Tag Archives: icons

usability_interfaces_ux_design_tubik

Take It Easy: Tips for Effort-Saving User Interfaces.

«Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,» said genius Leonardo da Vinci, and this eternal truth is as fair now as it was several centuries ago. Such an approach in design for web and mobile interfaces results in human-centred products which are pleasant and easy in use. Make no mistake, simple doesn’t mean empty, primitive or monofunctional. Instead, it means clear, intuitive and helpful. Really simple products not only solve user’s problems but also do it in an optimal way in the aspects of times and effort.

 

We aren’t often thinking in terms of love and respect when it comes to digital products. We can describe them in tons of other words featuring appearance (like beautiful, elegant, interesting etc.) or functionality (like intuitive, easy-to-use, confusing etc.) or content (like informative, consistent etc.) but you rarely can hear that someone names a website or app respectful. However, respect of user’s time and energy is one of the vital goals which designers should strive to achieve in the product they work on. This approach is the great factor of usability and desirability. Today we would like to share some advice and techniques which could become supportive in this aim. These tips aren’t reinventing the wheel but present a helpful checklist for design outcome. So, let’s check what designers can do to save time and effort for users.

visual hierarchy in UI design

 

1. Put the core data into header

 

Talking about websites, it is an extremely helpful idea for quick and easy navigation. The only problem is to decide on what core data is, especially for websites with a huge amount of various data, like big e-commerce websites, news platforms or multi-theme blogs. Header is a strategic part of a page as people see it before scrolling the page in the first seconds of introduction to the website. Being a sign of invitation, header should provide the key information about the digital product so that users could scan it in split seconds.

 

In our article telling about web headers design in detail, we provided the typical types of content which can be included into headers:

 

  • 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. Here designers, preferably together with marketing specialists and stakeholders, need to decide on the strategically important options and pick them up from the list or add the others.

Why is header so essential? Eye-tracking investigations show that whichever scanning model 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.

gourmet_website_interactions_tubik

 

2. Make branding highly visual

 

In terms of the discussed topic, brand means a sort of image created via a set of distinguishing features and promoting awareness and recognizability of the product or service on the market. This image can be created in tons of diverse ways — visual, verbal, touchable etc. In web and mobile design, branding supposedly means a set of visual elements defining the brand style, which can be applied in the interfaces such as logo, typography, brand colors and the like. All of them together are a powerful tool for creating visual recognizability of the product as well as its style. Being based on the analysis of target audience and marketing/ customer research, branding in this sense plays the vital role in product promotion as visual perception is very fast and easy for most people, much easier than reading the text and much more memorable than listening to speech. Moreover, if the brand is already well-established, it’s signs observed in the first seconds of seeing a website or app increase the level of trust.

Bakery website design case study tubik

 

3. Use numbers, not words

 

One of the investigations of user behavior provided by Nielsen Norman Blog shared an interesting finding: based on eye-tracking studies while users scan web pages, numerals often stop the wandering eye and attract fixations, even when they’re embedded within a mass of words that users otherwise ignore. People subconsciously associate numbers with facts, stats, sizes and distance — something potentially useful for them. So they are hooked with the numbers included into copy while words representing numerals can be misses in the bulk of text. Even more, whatever numbers represent, they are more compact than their textual variant, which enables to make the content more concise and time-saving for skimming the data.

 

4. Make the call-to-action (CTA) instantly noticeable

 

A call to action (CTA) is actually a word of phrase stimulating users to interact with a product in a way and for the aim it is designed for. CTA elements are the interactive controls which enable users to do the action they are called to. Typical types of such interactive elements in the layout are buttons, tabs, or links. In the interfaces of all kinds, CTA elements are the core factor of effective interaction with the product, which plays the crucial role in usability and navigability. When all the path of interaction and transitions is built clearly for users but CTA element is not thought-out, placed or designed well, users can get confused and will need to take additional effort trying to achieve their goals. That sets the high risk for poor conversion rate and general user experience. That’s why this navigation element should draw particularly deep designers attention. In any interface, it should be one of the most prominent and quickly noticeable parts to inform users how the product can be helpful or useful for them.

