set the appropriate mood of the general wedding theme usually associated with delicacy, softness and sophistication. Moreover, such a general palette enabled designer to add prominent and easily visible contrast for call-to-action elements: this is particularly important as the approach supporting fast visual perception of the core elements for the apps which are often used on-the-go.

 

The aspect of readability also determined the choice of clear and simple font instead of highly decorated and complex fonts that present a huge seduction for adding more romance. Still, looking proper and stylish on wedding cards or invitations, it could serve a dirty trick with the users of the app: the screens would perhaps look stylish and romantic, but copy blocks would transform into unreadable mess which is intolerable for a task manager. This was the case when simplicity had the edge over sophistication and decoration.

 

Let’s check out the basic screens of the app. Here you see the main screen of the task manager. It presents the tasks and plans organized by days in chronological order. Having finished the task users can mark them as complete by tick or put a negative mark if the task wasn’t accomplished. If the date already passed, the app marks the undone tasks by itself so that the user could easily see them scrolling the list. In the top right corner of the screen, users can see the easily recognized button that allows adding a new task to the list.

 

wedding planner app UI design

 

As you can see, time and date are not the only marker to organize the tasks along. Another important feature that makes this app different from general to-do lists and sets its link to the specific nature of planning weddings is the set of categories to classify the tasks and plans. Tapping the plus-button to add a new position, the user is offered to choose the category to which it sticks. Every category is marked with an icon, so reviewing the main screen with the list of tasks, a user can quickly scan what aspects they have to deal with that day, be it meeting a photographer, ordering flowers, making a menu etc. This approach enhances usability and sets the basis for positive user experience.

 

wedding planner app UI design

 

Setting the new task, users can add all the necessary details: locations, telephone numbers, special notes and simple memos. Then, reviewing the tasks, they can tap the icons and see the chronological schedule of all the positions planned for this particular category.

 

wedding planner app UI design

 

If the task includes involving responsible people, adding the contact, user gets the ability to call or text this contact right from the task position in the planner. It helps to speed up the experience making all the needed operation without the necessity to move to other apps or contact list of the mobile phone.

 

wedding planner app UI design

 

Therefore, this clear and simple app can be a real cure and reliable helping hand for wedding organizers. It’s usability is based on the non-distracting color palette, readable copy blocks, quick classification of the tasks and instant access to contacting people responsible for their accomplishment.

 
wedding planner app UI design
 

Don’t miss new case studies on UI/UX design, development, animation and branding here in Tubik Blog: lots of projects and processes are prepared to be unveiled for our readers very soon.


Welcome to see the designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance