Tag Archives: interface

gamification in UX design

Gamification Mechanics in UX: Smart User Journey.

From the very childhood people start playing games and they never really stop. Game spirit follows us in every sphere of our life revealing its facets such as challenges, achievements, or rewards from time to time. Trying to transfer game features into everyday life is a habit helping people to deal with complicated situations. Such a tendency could possibly cause the appearance of the gamification concept.

 

The word “gamification” stands for the technique of exerting game mechanics into the non-game environment. Designers often use gamification to create effective digital products and secure high level of user engagement. In one of our previous articles, we’ve mentioned common game mechanics such as challenges, points, badges, leaderboards, and journey. Each gamification element serves for certain goals and has a different influence on users. Today’s article is devoted to one of the most commonly used game mechanics called user journey. We’ll define its essence and find out how it works for UX improvements.

 

badges illustration tubik studio

PukaPal Badges

 

What’s user journey?

 

To make pleasing UX design, it’s vital to think out all the stages of user interactions. The thing is that one person may use a product for accomplishing different goals each day, even more, they apprehend the product differently every time. Designers and researchers noticed that experience and user interactions gradually evolve as people gain more skills in using the product. Such characteristics make it similar to a journey which players go through in games.

 

Considering this fact, designers come up with the idea of applying a game mechanic called user (player) journey in digital products. User journey can be defined as user’s progression stages over the time of product usage. Designers create UX that way so that people could go step-by-step through the various features and interactions which gradually change depending on users needs.

 

mobile app design tubik studio

Moneywise App

 

Let’s look at the example. A standard video game always has different levels from the easiest to the most complicated one. This way a player can adapt and easily comprehend how the game works on the easy levels and then constantly learn and make a progress. By the end of the game, a player is usually a skilled competitor who can deal with more complex tasks. If people receive difficult tasks at the beginning, they aren’t able to handle them. Or in case a game only consists of easy challenges, players will soon be bored.

 

The same works with digital goods. A product which has a simple system of interactions often attracts users with its convenience. However, if people use it for a long time and there are no changes at all, they may get bored. In case a product has an enormous amount of features at the start, they may just get lost within it. To avoid such problems, designers need to think of UX as a user journey, guiding them step-by-step to the point of achievement.

 

Stages of a user journey

 

User journey is a game mechanic which aims at making the process of interaction with a product easier and more understandable. A user feels as a real player starting the personal journey of the product usage. Designers plan different stages which a player (user) will gradually go through. Let’s look at the common steps which a user journey includes.

 

Onboarding stage

 

People who only start their journey within a product need to be actually onboarded. It means that users should be offered an introduction to the features so that they wouldn’t be afraid to make a mistake. Also, it is good to present a navigation system if it has some peculiarities.

 

Designers use onboarding tutorials in various digital products. Tutorials appear to users who launch an app or a web product for the first time helping them get oriented within unfamiliar features and controls. One more task designers need to accomplish at the stage of onboarding is user motivation. The product should be presented that way so that people had a motivation to use it more than once. That’s why onboarding tutorials need to contain short but clear info describing the possibilities of a product helping users to understand if a product can be useful for them.

 

tubik_toonie_help_screens_interaction

Toonie Alarm

 

Scaffolding stage

 

When users continue their journey, they go to the next stage of interactions called scaffolding. The step includes disclosing features progressively as the users become more experienced in using the product. Unlike the onboarding stage, users don’t get long instruction. Scaffolding is more like practical part. Users are trained to use a product proficiently, and the more they learn, the more tools (features) they receive. This stage allows users gradually learn more about a product and receive more features as far as they need to use them. Users don’t get a great number of features at once, so the interactions system won’t seem too overloaded or complicated.

 

toonie alarm UI design

Toonie Alarm

 

Progress stage

 

No matter what tasks people do, they always want to know about their progress. Providing the feedback on the results of a user journey, we can inspire them to continue. It’s a core step since people lose the enthusiasm of a beginner pretty soon and they need to be motivated to stay.

 

Some may ask what progress can be in non-game digital products? For example, a social app can notify users when they gained a certain number of new followers or friends. Meanwhile, educational applications can inform users on how much they’ve learned from time to time. All small details matter. Just tell people they achieved something and they get a dose of enthusiasm to continue.

 

blog app design tubik studio

Blog App

 

Endgame stage

 

Designers usually stop at the stage of scaffolding and progress uniting them in the endless loop, where users constantly learn and receive feedback. However, sooner or later people get bored of such patterns and may quit the product. Here is why the endpoint of a journey is also important to be thought out.

 

Endgame stage doesn’t mean that users will receive the message “Thank you for being with us! Bye-bye.” At this stage, proficient users are recognized as experts or veterans and they are usually given some privileges for loyalty. People like to be valued and they often give it right back. It’s not a secret that loyal customers are the best marketing managers for a product. New users willingly follow satisfied users’ testimonials.

 

Why a user journey?

 

User journey is a complex game mechanic which requires deep attention to details. Each stage should be carefully planned and connected to the others. Moreover, it requires long-term plans for future updates, so the process of user journey development may take a long time. Of course, some may ask if it is worth the effort to bring it into a product. Let’s see what user journey can give you back.

 

Clear interaction system. Users receive features gradually at the stage of scaffolding and users learn to utilize a product step-by-step. An approach helps to avoid problems with incomprehensible interactions and functions.

 

Increased user engagement. One of gamification principles is to make users always motivated and involved in “game”. User journey is usually full of different tasks and achievements which people can gain, so users can’t resist game spirit.

 

Customer loyalty. If a product is constantly improved for its users, people really appreciate it. Moreover, if a product has some privileges for loyal customers, people trust it more.

 

Product recognizability. As we said above, satisfied customers are effective marketers for a product. Users willingly share their pleasant experience and it won’t stay unnoticed.

 

The element of fun. As any other game element, user journey is a good way to bring an emotional aspect to a product. People always need some kind of recreational activity so that they could escape from everyday routine for a bit. By adding the fun element into a casual product, you help people reduce some stress and relax for a moment.

 

Animated stickers mood messenger design tubik

Animated stickers for Mood Messenger

 

All in all, we can say that user journey is an effective method for UX improvement. However, a designer and a client should consider the fact that gamification works well not for every product. It depends on a type of an interface, its target audience, and business goals. For more detailed information, check our previous article where we’ve defined the tasks which gamification helps to accomplish and don’t miss the updates on gamification in UI coming soon.

Recommended reading

 

Gamification by Interaction Design Foundation

42 Rules for Engaging Members Through Gamification: Unlock the Secrets of Motivation, Community, and Fun

Gamification in UX. Increasing User Engagement.

Gamification: Designing for Motivation


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

upper app UI design case study

Lean and Mean: Power of Minimalism in UI Design.

Simple doesn’t mean primitive. Less isn’t vague. Short doesn’t say little. Air doesn’t equal emptiness. Today we are talking about minimalism.

 

In the book «The More of Less», Joshua Becker said: «You don’t need more space. You need less stuff.» Minimalism is often discussed nowadays in different spheres of life and work, and diverse directions of design are not the exception. Let’s see what are its benefits and points to consider.

 

web design tubik studio

 

What is minimalism?

 

Actually, minimalism is a word of broad meaning used in various spheres of human activity. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as «a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity». Being applied to more and more fields, it saves its core traits: meaningful and simple.

 

Minimalism as a direction of visual design got especially popular in the 1960s in New York when new and older artists moved toward geometric abstraction in painting and sculpture. The movement found its impression in the artworks associated with Bauhaus, De Stijl, Constructivism and so on. In diverse spheres of visual arts, key principle of minimalism was leaving only essential part of features to focus the recipient’s attention as well as support general elegance. Lines, shapes, dots, colors, spare space, composition — everything should serve its function being thoughtfully organized. Today we can meet minimalism in a variety of life spheres: architecture, arts, photography, all kinds of design, literature, music and even food presentation.

 

«A shape, a volume, a color, a surface is something itself. It shouldn’t be concealed as part of a fairly different whole. The shapes and materials shouldn’t be altered by their context», said Donald Judd, an American artist associated with minimalism. Working in this style, designers seek to make the interfaces simple but not empty, stylish but not overloaded. They tend to use negative space, bold color and font combinations, and multifunctional details making the simplicity elegant. The line dividing simple and primitive is very thin. That is why not all the designers take the risk of trying this direction: some may think it looks too decent, the others don’t find enough ways to show much with fewer elements.

 

Tubik studio UI design

Architecture Blog

 

Characteristics of minimalism

 

Main features of minimalism often mentioned by designers include:

  • Simplicity
  • Clarity
  • Expressive visual hierarchy
  • High attention to proportions and composition
  • Functionality of every element
  • Big amount of spare space
  • High attention ratio to core details
  • Typography as a significant design element
  • Eliminating non-functional decorative elements

 

Surely, the list can be continued but even the given positions show that minimalism in UI sounds like user-friendly trend. Applied wisely, it helps users to see the core elements of the interface and makes user journey intuitive and purposeful. Moreover, minimalist interfaces usually look sophisticated and uncluttered bringing aesthetic satisfaction as one of the factors of desirability in UX.

 

dance academy landing page

Dance Academy landing page

 

Practices of minimalism in digital design

 

Today minimalism is one of the wide-spread trends in the design of websites and mobile applications. Main points to consider can be described with the following practices.

 

Flat design

 

As we mentioned in one of our previous articles, flat design became a great supporter of minimalism in modern digital products. The most prominent feature of this direction is applying flat 2-dimensional visual details as the opposite to highly realistic and detailed skeuomorphic images. Flat images usually use fewer elements and curves, avoid highlights, shadows, gradients, or textures. This approach allows creating images, buttons, icons and illustrations which look neat in different resolutions and sizes. It lets designers enhance usability and visual harmony of user interfaces.

 

However, the terms «flat» and «minimalist» shouldn’t replace each other which often happens today. They are not the same. «Flat» deals with the style of icons, illustration, buttons and other visual elements of the interface in the aspect of gradients, textures, shadows etc. «Minimalist» has much broader meaning and deals with the layout in general, its composition, color palette, contrast and all the techniques of visual performance applied to it. So, flat can be described as one of the design techniques applied in the minimalist approach to creating interfaces.

 

ui animation cafe app tubikstudio

Cafe Coupon App

 

Monochrome or limited color palette

 

Color is a feature of a great potential in design of interfaces as it can set both informative and emotional links between the product and the user. Designers working in minimalism tend to take the maximum from color choices, and in most cases, they limit color palette to monochrome or minimal set of colors. This strengthens the chosen colors and doesn’t distract users with too much variety. Such an approach is efficient in interfaces concentrating users’ attention on particular actions like buying, subscribing, donating, starting to use etc. Moreover, in the psychological perspective, the colors usually transfer particular associations and emotions perceived by users, so limited palette makes chosen colors stronger in this aspect.

 

tubik studio web UI design

Slopes Website

 

Bold and expressive typography

 

Typography in minimalistic design is seen as one of the core visual elements of not only informing users about the content but also setting the style and enhancing visual performance. Choosing the way of concise use for graphics, designers usually pay much attention to the choice of typography and never hurry in testing the pairs, sizes and combinations. As well as color, fonts and typefaces are seen as a strong graphic element contributing into general elegance and the emotional message it sends. On the other hand, readability and legibility do not lose their leading positions in the matter of choice.

 

upper app UI design case study

Upper App

 

Choice limitation

 

One of the strong sides of minimalism in interfaces is enhanced user concentration. Being focused on functionality and simplicity, the pages and screens of this kind don’t usually overload users attention with decorative elements, shades, colors, details, motion, so in this way, they support high attention ratio and often let users quickly solve their problems and navigate through the website or app.

 

tubik studio web ui design

Birds of Paradise Encyclopedia

 

Prominent theme visual elements

 

Working on minimalist UI, designers do not apply many images, but those which are chosen to be used are really prominent, catchy and informative. This approach results in the long and thorough search of the «right» image which would cover all those functions and set the required mood instantly. The photo or illustration itself has to follow the principles of minimalism, otherwise, the choice of the wrong image can ruin all the layout integrity.