bookshop website animation

 

5. Care about general page scannability

 

As it was already mentioned, users don’t usually read and observe all the content on the page or screen from the starting point: instead, they start from quick scanning to understand if it contains something they need or want. 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. 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.

reading pattern

Gutenberg Diagram

 

reading pattern zig-zag

Z-Pattern

 

f_reading_pattern_eyetracking

F-Pattern

 

Knowing these models, designers and information architects can build navigation and important data in the points where they have the highest chances to be seen and get the user interested. The well-thought-out visual hierarchy will make the page easily skimmed saving users’ time and energy.

design for users copy in UI

 

6. Check the icons perception

 

Icons are pictograms or ideograms used in the web or mobile interface to support its usability and provide the successful flow of human-computer interaction. It’s hard to overestimate their role in UI navigation: they make it much quicker as most users perceive images faster than words. Usage of recognizable and clear icons has a great potential in boosting usability. However, even the slightest misperception can become the reason of poor UX so the solutions on the type of icons should be carefully tested and if needed supported with the appropriate copy content.

 

7. Strengthen the message with theme images and hero banners

 

No secret, in many cases an image is worth a thousand words. In web and mobile UI it often works that way: images become highly supportive and effective in setting the mood or transferring the message. In addition, images present the part of the content which is both informative and emotionally appealing. Original illustration, prominent hero banners, engaging photos can satisfy multiple goals: they catch users’ attention, transfer the message visually, support the general stylistic concept,

  • catch users’ attention
  • transfer the message visually
  • support the general stylistic concept
  • set the needed theme, mood or atmosphere
  • demonstrate the core benefits or items effectively.

dance academy landing page animation

 

8. Talk to users in their language

 

Copy content plays the crucial role for communication with the user. Not only its effective visual presentation is significant for high page performance: the style, structure, and vocabulary should also correspond to user’s expectation from a page. Usage of too formal or business-like style in an entertainment app for teenagers, or vice versa too informal style on the luxury website selling elite real estate — there can be hundreds of cases when copy doesn’t follow business goals as well as habits and needs of a target audience. That kind of content inconsistency can be confusing and move the users away from the website or app. User research will be effective for this issue to see what way users want to communicate while a professional copywriter will help to strengthen design with the power of words.

web_ui_design_tubik

 

9. Use the power of Gestalt principles

 

Gestalt is the term meaning «shape, form». It is used primarily in cognitive psychology for the field exploring the laws of meaningful perception of the data which people constantly get from the world that seems primarily chaotic. It works on different levels of perception, but the visual part seems to be the most interesting for designers creating interfaces. It helps understand the psychology of the app or website users better. When designers know the factors influencing visual perception, it makes the process of UX design much more proficient giving higher rates of successful interactions and lowering the level of misunderstandings users could get on this way.

gestalt-theory-grouping_principles
 

For example, applying the principles of similarity and proximity, designers can group the layout elements according to  human cognitive abilities, so that users could perceive them in the most natural and convenient way.

bright_vibe_calendar_app_ui_tubik

 

10. Optimize visual content

 

Whatever interesting, attractive and informative is the interface, there is the invisible factor which can erase all the benefits — the loading speed. If the visual content — images, animations, video — applied to an interface is too heavy or doesn’t perform well on different devices, the risks are high to lose users before they will understand the strong points of the product. In terms of high competition, with loads of websites and application, be sure: users aren’t going to wait, they will head for the more convenient and quick alternative even if it loses in a number of points. Optimization and persistent testing of visual content is the real sign of respect to the user boosting less time-consuming flow of interaction.

website design UI

 

Hopefully, this list will be helpful for those who are aimed at creating positive user experience. Don’t miss the updates — new practical tips and inspiration are coming very soon.

