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information architecture for designers

Information Architecture: Effective Techniques For Designers.

Content is a constituent that can make any digital product valuable. Informative copy and well-thought visual elements of UI design are able to create the foundation for the successful product. However, even good content may fail in case it is structured badly. One of our previous articles was devoted to the basic points of information architecture and today’s post continues the topic.

 

In a nutshell, information architecture (IA) is a science of structuring content of the websites, web and mobile applications, and social media software. IA study aims at organizing content so that users would easily adjust to the functionality of the product and could find everything they need without big effort. Nowadays, when the user-centered approach in design is a top trend, many designers learn the principles of information architecture science which are believed to be a foundation of the powerful design. There are many experts working on IA development now, so loads of various techniques appear. Our article presents four efficient IA methodologies commonly used in design.

 

tubikstudio teamwork

 

Content inventory

 

Before you start constructing a layout of the product, you need to understand what elements your project will consist of. One of the first stages of building information architecture is called content inventory. The technique considers creating a list of the components for the future design project. The inventory list usually includes various elements such as title, author/provider, meta elements (keywords, description, tags), copy, images, audio, video, and document files.

 

A content inventory list assists designers at the different stages of the workflow. First of all, the list helps identify the essential content components in so that designers could plan the product structure. Knowing all the constituents, designers can place them properly. Furthermore, it’s an easy way to discuss the structure peculiarities of the project with your clients. It is much faster and easier to edit the list rather than modify the design project when it’s been started. Finally, the list of components can help designers deeply comprehend the content that results in creating appropriate connections between elements so that the design of the product would look integral.

 

tubik studio wireframing UI UX

 

Wireframing

 

Information architecture is something like a blueprint of the layout which needs to be generated by a visual scheme. The majority of designers constantly use the well-known technique called wireframing helping to create a simplified and schematic visual representation of a layout for digital products. Wireframes are similar to architectural blueprints: they are usually black and white illustrations, sometimes with bright marks or spots to outline specific areas or points, that give a clear vision of the project structure and connections between different parts.

 

Wireframing is a fast and cheap technique to plan the information architecture of the page or screen. Designers use wireframes to outline visual and typographic hierarchy of user interfaces, set the interactive zones and elements, plan transitions and interactions, organize the general layout markedly for the target audience. Since a wireframe is focused on the structure, not the visual and emotional perception of the details, designers try to keep it simple. They mostly limit it to monochromatic color schemes, with boxes and lines representing copy, pictures and all the interactive elements on the page.

 

tubik studio design process ux

 

Wireframing gives numerous advantageous opportunities not only for designers but for the whole development team and clients too. First of all, a wireframe is the first visual representation of a designer’s abstract idea. This step ensures that the developers and the clients get the full understanding of the project’s design. Furthermore, developers can clearly see the placement of the elements on the page. Some software for creating wireframes allows seeing all the sizes and spacing by clicking a single button that saves time for both design and development teams.

 

Organization structures and schemes

 

In our article “Information Architecture. Basics for Designers” we’ve defined four essential components of IA: organization systems, labeling systems, navigation systems, and search systems. The organization systems are the groups or the categories in which the information is divided. It helps users to predict where they can find certain information easily. To categorize the design components effectively, designers apply the technique of division into specific structures and schemes.

 

There are three main types of content structures: Hierarchical, Sequential, and Matrix.

 

Hierarchical. In one of our previous articles, we’ve mentioned well-known technique of content organization called visual hierarchy. It is initially based on Gestalt psychological theory and its main goal is to present content on the carrier, be it a book page or poster, web page or mobile screen, in such a way that users can understand the level of importance for each element. It activates the ability of the brain to distinguish objects on the basis of their physical differences, such as size, color, contrast, alignment etc.

 

Big City Guide tubik

Big City Guide

 

Sequential. This structure creates some kind of a path for the users. They go step-by-step through content to accomplish the task they needed. This type is often used for the retail websites or apps where people have to go from one task to another to make the purchase.

 

jewellery ecommerce app UI

Jewellery E-Commerce App

 

Matrix. This type is a bit more complicated for the users since they choose the way of navigation on their own. Users are given choices of content organization. For example, they can navigate through content which is ordered according to date, or some may prefer navigation along the topic.

 

health care app interactions tubik studio

HealthCare App

 

Content can be divided according to the organization schemes which are meant to classify the design components into certain groups. Here are some of the popular schemes:

 

Alphabetical. Content is organized in alphabetical order. This scheme works best when users know exactly what they’re looking for and know how to describe or name the object of search, so it can serve as a navigation tool for the users.

 

Audience. The type of content organization for separate groups of users. As an example, there are many educational resources which divide the information according to the skill level of the learners.

 

Chronological. This type organizes content by date and time. It’s often used on the news websites, event apps, and blogs.

 

Topic. Content is organized according to the specific subject. For instance, online book shops divide the products according to genres.

 

bookshop website animation

Bookshop Website

 

Content organization models

 

Designers have been working on the development of the information architecture field for a long time and so far they have established some efficient models of the content structure. Knowing them, designers can choose appropriate information structure for a product. Let’s take a look at the most common models.

 

Single page model

 

When the digital product requires a minimum of the content, the single page model is a perfect choice. Websites for a single product and with focused purpose often apply this type of data structure. As an example, we can consider design for the website promoting the brand new application. Its purpose is to make users upload the app, so generally, it provides a limited amount of copy with the focus on the button “Available on App Store”.

 

Upper App Animation

Upper App

 

Flat model

 

This model works best for the small websites or landing pages. In the flat structure, all the pages are equal and they are put at the same level of navigation, so they are interchangeably accessible for the users. This type of information structure is good for the websites which have a limited amount of the content and it’s not going to grow anytime soon. It may be a good idea to apply the flat model to the design of a startup company.

 

landing page design tubik studio

 

Index model

 

The index structure is one of the most commonly used. All the pages are equally similar to the flat model but the navigation system differs. Index model allows users to access pages via the page list which is available on every page of the product. This way, index model may contain more content and remain usable and simple for users since they can skip useless pages.

 

Bakery website design case study tubik

Vinny’s Bakery Website

 

Strict hierarchy model

 

The model received its name, not by chance. It’s called “strict” because it gives users only one way to access the subpages: from the main page. This structure is a good choice for the digital products that have a specific purpose. For example, e-commerce websites use the structure so that the users wouldn’t skip the important information about their new offers. Also, educational platforms may apply the model in order to make the educational process gradual.

 

Co-existing hierarchy model

 

This kind of information structure is probably the most difficult to apply. It combines the ideas of a few models. Similar to index model, it provides users with various ways to access the content still it aims at guiding people through the certain path so that they would take expected actions. That’s why to create such a structure, designers need to have a bit of experience in this area. However, it may be worth trying.

web design UI concept tubik studio

 

The Big Landscape

 

Daisy model

 

This type of content structure is common for educational websites and apps as well as the others which require users complete certain tasks. The daisy structure is built that way so users return to a homepage (sometimes other specific points) after they accomplish the tasks. For instance, many to-do apps automatically return the users to the main screen when they point the task as complete.

 

upper app UI design case study

Upper App

 

Information architecture is vital for the powerful design but it needs to be done right. The various IA techniques we’ve discussed above can be combined and applied depending on the product and the clients’ requirements. Moreover, they are constantly improved since the design field never stays still, so many new methodologies may appear soon. Our next article will continue the topic of IA so stay tuned!

 

Recommended reading

 

A Practical Guide to Information Architecture by Donna Spencer

 

The ultimate guide to information architecture

 

How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody

 

Information Architecture: For the Web and Beyond

 

Information Architecture Basics


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information architecture for designers tubik

Information Architecture. Basics for Designers.

The World Wide Web contains a tremendous amount of information which is hard to imagine unstructured because a human brain wouldn’t be able to perceive any single thing. People got used to seeing content and functionality of the digital products as many of them are now: structured and easy to use. However, it doesn’t occur unintentionally. Designers and developers take a responsibility of constructing content and navigation system in the appropriate way for users perception. The science that assists experts in the content structuring is called information architecture. Today’s article is devoted to the essence of information architecture and presents the basic points every designer should know.

 

What’s information architecture?

 

Information architecture (IA) is a science of organizing and structuring content of the websites, web and mobile applications, and social media software. An American architect and graphic designer, Richard Saul Wurman, is considered to be a founder of the IA field. Today, there are many specialists working on IA development who have established the Information Architecture Institute. According to the IAI experts, information architecture is the practice of deciding how to arrange the parts of something to be understandable.

 

Information architecture aims at organizing content so that users would easily adjust to the functionality of the product and could find everything they need without big effort. The content structure depends on various factors. First of all, IA experts consider the specifics of the target audience needs because IA puts user satisfaction as a priority. Also, the structure depends on the type of the product and the offers companies have. For example, if we compare a retail website and a blog, we’ll see two absolutely different structures both efficient for accomplishing certain objectives. Information architecture has become the fundamental study in many spheres including design and software development.

 

UX design process tubik

 

The role of information architecture in design

 

Nowadays, when the user-centered approach in design is a top trend, many designers learn the principles of information architecture science which they believe is a foundation of efficient design. IA forms a skeleton of any design project. Visual elements, functionality, interaction, and navigation are built according to the information architecture principles. The thing is that even compelling content elements and powerful UI design can fail without appropriate IA. Unorganized content makes navigation difficult and inexplicit, so the users can easily get lost and feel annoyed. If the users face first bad interaction, they may not give the second chance to your product.

 

Many companies don’t see the importance of information architecture because they think it’s impractical. It’s hard to argue that IA takes some time to create it and requires specific skills to do it efficiently. However, powerful IA is a guarantee of the high-quality product since it reduces the possibility of the usability and navigation problems. This way, well-thought information architecture can save both time and money of the company which otherwise they would have spent on fixing and improvement.

 

IA and UX design

 

After reading everything written above, many people may have the question: “Isn’t IA the same as UX design?”. Technically, these terms relate to each other but they are far not the same. IA is a blueprint of the design structure which can be generated into wireframes and sitemaps of the project. UX designers use them as the basic materials so that they could plan navigation system.

 

UX design means much more than content structuring. In the first place, UX designers aim at making pleasant interaction model, so that users feel comfortable using the product. They encompass various aspects influencing users’ behavior and actions such as emotion and psychology when the IA experts stay focused on the user’s goals.

 

Let’s get this straight: good information architecture is a foundation of efficient user experience, so the IA skill is essential for the designers. Effective IA makes the product easy to use but only united with design thinking the product has the powerful user experience.