 

website design UI

Architecture Firm

 

Concise and intuitive navigation

 

Navigation in minimalist interfaces presents another challenge: designers have to prioritize the elements rigorously in order to show only the elements of the highest importance. There are different techniques to hide the part of navigation, but doing this, it’s vital to ensure that users will find what they need easily. That is one of the reasons why minimalist approach can be criticized: not being presented properly and tested enough, solutions like hamburger menus and hidden layout elements can leave some users lost in the journey around the website. Obviously, it is not the good ground for positive user experience, therefore every solution about navigation should follow the philosophy «measure thrice and cut once».

 

Adding air and using negative space

 

White space (also called negative) in digital design is the term which is more about space rather than color. In minimalism, it is one more effective way of adding elegance and marking out the core elements. Also, in terms of monochromatic or limited color palette, white or negative space plays the big role in creating enough contrast and supporting legibility.

 

tubik studio ice ui website

Ice Website

 

Grids

 

Grid system in minimalist interfaces can be effective for making the layout look highly-organized, especially if the website presents a lot of homogenous content. Another benefit is that grids are responsive-friendly.

 

web design UI concept tubik studio

The Big Landscape

 

Contrast

 

Following the philosophy of limits and simplicity, minimalism depends much on contrast as a tool of good visual performance. The choice of colors, shapes and placement are often based on the contrast as the key feature.

 

tubikstudio ui animation website design

Bjorn Website

 

Well, it’s easy to see that minimalism has a great number of benefits and presents a good approach in creating user-friendly interfaces. However, it doesn’t mean that minimalism should be applied everywhere: every goal should be achieved by the proper means. One thing is for sure: the more minimalistic is the interface, the more time and effort the designer should invest to make it clear and functional. Elegance and beauty of minimalism should support the global aim of providing positive user experience.

 

Recommended reading

 

The Characteristics of Minimalism in Web Design

 

The How and Why of Minimalism

 

6 Steps to Perfecting Minimalism in Web Design

 

Functional Minimalism for Web Design


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

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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toonie alarm UI design

Case Study: Toonie. UI Animation Development.

In most cases, when users deal with animation in the interface, it takes short seconds and feels as natural as a breath. Being far from design and development routine, it’s almost impossible to imagine that these brief and simple interactions take long hours of thorough work presenting mix of science and art. 

 

In our previous articles we had numerous chances to show you diverse UI animations solving users’ problems and enhancing usability, still they were mostly presented in design perspective. Today’s  case study will set the link between design and development for iOS mobile applications: it will show you collaboration of UI designers, motion designers and iOS developers working over animation for Toonie Alarm. Previous case studies already let you see the creative process for user interface and mascot design, but this time you will come along step-by-step guide on how animation was created for the app. 

 

Time Picker animation

 

Time picker in the alarm application is actually the core part of interaction with the app and the primary element at which motion design and development play the vital role for establishing both usability and visual harmony. Let’s see how science, calculations and code are able to transform into beauty and style.

 

toonie alarm UI animation

 

All the content of animation is placed on custom subclass UIView, for this case we call it AnimatedDayView.

 

layers_scheme toonie-ui-animation

 

The bottom layer is Infinite UIScrollView (1 on the scheme above). It is the endless scroll view that includes the copies of the image below.

 

toonie scroll animation

 

There are numerous ways of realization for endless scroll. The main idea of replacement in scroll view is to recalculate the size of the scroll view and replace the invisible previous image showing the new one and adding the one for the future.

 

In the case of animated time picker for Toonie, we took the starting point as 6 AM, therefore the middle point is 6 PM and the ending point is 6 AM of the next day.

 

The next layer is Stars UIImageView (2). This UIImageView is added over the scroll view and goes round its centre; during this process the Alpha of the layer is changed. It means that in the daytime it is transparent while in the evening time it gradually appears.