 

Useful articles

 

This set of articles can be useful to dive deeper into the points mentioned above

 

Best Practices for Website Header Design

The Role of Branding in UI Design

Visual Hierarchy: Effective UI Content Organization.

Gestalt Theory for Efficient UX: Principle of Similarity.

Gestalt Theory for UX Design: Principle of Proximity.

Copywriting in UI. Words that Make Design Go Round.

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

Tips on Applying Copy Content in User Interfaces.


 
Welcome to see designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance

UI navigation design elements

UX Design Glossary: Interface Navigation Elements. Set 2.

Interface navigation belongs to the core issues of UX design. That’s not surprising: it’s hard to get to your destination if you can’t see the way. Being surrounded by more and more websites and applications every day, users are high-fed with the diversity of offers and expect intuitive navigation as a must-have. So, let’s continue our talk about the theme with a new issue of navigation glossary to learn more about this powerful booster of usability. Earlier we presented you the first set of UX glossary for navigation covering the definitions and examples for navigation, menu, button, CTA, bar, picker, switch etc.  Today let’s add the new ones to the list: check the details for icons, search field and tags.

 

information architecture for designers tubik

 

Icons

 

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

 

One of the most valuable benefits of icons among is the ability to effectively replace the text. This feature is able to boost usability and strengthen navigation as most users tend to perceive and decode images faster than words. However, even the slightest misperception or double meaning can become the reason of poor UX so the solutions on the type of icons should be carefully tested to reach the good balance of icons and copy for a particular target audience. One of the effective variants is using both copy and icon so that different categories of users could feel good with that: this approach is particularly popular in various catalogues of e-commerce websites where different positions are presented by both words and pictures giving the user double support for quick and clear navigation.

UI icons in interface design tubik blog

 

Based on their functions, icons can be classified as: 

— interactive icons: icons which are directly involved into interaction process. They are clickable or tappable and respond to the users request doing the action symbolized by them. They inform users about the functions or features of the buttons, controls and other elements of interaction. In many cases, they are obvious and don’t need the copy support.

— clarifying icons: icons aimed at explanation, visual markers explaining particular features or marking out categories of content. They may be not the layout elements of direct interaction; also, they are often found in combination with copy supporting their meaning. 

— entertaining and decorative icons: icons aimed at aesthetic appeal rather than functionality, often used to present seasonal features and special offers. They present the effective way of attracting user’s attention and enhance the general stylistic concept of a digital product.

— app icons: interactive brand signs that present the application on different platforms supporting the original identity of the digital product.

— favicons: represents the product or brand in the URL-line of the browser as well as in the bookmark tab. It allows users to get a quick visual connection with it while they are browsing.

 

tubik studio tapbar ui

 

Read more about types and functions of icons here

 

Search Field

 

A search field, which is also called search box or search bar, presents the interface element enabling user to type in the keywords and this way find the pieces of content that are needed. It is one of the core navigation elements for the websites or apps with a big amount of content, in particular blogs, e-commerce and news websites etc. Well-designed and easily found search field enables the user jump to the necessary point without browsing through the numerous pages and menus: as this approach respects user’s time and effort, it is highly demanded in user-friendly interfaces.

 

In terms of design, this element can be presented in different ways, from the framed tab to the interactive input line, or even minimalist clickable icon. In the vast majority of cases, the search field is marked with the icon featuring a magnifying glass. This symbol is recognizable by a wide variety of users so it has proved itself effective for setting intuitive navigation. Experiments with this icons can influence badly on interactions and usability of the layout, so if other symbolic images are applied, they should be carefully tested. The flow of interaction can also be supported with the dropdown menu offering possible options or auto-filling functionality.