 

tubik studio design process ux

 

IA system components

 

If you want to build strong information architecture for the product, you need to understand what it consists of. Pioneers of the IA field, Lou Rosenfeld and Peter Morville in their book “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web” have distinguished four main components: organization systems, labeling systems, navigation systems and searching systems.

 

Organization systems

 

These are the groups or the categories in which the information is divided. Such system helps users to predict where they can find certain information easily. There are three main organizational structures: Hierarchical, Sequential, and Matrix.

 

Hierarchical. In one of our previous articles, we’ve mentioned a well-known technique of content organization which is called visual hierarchy. It is initially based on Gestalt psychological theory and its main goal is to present content on the carrier, be it a book page or poster, web page or mobile screen, in such a way that users can understand the level of importance for each element. It activates the ability of the brain to distinguish objects on the basis of their physical differences, such as size, color, contrast, alignment etc.

 

web ui design city guide

Big City Guide

 

Sequential. This structure creates some kind of a path for the users. They go step-by-step through content to accomplish the task they needed. This type is often used for the retail websites or apps, where people have to go from one task to another to make the purchase.

 

Bakery website design case study tubik

Vinny’s Bakery Website

 

Matrix. This type is a bit more complicated for the users since they choose the way of navigation on their own. Users are given choices of content organization. For example, they can navigate through content which is ordered according to date, or some may prefer navigation along the topic.

 

mobile app design tubik studio

MoneyWise App

 

In addition, content can be grouped according to the organization schemes. They are meant to categorize content the product. Here are some of the popular schemes:

 

Alphabetical schemes. Content is organized in alphabetical order. Also, they can serve as a navigation tool for the users.

 

Chronological schemes. This type organizes content by date.

 

Topic schemes. Content is organized according to the specific subject.

 

Audience schemes. The type of content organization for separate groups of users.

 

book swap app tubik studio

Book Swap App

 

Labeling systems

 

This system involves the ways of data representation. Design of the product requires simplicity, so a great amount of information can confuse users. That’s why designers create the labels which represent loads of data in few words. For example, when the designers give contact information of the company on the website, it usually includes the phone number, email, and social media contacts. However, designers can’t present all of this information on one page. The button “Contact” in the header of the page is a label that triggers the associations in the users’ heads without placing the whole data on the page. So, the labeling system aims at uniting the data effectively.

 

gym landing page concept by Tubik

 

Gym Landing Page

 

Navigation systems

 

In one of our UX Glossary articles, we’ve defined navigation 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 navigation system, in terms of IA, involves the ways how users move through content. It’s a complex system which employs many techniques and approaches, the reason why it’s wrong to describe it in a short paragraph. So, we’ll go back to the topic a bit later on our new blog’s article.

 

Searching systems

 

This system is used in information architecture to help users search for the data within the digital product like a website or an app. The searching system is effective only for the products with loads of information when the users risk getting lost there. In this case, the designers should consider a search engine, filters, and many other tools helping users find content and plan how the data will look after the search.

 

tubikstudio-ui-ux-design

 

To sum up, we can claim that information architecture is a core part of the powerful user experience design. Efficient IA helps users quickly and easily navigate through content and find everything they need without striking a blow. That’s why designers are recommended to learn the basics of the IA science.

 

The topic of information architecture is wide and there are more interesting and useful aspects. Our next article on this theme will be devoted to the various techniques and methodologies which designers employ to create efficient IA. Stay tuned!

 

Recommended reading

 

IA for the Web and Beyond

How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody

Information Architecture Basics

The Difference Between Information Architecture and UX Design


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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

UX design process tubik

7 Key Motives to Invest Time and Effort in UX for Digital Product

Even if you are far from the design field, you must have heard of user experience (UX), since it has been a buzzword for the past few years. In a nutshell, it is the general attitude and emotional feedback that user has after interacting with the product. UX is based on several key factors such as usability, utility, desirability, attractiveness, the speed of work etc. Nowadays, user experience is thought to be as important as the visual identity. However, some companies still doubt if the UX design is a must-have or it’s just a trend which is a waste of time and money. Today we offer you to find out if UX design really matters and how it can help your business succeed.

 

Why does UX design matter?

 

Nowadays many companies say about the importance of effective UX spending money and time on its development. But what makes them think so? It is already proved that the success of the business heavily depends on how much users enjoy the product. UX design aims at enhancing user satisfaction by making products more useful and easy to use.

 

Some people may think that UX is based on the visual elements of the design but it’s much more than that. UX design is a complex process which consists of many stages including user research, wireframing, prototyping, visual and graphic design, animation and testing. It requires time and knowledge to create effective UX, the reason why it may involve additional innvestments not always expected by companies. However, UX design is beneficial for both startups and already existing products since it assists in many aspects which form the successful product including user engagement, usability, utility, and conversion rates.

 

If you have a complex website such as retail, it is crucial to have the effective UX design. It helps to organize content on the pages in the best way for the users’ perception and make navigation clear. Without appropriate UX design, there is a risk of losing users because they may find your product too complicated and useless.

 

The statistics collected in recent years show that 95% of mobile apps are quit within a month. That’s why to keep new users utilizing your app or website, the product should have pleasant experience which will make them stick around. Despite the given stats, according to User Experience Survey Report, only half of the companies invest time and effort in UX for the digital products.

 

Conducting the research for this article, we’ve distinguished seven key aspects of the successful product which can be managed via effective UX design.