 

stars_ui-view_scroll_animation

 

The next layer is CALayer for the sun and the moon— SunMoonBackgroundLayer. It isn’t seen on the scheme as it has the same size as AnimatedDayView. It also rotates around its centre which is below the visible frame of the screen (5).

 

On the SunMoonBackgroundLayer, there are two more layers — for the moon (3) and the sun (4). The layer of the moon rotates to the same angle as SunMoonBackgroundLayer but in the opposite direction. The sun rotates to the higher number of radians.

 

The issue of great importance here was to thoroughly calculate at which number of degrees should each layer be rotated and how far should the scroll go on. The scroll presents the easiest part. The input variable is always time, that is the hour and minutes which user chose on UIDatePicker. With this data, it’s quite simple to calculate the scroll view shifting. Initially it will be zero, which in our case is equal to the time of 6 AM as we set above. Imagine that user has picked the time 9.10 AM. We can understand which number of pixel the view has to shift down or up when we calculate the difference of the time in minutes (190 minutes) and transforming them into pixels. All the scroll ground presents 24 hours, so its height presents 24 hours, therefore 1 minute=image_height/minutes_per_day (60*24). Knowing the value of 1 minute, it’s not difficult to calculate how many pixels are set into 190 minutes. The only thing left to do is to move the scroll on the required number of pixels, which can be also negative in cases when the new time is less than the previous setting.

 

The next important parameter is Alpha of the stars. It can be calculated with understanding at which particular place on the background image we are at the current position. It means that at 6 AM in the top part of the image the stars should have Alpha 0 value because the morning starts. And the stars are ignored, aka kept in Alpha 0, up to 6 PM, and then Alpha value should be gradually increasing so that at midnight Alpha reached 1. The calculation of dynamics and intensity here can be different depending on desired visual effect. The core thing is that we have the basic parameter which we can rely on: the current position on the background image. And it can be easily calculated knowing the time set by the user. With alteration of Alpha motion, attractive visual performance can be effectively reached.

 

To calculate the angle of rotation, we take 360 degrees for 24 hours. So, 0 degree = 6 AM. We calculate the difference in minutes, find the number of degrees per minute and set the degrees required for shifting.

 

Another element of animation is clouds. They appear due to NSTimer. It adds one of the graphic variants for clouds (the app uses three graphic versions) with random coordinate of Alpha (transparency) beyond the limits of the screen on the right side. After that animation of movement (changing the centre) starts from right to left. The timer is launched with the random interval.  After the animation is finished, the cloud is gone.

 

toonie alarm time picker

 

Sun switch

 

Another piece of animation that required attention and creativity was the switch on the Alarm Screen, the actual element of interaction showing that the alarm is set and active or not. Design solution supporting general visual performance of the app was to make the toggle look like the animated sun when alarm was in the active position.

 

toonie switch UI animation

 

Looking over the accomplishment of the presented motion via code, we see that this is the UIView which contains several layers.

 

toonie-ui-switch_animation

 

The first layer is the background of the hole in the switch (1) which has a rectangular shape. Above it, there is the circle — the toggle of the switch (2) which is the centre of the sun. It can move leftwards or rightwards. Another layer is the sun rays (3). They are set as the separate layer because they have the endless animation of rotation.

 

When the switch is off, the rays change their Alpha to 0 and animation stops. Over all the mentioned layers, the largest layer is placed which is the background of the switch (4). This is also the rectangular layer which has a mask CAShapeLayer drawn with two UIBezierPaths.

 

 

The mask cuts off the layer of the required shape and switch gets a look of the final view. For interactive controlling, two Gesture Recognizers are added: UITapGestureRecognizer for pushing and UIPanGestureRecognized for pulling the toggle.

 

This practical case shows that making animation which will realize its problem-solving potential looking attractive and natural is a demanding task requiring thoughtful approach and collaboration of designers and developers for users’ sake. If you want to test everything described above in real interaction, just set Toonie and see how it works. And don’t miss new cases telling more stories of creative process.


Welcome to set up Toonie Alarm via App Store

Welcome to read case studies about user interface design and mascot design for Toonie Alarm

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ios development glossary

IOS Glossary: Architecture, Patterns, Xcode.