 

tubik studio ice ui website

Another important issue is the placement of the search graphic control in the interface. In web design, search field can be often found in a header of a website and this is a good choice: as we mentioned in the article devoted to design practices for website headers, for any website it is the zone of the highest visibility, so putting a search field there enables users to quickly get transferred to the pages they really need without wandering through the website and scrolling down. For example, it is actual for big e-commerce websites often visited by users who have a particular goal, a specific item they are looking for — if they can’t find it quickly and conveniently, the risk is high that they will leave decreasing the profitability of the resource. Moreover, the power of habit should also be taken into account: as numerous websites include search into their headers, users are accustomed to looking for it there when they need it.

 

Talking about search field in mobile interfaces, the situation differs as the designer is much more limited in the usable space. If the app is based on a lot of content and search is one of the central elements of interaction, it can be found in the tab bar and easily reached. In case the search is not crucial for the user goals and usability of the app, it can be hidden in menus or shown only on the screen where it’s potentially needed.

 

tubik studio motion design ui

 

Tag

 

Tag is an interactive element presented with a keyword or phrase that enables the user to move quickly to the items marked up with it. Tags are actually pieces of metadata that provide quick access to specific categories of content so they support navigation with the additional way of content classification. Moreover, tags are often the elements which users create by themselves comparing to the names of categories that are fixed by the website and can’t be changed by users.

 

design for users website interface

 

Tags are widely used on the platforms based on user-generated content: when you upload the photo to the stock, post on the social networks or write on the blog, you can mark your content with the particular keywords which will then unite all the pieces of content marked with the tag. The screenshot above shows you the part of the home page of Design4Users Blog which actively uses a cloud of tags to enhance navigation around the blog content. In terms of interaction, click on a tag moves the user to the webpage collecting all the content marked with this tag. Also, tags are SEO-friendly technique increasing the chances that the content will be found via search engines.

example of tag in the interface

As another example, here’s the tagging offered by Unsplash, the well-known platform of free stock photos. When users download a photo, they are offered to type their own tags aka keywords which would describe this photo in the best way helping other users to find it. As we can see, the input field for adding tags also supports users with prompts for better usability. So, tags present user-generated elements of navigation that makes the interface closer and clearer to its target audience. 

 


 

Planning the navigation is the hard work which demands a good knowledge of psychology and interaction patterns, user testing and serious approach to information architecture from the earliest stages of an app or website design. However, it becomes the solid ground for positive user experience which will solve users’ problems and motivate them to get back to the product again and again.

 

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

 

Recommended reading

 

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

 

UI/UX Design Glossary. Navigation Elements.

iOS Human Interface Guidelines

Navigation patterns for ten common types of websites

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

3 essential rules for effective navigation design

Perfecting navigation for the mobile web

Understanding Web UI Elements & Principles

User Interface Elements

The Most Creative Mobile Navigation Patterns

Basic Patterns for Mobile Navigation


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

Welcome to read us on Quora

UI design for blog app

Gestalt Theory for Efficient UX: Principle of Similarity.

Many designers can boast of having creative intuition and a sharp eye: they add as much passion and feeling into the layout of the future website or app as rational thinking and measurement. In lots of cases, that’s not bragging but the real skill to see all the details together, to feel the possible pitfalls of the user flow, to find the original solutions not ruining usability. Yet, there’s no magic on this way: this skill is based on not only talent but also practical experience and persistence in studying theory, standards, and guidelines which quickly change together with technology and devices. Even creative experiments are based on the knowledge of interaction mechanisms and factors influencing them: to break the rules, you have to know them well.

 

Visual hierarchy in web and mobile interfaces belongs to the domain knowing which designers strengthen their creative potential. Exploring the ways how people perceive information and using them for building good navigation, digestible copy, and effective color choice has a great impact on the usability of the product — and scannability as its important part. So, today we are going back to basics: let’s start revising how Gestalt grouping principles can affect user interfaces positively.

 

What is Gestalt theory?