 

UI design product management

 

Effective usability

 

Today the word “simple” isn’t associated with something boring. It is now the crucial aspect of the successful product. Don Norman in his book “The Design of Everyday Things” says that two of the most important characteristics of good design are discoverability and understanding. Users expect products to be simple and clear in use so that they could feel confident of what are they doing and don’t take much effort. This aspect heavily depends on UX design of the product.

 

UX designer’s objective is to create consistent experience for the digital products to keep users mind at ease. An effective UX design guides visitors through the websites and apps showing them what you can offer. UX designers can conduct deep user research and analysis and do some testing on few representatives in order to eliminate unnecessary, difficult and inexplicit options and make the digital product useful. What’s more, UX experts can create effective onboarding of the product which introduces people to the features of the app making users feel welcomed and not afraid.

 

 Tubik-Studio ux design

 

Driven user engagement

 

User engagement is a measurement of meaningful actions taken by the users and it’s one of the core aspects of the profitable products. Every company aims at creating the product with the high level of user engagement but not many of them know that good UX is a solution to this issue. Well-thought UX always includes various techniques that make users take the expected actions.

 

One of the trending methods in UX is gamification which is the technique of exerting game elements into the non-game environment, such as websites and mobile applications. Gamification brings the element of fun to the websites and applications. Moreover, game mechanics are the powerful motivators for the users. As the example, you can set the tasks for the users and give the awards to those who accomplish them. Curiosity and excitement drive people to continue performing various tasks and spend more time on the app or the website. UX experts are able to influence users’ behavior and motivate them as “players” to do the expected actions via game elements such as a challenge and rewards.

 

Unique product

 

It’s hard to say how many apps exist and how many of them have failed at the very beginning of their journey. There are loads of similar and even identical products on the market so businesses are looking for the answers of how to make users choose their products. UX experts can predict users’ reaction to your product by analyzing target audience needs and requirements. If you bring people the product with pleasant experience which is enjoyable and satisfying users’ needs, you may be sure they will distinguish your app from the others and give the preferences to it.

 

Tubik Studio UI UX designer

 

Saving money

 

UX design isn’t a free or cheap service still, it’s much cheaper than fixing usability problems when the product is on the market. Based on user research, UX designers accurately choose the set of features and plan the user interaction processes to exclude possible usability problems. In addition, UX experts carry out testing on some representatives of the target audience to analyze their reaction and improve the issues. UX design on the stage of product creation costs significantly less than making changes in your product after it’s been built.

 

Customer loyalty

 

Nowadays customers are extremely demanding and the unpleasant experience can make them annoyed in a second and they won’t return to the product again. Unhappy users will never be loyal to your product, so you have to make sure the people enjoy your product. UX design is a right way to your clients’ hearts. If your product is associated with the enjoyable experience, users will doubtfully change it to something else. What’s more, happy customers are more likely to recommend your brand to the others.

 

UI research web and app design tubik

 

High conversion rates

 

According to Nielsen Norman Group, the conversion rate is the percentage of users who take the desired action. The archetypical example of conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors who buy something on the site. UX designers master many techniques of the target audience analysis that allows them to influence on improving conversion rates. Deep user research and analysis help them defining the problems of usability and reasons making customers leave the product. Knowing the pain points of the product, you can solve them to increase conversion rates.

 

Positive brand experience

 

Brand recognition depends on not only the visual image but also the provided experience. Many users remember your product and form their opinion about it during the first time they’ve used the product. The first experience is vital and if it’s bad, your brand risks losing the customers. Good UX design can guarantee your brand positive experience. Providing product which users enjoy to use, you improve your brand recognition, because users don’t forget the things they have enjoyed.

 

UI design product management

 

Powerful UX design is obviously beneficial for businesses. It can be hard to see all its value but the fact remains: UX is an essential part of the successful product. It’s a tool which helps solve the problems of such aspects as usability, utility and user engagement. And finally, compelling UX design can save money and efforts which otherwise you would have invested in fixing and improvement of the low-quality product. What’s more, on this way you risk losing users who will not give your product the second chance after facing first bad interaction. Considering all the points said above, we may state that the companies get much more from UX design than they spend on it.

 

Recommended reading

 

Here are some articles providing further interesting explorations of the topic:

 

UI/UX Glossary. Steps to Usability.

 

The Business of User Experience

 

User Experience is Brand Experience

 

Good UX Is Good Business: How To Reap Its Benefits

 

The business value of User Experience (UX) Design

 

Conversion Rates


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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

badges_illustration_tubik_design

Gamification in UX. Increasing User Engagement.

The user-centered approach, which strives for creating products highly responding to the user’s needs, has become the major philosophy behind many projects. Following this method designers constantly search for the new techniques improving user experience which depends on various aspects including emotions. The thing is that users expect a product to be simple and enjoyable in use, so the idea to add a “fun” element to the UX came as it is. But how to make the product fun and enjoyable in use? The technique called gamification was created to solve the problem. Let’s find out what’s the method of gamification in design and how it can improve UX.

 

What is gamification?

 

When we say word “gamification” in the context of design, it can be easily mistaken with the game design. Still, these terms hardly relate to each other, even more, they are opposite in many aspects. In the tech world, the word “gamification” stands for the technique of exerting game mechanics into the non-game environment, such as websites and mobile applications. For example, if you want to encourage the users to interact more with your application, you can add the game element such as a challenge. They can be challenged to check-in every day during a week and be rewarded if they do so.The thing is that people like having a clear goal and even more to be rewarded after it’s achieved, so such a challenge would doubtfully pass unnoticed among the users. This way, designers are able to influence users’ behavior and motivate them as “players” to do the expected actions via game elements such as a challenge and rewards.