As soon as you know the basics, you set the foundation for growth. It works the same way for any job and there is no any secret that many significant innovations are still grounded on diverse knowledge boosting potential and force of creativity. So, today let’s do our homework on the basics and add one more article to the set of the professional glossary. Earlier we have already published the Glossary posts with key terms for the topics of UI/UX design and web design as well as business terms and abbreviations. This time the perspective will get changed a bit, featuring the first set of terms in the theme of iOS development. Let’s get started briefly reviewing the basic notions common for the sphere of iOS development.

 

iOS

 

Basically, widely known iOS is the well-established abbreviation taking its roots from the phrase «iPhone Operating System» which was created originally for the system of mobile devices produced by Apple such as iPhone, iPad and iPodTouch and now also AppleTV. 

 

User interfaces created for iOS are made on the basis of direct manipulation involving multi-touch gestures. Interface control elements present a variety of functions and forms including buttons, sliders, and switches. Gestures taking place in the process of interaction with such type of interface are also various, for instance, swipe, tap, pinch, and reverse pinch; what is more, they all have specific definitions in the context of the iOS operating system. Some iOS applications even use internal accelerometers which can react to the cases of shaking or rotating the device in three dimensions. Another typical feature is portrait and landscape mode switching.

 

From the standpoint of development, Apple gives steady preference to simple and durable things, and this concept is applied to their products, applications, tools and frameworks. It is expected that when an iOS developer builds an app for iPhone, it will run on any other device with the iOS. This aspect of iOS development can save a large amount of time for programmers as writing code, let’s say, for iPhone, the developer uses the same programming language for all Apple’s computing devices. Said otherwise, an application created for iPhone can later be even integrated into Mac.

 

In both UI/UX design and development for iOS, specialists making screens and writing code, apply their flight of creativity in terms of definite rules and guidelines to keep. The apps which don’t keep those guidelines risk failing to submit their app to Apple ecosystem of devices. Working on the digital products intended to be used in iOS, professionals need to know iOS Human Interface Guidelines and always keep and eye on updates and fresh recommendations. The set of guidelines for designers states: «As an app designer, you have the opportunity to deliver an extraordinary product that rises to the top of the App Store charts. To do so, you’ll need to meet high expectations for quality and functionality». Actually, the same position works the same way for developers who are offered samples, guidelines and support to find the optimal solutions for user-friendly and effective digital products.

 

ios-developers-tubik-studio

 

 

iOS architecture

 

As it was mentioned before, iOS allows users to interact with their devices and products using gestures such as swiping, tapping and pinching. These finger actions are typically performed on touch screen displays, which provide fast response and accept inputs from multiple fingers.

 

The iOS architecture can be pictured as four abstraction layers that define it:

 

Cocoa Touch. The layer containing a variety of frameworks which define the appearance of the app. It also provides the basic app infrastructure and support for main technologies such as multitasking, touch-based input, push-notifications, and many high-level system services.
Media. The layer with graphics, audio, and video technologies which developers use to implement multimedia experiences in the apps. The technologies in this layer make enable building apps that look and sound excellent.

 

Core Services. The layer that consists of essential system services for apps. Main services are the Core Foundation and Foundation frameworks, which define the basic types that all apps use. It also contains individual technologies to support features such as location, iCloud, social media, networking, etc.

 

Core OS. The layer including services such as the security, local authentication and core Bluetooth frameworks.

 

Apple recommends developers to write code to the highest applicable layer whenever possible, and only use the lower-level frameworks for features not exposed at higher levels.

 

Architecture design patterns

 

In software development, architecture design pattern is the matter of structure. It is not a finished architecture that can be transformed directly into code. Patterns are similar to the case of reliable practices that the developer can use to solve common problems building an application or system.

 

In general terms, architecture pattern in the case of development could be described as a reusable solution that could be repetitively applied to the issues that frequently rise within a particular context of development and engineering interactions. This sort of patterns takes into account various limitations and restrictions including the problems of hardware performance, availability, the environment of use and even particular business goals.