 

Basically, Gestalt is the term that comes from the German word Gestalt [ɡəˈʃtalt] meaning «shape, form». It is used primarily in cognitive psychology for the field exploring the laws of meaningful perception of the data which people constantly get from the world that seems primarily chaotic. The basic idea behind this movement can be caught through the well-known phrase by Gestalt psychologist Kurt Koffka: «The whole is other than the sum of the parts». When people perceive the complex objects consisting of many elements, they apply conscious or subconscious methods of arranging the parts into a whole organized system instead of just the set of simple objects. It works on different levels of perception, but the visual part seems to be the most interesting for designers creating interfaces.

 

Why could designers get interested in this issue? Because it helps understand the psychology of the app or website users better. When you know the factors influencing visual perception, it makes the process of UX design much more proficient giving higher rates of successful interactions and lowering the level of misunderstandings users could get on this way. Among the various levels of this approach, principles (or laws) of grouping are probably the most essential for designers to consider. These principles are based on the idea that people arrange what they see along with some patterns organized into five global categories: Proximity, Similarity, Continuity, Closure, and Connectedness. Here’s one of the infographics offered by Vertical Measures blog and visualizing the core description for some principles.

 

gestalt-theory-grouping_principles

Source

 

In user interfaces, principles of grouping applied thoughtfully make the perception of layout elements quicker and easier as well as establish the priorities in different levels of interaction. Today we are going to consider the similarity principle of grouping widely used in design practice.

 

Similarity principle

 

The principle of similarity is grounded on the idea that things which share visual characteristics such as shape, size, color, texture, value or orientation will be seen as belonging together. It means that if a person perceives the set of elements, he or she tends to group the ones which have one or several features alike as the related items.  Therefore, giving different layout elements identic or similar visual features, designers stimulate users to set the appropriate connections and understand the whole scheme faster.

 

Similarity can be based on various visual parameters such as color, shape, size, and orientation. Let’s check some practical examples on interfaces designed by Tubik team.

 

Color

 

bright vibe calendar UI design tubik

Bright Vibe Calendar

 

Here’s the common example of applying color similarity in the simple calendar app. The letters marking the days of the week on the calendar screen are visually grouped with one color which is different from the colors used for the numbers in the calendar grid. Therefore, the quick glance is enough to separate these types of symbols — color simplifies the process of the first scanning. The next level of color similarity takes place in the field of numbers: the dates on the week which the user has chosen look brighter while the other dates of the month look more faded. The key interactive zones are colored brightly and present the visual accent which is instantly noticeable and cannot be missed. So, color enables the designer to make the easy path of navigation for a user with effective visual hierarchy via the principle of grouping.

 

todo list UI app tubik studio

To-Do App

 

One more example here shows how grouping by color can be applied effectively for the copy in graphical interfaces. You can see the screen of a to-do app where the position which is already marked as done is featured in different color compared to the tasks that are in progress. It enables the user to scan the list quickly and group the kinds of tasks in split seconds.

 

tubik studio blog app

Blog App

 

More complex application of grouping principle by color is marking categories and blocks of content. It works very well in the interfaces full of various content organized on several levels such as, let’s say, blogs, e-commerce or educational resources etc. Color markers simplify navigation and keep the consistency of design enabling users to remember the color prompts and find the content they want easily. The example above shows the blog app applying this principle: various posts are organized around global categories and marked with colors which you can see on icons, colored tabs on the posts and correspondent quick stats of posts in the user profile. The same principle is applied in the Moneywise App shown below.

 

mobile app design tubik studio

Moneywise App

 

This is the educational app devoted to economics: the content is organized into four global categories. The color used to mark the category is used as the background color for all the cards belonging to it. So, in the process of interaction, it helps users to quickly get oriented where they are.

 

Surely, this way of color grouping goes further as it organizes not just the elements on one screen but different screens or pages within all the digital product. However, it also corresponds to the Gestalt principles: such an approach allows designers to create interfaces which look and feel consistent and support the general integrity of visual perception from screen to screen, from one interaction to the other.