 

toonie alarm stickers ios tubik

Toonie Alarm

 

Types of game mechanics for UX improvement

 

Gamification is a complicated design technique which requires using various game mechanics referring to the interactive UI elements. The main task for designers applying gamification is not to turn the product fully into a game. For this reason, there have been distinguished the effective game mechanics that are commonly used in design. Let’s see what they are.

 

Challenge

 

Human nature always makes us take the challenges and prove that we are able to handle them. So, a challenge is thought to be one of the most compelling game elements motivating people to take an action which can be a great tool on the way for UX improvement. In order to enhance the challenge effect, it may be a good idea to use some kind of rewards, so that users could feel even more motivated.

 

upper app UI design case study

Upper Streak Challenge in Upper App

 

Points

 

To measure the players’ success, many games use the points system. The gamified product can apply the same scheme that helps both users and stakeholders: the first sees their achievements and the others can estimate user engagement of the website or application. It is not necessary to make the count of points in the rating form. It may be just the number of check-ins or video views.

 

Badges and stickers

 

When users complete the challenge or gather a certain number of points, they can be awarded the badges or stickers. This kind of virtual rewards is often used in video games, so people are familiar with them. Stickers have gained people’s love long ago, therefore this kind of rewards will be appreciated. Besides, the badges and stickers give much room for the creative experimentations since they can be designed in various ways. Such rewards can become the additional drivers of motivation.

 

badges_illustration_tubik_design

PukaPal Badges

 

ui animation design tubik

Toonie Alarm Stickers

 

Leaderboards

 

The thing making the challenge even more interesting for people is the competition. Not many things can motivate users better than the desire to be the leader. The list of the “players” ranked in the order “Who’s got more badges” can increase users’ enthusiasm. However, in some cases, it may work contrarily demotivating people due to high ranks of the others. That’s why this game element is recommended to be applied carefully.

 

snake battle app UI design

Snake Battle

 

Journey

 

This game mechanic aims to make the process of interaction with the product as easy and understandable as possible. The user should feel as the real player starting the personal journey of the product usage. For example, on the onboarding page from which the user starts, they can be offered an introduction to the features, so that users won’t be afraid to make a mistake. When the journey continues, it is recommended to use the method of “scaffolding”. It means to disclose features progressively as the users become more experienced in using the product. Such an approach allows people to avoid errors and makes the product pleasing to use. Also, the journey element may be supplemented with the progress feature. Providing the information about the progress of the user’s journey, we can inspire them to continue.

 

graphic design tutorial tubik studio

Singify App Tutorial

 

Constraints

 

Many of us may think that it is not funny at all, still, there is a game element constraining players’ time. For example, the task in the games are often needed to be complete in the limited time, otherwise, players lose. The same approach can be applied to the gamified product. Users may be offered to do something which is available only today. The constraints make people react faster and somehow motivate them to take an action right here and now.

 

night in berlin tubik design case study

Night in Berlin App

 

These are some common examples of game elements in design but there is a room for the innovative game mechanics that can be applied in UX design. The major point to consider is that the product shouldn’t become too playful if it’s not expected according to general stylistic strategy and brand image.

 

The role of gamification in UX design

 

Today the method of gamification is widely used in design since it is thought to help to solve many problems in UX. The appropriate use of gamification and well-chosen game mechanics can become a valuable tool for UX designers on the way to increasing user engagement of the product as well as conversion rates. So how does it work? First of all, the gamification brings the element of fun to the websites and applications. People enjoy the interactive process full of fun, challenges, and competitive spirit similar to video games, so they are encouraged to go back. Furthermore, the game mechanics are the powerful motivators for the users. The game elements set the tasks and the awards are promised to those who accomplish them. The curiosity and excitement drive people to continue performing various the tasks and spend more time on the app or the website.

 

In addition, today gamification already goes as one of the major design approaches. Plenty of designers have caught the hype and actively apply this method in various projects. That’s why many users might already have an experience of interacting with the gamified products which mean they expect the same from yours.

 

Animated stickers mood messenger design tubik

Animated Stickers for Mood Messenger

 

Summing it up, gamification is quite a new technique which is now on the path of active proving its reliability as an effective design method. Nevertheless, its popularity is growing really fast so it has good chances to become the leading approach in a short time.

 

Recommended reading

 

Here are some more articles we could recommend for those who would like to get deeper into the topic:

 

Gamification And UX: Where Users Win Or Lose

Gamification: Designing for Motivation

5 examples of great gamification

Introducing Game Mechanics for Gamification


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user motivation design

Two Types of User Motivation: Design to Satisfy.

No doubt, every designer — as well as any creative person — wishes to make something desired by lots of users, preferably on a regular basis. There is a group of creators who claim that they are interested in the process or the fact of creation and don’t care about the further life of the product, still, it’s incredibly tiny if compared to the number of people who want to see the results of their creative work usable, useful and regularly used. One of the key factors to achieve this goal is knowing the final users and ways to motivate them. So, today let’s take another little journey to the psychology of users, this time concentrating on types of motivation and their influence on design solutions.

 

What is motivation?