 

Among main architecture design patterns we could mention:

  • MVC (Model–view–controller)
  • MVP (Model–view–presenter)
  • MVVM (Model–view–view-model)
  • VIPER (View-interactor-presenter-entity-routing)

 

First three types of architecture design patterns assume putting the entities of the app into one of 3 categories:
Models – give the controller/ presenter/ view-model the data to populate view.

Views – display content and are populated by the controller/ presenter/ view-model. Each screen of the app is a ‘view’ which includes buttons, text, menus, fields and etc.

Controllers/ Presenters/ View-models – control behavior of the app. Apps are based on event-driven programming, controllers/ presenters/ view-models receive, process and return events.

 

Tubik Studio iOS development

 

To see how it works in practice, let’s take MVC pattern and describe it a bit more in detail. The model-view-controller (MVC) is an architecture design pattern that breaks code down into three parts: user interfaces (views), data (model), and the software that communicates between the two (controller). The building blocks of apps are objects — arrays of code organized with MVC pattern. Each screen of the app is a view: the data model controls the content it displays, and the controller manages communication between the view and the model. The model-view-controller is just one of the architecture design patterns developers use while building the app, still it is popular in development.

 

Xcode

 

Xcode is Apple’s integrated development environment (IDE) and it is the main tool for building iOS apps. iOS developers can work applying either Objective-C or Swift, in fact, using only Xcode. This software only runs on Macs and there are no official ways to launch it on a Windows or Linux PC.

 

Xcode has tons of features for iOS development, among which:

 

Interface Builder. It allows designing and testing user interface without writing a code. Interface Builder helps to prototype and then connect the interface to the source within the Xcode editor.

Source Editor. It is a professional editor with code completion, code folding, syntax highlighting, and messages that display warnings, errors, and other context-sensitive information.

Continuous Integration. It is a feature of OS X Server controlling server-side bots that continuously build, analyze, test, and even archive Xcode projects.

XCTest Framework. It assists in building unit tests that check iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and Mac apps performance.

iOS Simulator. It allows prototyping and testing app during the development process. This testing tool simulates iOS, watchOS, and tvOS devices before testing the app on an actual device.

 

iOS programming languages

 

Two fundamental programming languages for iOS development are Objective-C and Swift. The benefits and drawbacks of each language were considered in our earlier post.

 

At the moment Objective-C is commonly described as the general-purpose, object-oriented programming language adding Smalltalk-style messaging to the C programming language. Before Swift came into play, Objective-C had been the main programming language used by developers for OS X and iOS operating systems, and their APIs. Swift, introduced at Apple’s 2014 WWDC, brought its own dose of revolution. In general description, Swift is a general-purpose, multi-paradigm, compiled programming language broadening the previous scope of operating systems as it was developed for iOS, OS X, watchOS, tvOS, and Linux. Swift was designed to enable work with Apple’s Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks as well as the large body of Objective-C code already written for Apple products. 

 

Initially Swift was intended to be more resilient and safer than Objective-C, and also more concise and developer-friendly. It was built with the LLVM compiler framework including in Xcode 6 and using the Objective-C runtime library that enables C, Objective-C, C++ and Swift code to run within one program.  Therefore, it enhances broadening professional horizons for developers making their work more efficient. That was the milestone when developers started their discussion of what is better, tradition or innovation.

 

Since 2014, Swift language has been used by Xcode for coding more often than Objective-C. Objective-C is the initial programming language for building OS X and iOS software and in perspective of all the apps coded for iOS, it presents a superset of the C-programming language and provides object-oriented programming and dynamic runtime. Nowadays, Objective-C is a good fit for early iPhone and it is also effectively applicable for maintaining and updating the apps initially created in it. Swift in its turn is newer  and more flexible programming language for Apple devices that has the best features of C and Objective-C, without the constraints of C compatibility. It keeps step with modern hardware being faster in actual process of coding as well as shorter, more secure and easy-to-use. 

 

tubik ios development

 

Read more about the topic in our previous article 

 

Anyway, the choice of the programming language, framework, method, and tool for creating iOS apps should be based on the intention to provide the efficient product to both the client and the final user. 

 

This 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. 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!


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