 

Size

 

The principle of similarity grouping the elements by size is another cornerstone in creating intuitive and user-friendly interfaces as it establishes the basis for strong visual hierarchy supporting users. This approach helps to set the priorities and make the most important content visible. Grouping the similar content elements by this principle arranges the connection between them, often faster than a user can read the copy or see all the details.

 

The good way to present this principle in action is checking the organization of copy content.

 

website design UI

Architecture Firm Website

 

The example features the corporate website of an architecture company. The copy blocks presenting the benefits and approaches of the firm are supported with the keywords applying two grouping principles simultaneously: they use different size and different text orientation. In the process of interaction, they are obviously perceived as the related elements. Also, the extended menu page shows the typographic hierarchy grouping copy elements by size: keywords, categories, and subcategories.

 

tubik studio button ui

Tab bar interaction concept

 

Here’s another example of grouping by size and color. We can see the concept of a tab bar in which interactive elements of equal importance are given in the same size and faded shade while the core interactive element — plus button —  is made prominent via bright color and bigger size. Moreover, trying to add the content via this button the user is offered three options for different types of content. And again, grouping the appearing three buttons which use the same color as the parent button but smaller size, the interface enables the user to set the connections and hierarchy of navigation elements easily based on typical operations of cognitive perception.

 

Shape

 

One more way to group the elements on the web page or screen is marking them by shape. 

 

tubik studio motion design ui

Green Spy app interactions

 

The example shows the app which uses cards of the same shape to simulate the interaction with the physical objects — the base of data cards. This approach allows the user to perceive the set of content blocks as related.

 

Homey app smart home UI

Homey App

 

The interface for Homey app shown above also presents the example of grouping by shape consistently from one screen to another: the buttons marking the rooms use the rounded-square shape while the buttons of various indicators within a particular room screen use the round shape. It sets the clear connections between the related layout elements as well as global navigation in the app.

 

Although we have just started revising Gestalt theory usage in design, it’s already obvious that knowing these simple yet effective principles can save much effort for users and support user-friendly interfaces with mechanisms that work according to human cognitive abilities and psychological patterns. Follow the updates to check the explanations and examples for other grouping principles: proximity, symmetry, continuation and others. 

 

Recommended Reading

 

Design Principles: Visual Perception And The Principles Of Gestalt

Improve Your Designs With The Principles Of Similarity And Proximity

Gestalt Theory of Visual Perception

Gestalt Principles: How Are Your Designs Perceived?


Welcome to see designs by Tubik Studio on Dribbble and Behance

UI icons in interface design tubik blog

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

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

 

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

 

Definition

 

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

 

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

 

weather app design UI

 

History

 

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

 

icons xerox star

Source

 

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

 

icons apple machintosh

Source

 

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

 

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

 

Types based on functions

 

Clarifying icons

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

 

Homey app smart home UI

Homey App

 

saily app UI design

Category icons for Saily app

 

Interactive icons

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

 

tubik studio tapbar ui

Tab Bar interactions

 

ui concept animation tubik studio

Menu interaction concept

 

Decorative and entertaining icons

 

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

easter icons tubik studio

Easter and spring themed icons 

 

App icons

 

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

 

logo design by Tubik studio

Elephun App Icon

 

Favicon

 

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

 

Types based on visual performance

 

Glyph icons

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

 

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

 

pictish_rune_meanings

Source

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

 

material icons

Material icons

 

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

 

weather_icons tubik studio

Weather icons

 

Flat and semi-flat icons

 

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

 

tubik studio blog app

Blog App

 

Skeuomorphic icons

 

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

 

SVG icons

 

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

 

Types based on applied image metaphor

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

multimedia icons tubik studio

Multimedia Icon Set

 

Key features of effective icons

 

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

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

 

Icons in UI tubikstudio

 

Recommended reading

 

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

 

Icon Classification: Resemblance, Reference, and Arbitrary Icons

A Brief History of the Origin of the Computer Icon

Iconic Simplicity. The Vital Role of Icons.

Visual Perception: Icons VS Copy in UI.