 

Basically, motivation is the term coming from psychology and dealing with behavior. This concept describes something that makes people do particular actions giving specific reasons for these actions or needs. Motivation is the force that gives people motives, defined in Merriam-Webster dictionary as «something (as a need or desire) that causes a person to act». According to professor of psychology J. Nevid, «The term motivation refers to factors that activate, direct, and sustain goal-directed behavior… Motives are the «whys» of behavior — the needs or wants that drive behavior and explain what we do. We don’t actually observe a motive; rather, we infer that one exists based on the behavior we observe.» (Nevid J., Psychology: Concepts and applications. 2013)

 

Motivation appears on the crossroads of biological, cognitive, social and emotional factors, that all together influence its strength and behavior it stimulates. Three basic features which could describe the motivation of any kind are the following:

  • Activation — the decision to activate the particular type of behavior, often stimulated by formulating a particular goal or achievement
  • Persistence — the power of effort which is taken in short-term or long-term perspective to achieve a particular goal
  • Intensity — the level of concentration and desire applied by a person to achieve the goal

 

Why is it important for designers to understand the types and mechanisms of motivation? Because it shows the direct way how to make the product correspondent to users’ expectations and solving users’ pains. The product, which is designed, can be extremely helpful, but to learn that, the user should be motivated to try. And design, being the part of the product, which is both functionally and emotionally appealing, is the first and powerful way to give a user the reason to try the app or website.

 

UI design product management

 

Two basic types of motivation

 

There are two major directions of how motivation evolves and they deeply influence the decision-making process. In short, they are based on what is the source when «Why would I do that?» appears and encourages us to act: some of these reasons come from the outer world while the others are found inside ourselves. On that ground, psychologists define extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

 

Extrinsic motivation

 

This term unites the group of factors that come from outer sources. These motives can come from family, professional environment, competitions, contests etc. The motives of this sort encourage the person to deal with the outer world of other people as there is no other way to achieve the particular goals. It means that they involve the diversity of social reasons as well as stereotypes. Cultural background, age and gender, level of education, country of residence, religion and family status — these and many other factors can form and correct the reasons coming from outside and motivating people to communicate and behave this or that way. In the vast majority of cases, extrinsic motivation is a seek of reward, which can be tangible (money, prizes, diplomas, certificates, trophies, medals etc.) and intangible (praise, support, recognition etc.). The situation of competition itself presents the strong extrinsic motive: some of us are more motivated with not the prize we get but purely with the understanding that we won the others. Moreover, this factor can become even stronger in the case when there is direct support from others like friends or followers.

 

These factors should be the object of thorough research for UX designers as they actually present the doors opening the digital products to the world. The motivation via rewards has been widely used in all the kinds of games — without it for many users, a game usually doesn’t make sense — it should present the real goal which is achievable and stimulates persistence in the process of getting it. The wide invasion of the internet technologies and social networking added the element of constant competition with others strengthening the power of outer sources of motivation.

 

However, this mechanism of attracting and retaining users is applied in the variety of digital products now, including those which are far from games in their traditional understanding. When you are marked as the most loyal customer or are promised to be given a discount in case of the particular purchase; when you get the certificate via the online educational platform of which you can boast to you friends via social networks; when you are marked as the top writer or top contributor on the blog platform, and so on so forth — all that stuff presents the signs of extrinsic motivation. And that’s not bad: that’s just the way to make specific activities reasoned, which is crucial for most users. The trick is to find which reason works for this particular audience.

 

snake battle app UI design

Snake Battle App based on the extrinsic motives of winning the battle and getting rewards

 

Intrinsic Motivation

 

This is another side of the coin: that set of motives and stimuli comes out from the inner world of the person. These are the motives which are formed by the wishes and needs the person has due to its intelligence, soul, and heart. These are the motives which can be much harder to find and understand, but much longer to work successfully.

 

Intrinsic motivation is the inner engine moving a person to self-improvement whatever it could mean. In fact, people are born with this need and wish, which gets the higher level of development when the person satisfies basic needs like food and shelter and goes to the next stages in the hierarchy of needs. It’s natural for us to wish trying new things, to accept new challenges, to try our own abilities and gifts, to feel satisfaction from getting new knowledge and mastering new skills. This type of motivation is often stronger than the previous as it comes from what nature the person has and what personal likes or dislikes move decision-making process. In everyday terms, we often call this type of motivation «interest» or «desire» which becomes a significant factor for retaining users. And it’s a well-known factor that the simple explanation: «I do it just because it’s interesting» is one of the strongest motives which can only exist. It moves the user to act because of the subject of the activity itself rather than reward or recognition.

 

underwater world encyclopedia design tubik

Underwater World Encyclopedia based on intrinsic motive of getting new knowledge

 

wedding planner app UI design

Wedding Planner based on the intrinsic motive to optimize personal effort in organization of the event 

 

toonie alarm UI design

Toonie Alarm combining intrinsic motive (getting up on time) and extrinsic motive (getting stickers as rewards)

 

Getting the knowledge about target audience at the stage of user research, designers can analyze which types of motives and which their combinations will work for the specific users.