How to Combine Icons from Different Sets in Your UI


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

human memory tips on ux design

How Human Memory Works: Tips for UX Designers.

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

 

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

 

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

 

Ui design trends by Tubik Blog

Healthy Food App

 

Basic points about memory

 

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

 

Basically, psychologists mention three types of memory:

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

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

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

 

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

 

memory work

 

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

 

Basic laws of memory

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

cinema app interaction ui animation

Cinema App

 

Expert explorations of memory

 

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

 

Miller’s Law

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

landing page animation Tubik studio

Magic.co landing page

 

Hick’s Law

 

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

 

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

 

ui animation cafe app tubikstudio

Cafe Coupon App

 

Tips for memory-friendly UX

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

website design for photographers

Photography workshops

 

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

 

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

 

book swap app tubik studio

Book Swap App

 

3. Save memory effort with recognizable patterns and symbols

 

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

 

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

 

tubik studio behance weather app

Weather App

 

4. Apply consistent markers in navigation

 

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

 

Homey app smart home UI

Homey App

 

5. Don’t hide the core elements of navigation

 

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

 

bookshop website animation

Bookshop Website

 

6. Stimulate different types of memory

 

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

 

tubik studio application recipes and cooking

Recipe App

 

7. Remember about emotions

 

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

 

ui animation design tubik

Night in Berlin App

 

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

 

Recommended reading

 

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

 

Short-Term Memory and Web Usability

 

UX and Memory: Present Information at Relevant Points

 

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

 

User Memory Design: How To Design For Experiences That Last

 

Visual Perception. Icons vs Copy in UI.

 

Total (Memory) Recall

 

The Properties of Human Memory and Their Importance for Information Visualization


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

home budget app case study

Case Study: Home Budget App. UI for Finance.

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

 

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

 

Task

 

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

 

Process

 

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

 

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

 

Dashboard

 

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

 

Dashboard_home_budget UI

 

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

 

The cards present such information blocks of data:

— the menu with quick access to popular categories of expenses

— information on total expenses and frequency of transactions

— the list of popular transactions

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Home_budget_app_dashboard_animation_tubik

 

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

 

Mobile UI

 

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

 

home budget app mobile screen

 

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

 

home budget app mobile notifications

 

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

 

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

 

Home Budget app interactions motion tubik

 

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

 

home budget app interaction animation tubik

 

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

 

home budget app case study

 

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


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

tubikstudio homepage design

Best Practices for Website Header Design

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

 

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

 

What is a header?

 

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

 

tubikstudio ui webdesign

 

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

 

What can a header include?

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

tubikstudio ui animation website design

 

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

 

tubikstudio homepage design

 

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

 

Why is header important?

 

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

 

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

 

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

reading pattern

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

 

reading pattern zig-zag

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

 

f_reading_pattern_eyetracking

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Design practices

 

Readability and visual hierarchy

 

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

 

online magazine design tubik studio

 

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

 

web design UI concept tubik studio

 

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

 

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

 

Hamburger menu

 

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

 

hamburger button tubik studio

 

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

 

tubik studio ice ui website

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

 

tubik studio web UI design

 

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

 

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

 

Fixed (Sticky) header

 

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

 

Tubik studio UI design

 

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

 

website design for photographers

 

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

 

Double menu

 

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

 

Bakery website design case study tubik

 

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

 

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

 

Recommended reading

 

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

 

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

 

F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content

 

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

 

30 Interesting Examples Of Headers In Web Design

 

Headerlove: curated collection of headers design


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big city guide web ui design

Case Study: Big City Guide. Landing Page Design.

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

 

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

 

tubik ui designer

 

Task

 

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

 

Process

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Berlin big city guide ui

 

big city guide berlin tubik

 

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

 

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

 

Madrid big city guide ui

 

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

 

Big City Guide Madrid tubik

 

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

 

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

 

Stockholm big city guide ui

 

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

 

web ui design city guide

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Big City Guide animation tubik

 

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

 

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

 

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


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