 

Intrinsic_extinsic_motivation_by_IDF

 

The visual presentation of two major motivation types by experts from Interaction Design Foundation 

 

Building motivation with design

 

Knowledge on the mechanisms of motivation can become the great help for UI/UX designers and information architects. The advantage of providing appropriate motives for the target audience can be applied at the levels of:

— thinking over the clear application or website structure and organization of triggers and informational blocks supported with rigorous user research

— building navigation and call-to-action elements according to things which engage users motivating them to act

— creating appropriate layout demonstrating key benefits or rewards

— providing supportive onboarding process motivating to try the product and test its functions

— presenting visual design solutions appealing to the target audience and adding the motive of aesthetic satisfaction

— including the copy which stimulates users, describes the key benefits of the product, the achievements users can get and support available in the process of interaction

— adding the features of setting short-term and long-term goals

— enabling users to share their achievements via various social networks — approval and praise of virtual communities is the powerful extrinsic motive nowadays.

 

user motivation design

Upper App using the mechanism of intrinsic motivation to boost users’ productivity

 

The bottom line is simple here: if you want users to like and use your product, give them a reason to love it. They will start their journey with «Why?» and will repeat that question regularly at different levels of interaction — so get prepared to show them the answer.


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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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UI research web and app design tubik

User Research. Empathy Is the Best UX Policy.

Starting any project, which is not their personal presentation but a product for users, designers should be deeply aware: they work primarily not for self-expression, not for showing their creativity to the world, not for creating something revolutionary new that will make the world go round in opposite direction. They work to solve users’ problems, satisfy their wishes and achieve business goals.

 

That is why it’s vital to establish who the potential users of the future product are and which their wishes and needs could be met. This is the time when the designer turns into the researcher to get as much information as possible and analyze it for the sake of user-friendly solutions in design and interactions. In our earlier articles, we have already mentioned the significant role of user research in creating problem-solving user-friendly designs, and today we suggest getting deeper into its definition, methods, techniques and benefits in the process of creating a digital product.

 

web design tubik studio

 

What is user research?

 

Generally, the word «research», being quite universal for the diverse spheres of professional activities, roots into the Old French word recercher meaning «seek out, search closely»; first, it was the verb and later transformed into the noun of the same semantics. The modern definition of the noun according to Cambridge Dictionary state the meaning as «a detailed study of a subject, especially in order to discover (new) information or reach a (new) understanding». This sort of activity is widely applied in a variety of sciences and practical fields, including informational architecture and user experience design.

 

Basically, user research is the comprehensive and multilayered activity whose aim is to collect information about the potential target audience of the product. Via a number of techniques, user researchers collect and then analyze the information obtained from real users, and this outcome usually allows the design team to work on the optimal solutions which will make the product user-friendly and attractive.

 

Therefore, user research means getting deeper into details of core target audience to understand their preferences and psychological peculiarities, the influence of different factors like colors, stylistic decisions, and logic of interaction on emotions and experience of the defined group, the sources of information and creative performance ways which could engage users and make them active. On this basis, visual design presumes to create the original and recognizable style that will make the product stand out of the crowd and draw potential customer’s attention.

 

User research is actually the way by which designer is able to step into the shoes of the user and go along his or her path feeling all the stones on the way. This is the way to create designs based on empathy — the ability to place yourself onto the place of the other person, to feel what they are feeling and see what they are seeing. This precious ability enables designers to create things which not only work well and look good but also do what the particular users need them to do.

 

web development

 

Why is user research needed?

 

Famous guru of advertising David Ogilvy emphasized the great importance of research for creating effective result: «Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.» Time has changed the means, goals and technologies, still, the vital role of research established even stronger. Neglecting the research stage and relying only on their creative intuition, experience and talent, designers risk failing this task as they will not know the conditions of the app functioning and will not be able to make it efficient, user-friendly and original.

 

As we mentioned before, designers who start creating a product just at once when they get the task are quite risky guys. There are plenty of things to do before the designing process itself. Ignoring those things can give the interesting but not viable result. It’s important to analyze the competition, to understand the target market, to find out the sources of traffic and potential expectations of the users before setting off. Otherwise, you can waste much more time on loads of inefficient variants.

 

Toonie Alarm UI design

 

When is user research applied?

 

Describing the typical stages of product creation process here in Tubik, we have mentioned the set of the following stages: setting the task and initial scope of works; estimation; user/market research; UX wireframing; prototyping; UI design; animation; software architecture planning; development; testing; release; updates. Still, it doesn’t mean that all these stages go one-by-one in this order — some of them are interconnected and some of them are spread around the whole creative process. User research is applied at several different levels of creation, somehow changing the perspective and the goals on the data which should be obtained and analyzed.

 

We would mark out three typical stages when user research is a must-do essential for creating the efficient design.

 

Pre-design research: this is actually the initial stage of the creative process when designer working over the project is exploring the requirements of the stakeholders and collects the maximum information about the target audience.  As well as in a scientific project, the scientist collects and analyzes the heritage of the previous specialists involved in the sphere to make the product actual, the UX designer needs to do the same to offer the solutions correspondent to what users need and want.  This is the time to talk, read and analyze a lot. This is when the designer needs to dive into psychology and behavior, together with the stakeholder set the goals of the product and investigate the factors which influence choices in this domain. Certainly, with every next project and each next dose of experience, the designer can get accustomed to user research techniques and needs less time for them. However, there never comes the day when the designer doesn’t need any time for research as long as every project has its unique requirements and its own USP which should be enlightened by design.

 

In-process research: it is applied at different stages of the actual design process when, having the chances to interact with users, discuss their wishes, watch their behavior and analyze the problems they have, designers explore the offered solutions in action and on that basis can alter some positions of their research and add more efficiency to the user interfaces.

 

Real product research: this is the another level of research applied to actually existing digital product users operate with. Applying various techniques of user testing, designers collect actual experience, analyze it and make improvements in terms of real cases of the product usage in different environments and conditions.

 

UI design Upper App

 

What are the dimensions of user research?

 

Certainly, there are numerous approaches to the process of research. Among them, we would like to draw your attention to the dimensions outlined by Nielsen Norman Group, highly experienced in the domain of research and analysis and regularly sharing their findings in this sphere. They offer to view the methods of user research along a 3-dimensional framework with the following axes:

  • Attitudinal vs. Behavioral
  • Qualitative vs. Quantitative
  • Context of Use

ux-landscape-questions

 

As we can see from the scheme, attitude is what people say while behavior is what people do. In real life, they are often different things and aspects, due to numerous reasons like individual traits of character, temper, education level, age, gender, beliefs and so on. Another opposition presents qualitative analysis, which is usually measured by definite numbers (like «how many clicks the user makes before accomplishing the payment») and qualitative analysis («why user can leave the page without registration and how this problem could be fixed»). And the context of use analyzes all the additional factors which can influence the outcome of interaction with the product, for example, is the user goes along the preliminary given script or interaction is full improvisation.

 

Analyzing the data in terms of different dimensions, designers are able to take the comprehensive outcome enabling to make solid decisions about the interactions and visual performance.

 

What are the methods of user research?

 

Today, user experience design has already grown into a sphere with the considerable background of project and research cases, which have resulted in the extensive set of different research methods. Some methods are used on a regular basis, some are more rare and specific, yet it’s good for designers to be aware of a variety of them. Let’s briefly review the popular ones.

 

Interviews. Perhaps the most widely spread method when, having set the target audience of the product, people involved into the creative process interact directly with potential users and ask them questions to collect information. The quality of questions is the issue of high importance here. It’s effective to apply both close (yes/no) and open (giving the detailed answer) questions to let users provide diverse information.

 

Personas. The technique which has been applied in marketing and sales for a long time with client/buyer personas and now has transformed into a new perspective of user personas. With this technique, designer collects the data about the potential target audience, its psychological and behavioral preferences and habits and creates a bunch of imaginary users with these characteristic. On the ground of this data, the designer models users’ interactions with the product and possible issues that can arise in the process.

 

Sorting cards. This technique is effectively applied in cases when designers deal with the products presenting complex interfaces and variety of diverse content. The users are asked to categorize the content and set the hierarchies. In this way, the designers obtain the data showing how users see this sort of content and what way of its organization would be efficient for quick and easy navigation around the app or website.

 

Surveys. Another traditional method of scientific and social explorations when users are offered the set of questions. Answering them, users give the actual information enabling designers to understand their preferences and wishes deeper.

 

Focus group. Popular method presenting the moderated discussion of the product, its features, benefits and drawbacks within the group of people potentially close to the target audience. Altering some characteristics of the group, for example, age, gender, education level, tech literacy, researchers can receive the variety of data and see how these features can influence user behavior.

 

Task analysis. The method exploring the tasks and goals which users have interacting with the product. Understanding what users want to do enables designer to consider the fast and effective ways to achieve these goals.

 

Eyetracking. Special devices enable the designer to review which zones of the website or app users interact with more actively and use these zones in the most efficient and informative way.

 

Participatory design. Users are offered the set of elements for the layout and can suggest their own vision of the construction.

 

Clickstream testing. The analysis of the most clickable parts of the layout with the aim of designing clear interactions and reveal the problems.

 

A/B Testing. The users deal with one variant of design (version A) for some time and then another variant (version B) while the researcher collects the information along the necessary metrics and makes the conclusion about the efficiency of the versions.

 

Daily Reports. The user is asked to interact with a product for a particular period providing the reports on a daily basis. This helps to check the usability of the product in the perspective of long-term use.

 

Desirability testing. The users are usually offered visually and stylistically different versions and provide the feedback which version they would prefer and why.

 

design navigation UI UX tubik studio

 

What are the important points to consider in user research?

 

Collecting the data about user behavior and preferences via diverse methods and techniques, the designer has to take into account the following factors:

 

— the environment of use (the factors of using the product indoors or outdoors, the level of light, noise, available time and tons of other things can have an impact on design solutions)

— factors of intrinsic motivation (the internal personal stimuli moving the person to act)

— factors of extrinsic motivation (the outer factors of getting a reward or avoiding punishment that encourage people’s behavior)

— longevity of the product (based on the period for which the product is planned for use: if it grows together with the user or is applicable only in a particular age).

 

It’s should be remembered that removing the mistakes in design, even if its already high-fidelity level, is faster, cheaper and less painful for users than fixing negative issues with already launched and operating product.

 

The bottom line is simple. Don’t be lazy to research vital points of the project before you start designing. Don’t fancy doing the research? No problem, go to duck and dive in loads of baseless concepts instead of going along the solid path of understanding the user’s needs and wishes. Just don’t forget: it’s not you who decides that the product is successful, it’s not even other designers or stakeholders. It’s users. So, empathy is the best policy.

 

Recommended reading

 

Here are some articles we recommend for those who would like to get deeper into the topic:

 

Complete Beginner’s Guide to UX Research

 

When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods

 

User Research Basics

 

Pareto Principle-Based User Research

 

How To Conduct User Experience Research Like A Professional

 

Open-Ended vs. Closed-Ended Questions in User Research

 


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