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gamification in UX design

Gamification Mechanics in UX: Smart User Journey.

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

 

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

 

badges illustration tubik studio

PukaPal Badges

 

What’s user journey?

 

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

 

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

 

mobile app design tubik studio

Moneywise App

 

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

 

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

 

Stages of a user journey

 

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

 

Onboarding stage

 

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

 

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

 

tubik_toonie_help_screens_interaction

Toonie Alarm

 

Scaffolding stage

 

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

 

toonie alarm UI design

Toonie Alarm

 

Progress stage

 

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

 

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

 

blog app design tubik studio

Blog App

 

Endgame stage

 

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

 

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

 

Why a user journey?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Animated stickers mood messenger design tubik

Animated stickers for Mood Messenger

 

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

Recommended reading

 

Gamification by Interaction Design Foundation

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

Gamification in UX. Increasing User Engagement.

Gamification: Designing for Motivation


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

gourmet_herbs_website_design_tubik

Sell Like Hotcakes: UI Designs for E-Commerce.

In many cases when we are buying something, it’s not just about getting new things. It’s often about feeling and memories, dreams and achievements, changing ourselves inside and outside, sharing and giving, improving and learning… The advent of new technologies opened new perspectives for both shoppers and sellers, and the process of upgrading this type of relations is in active progress. A decade or two ago, buying something on the Internet was not included in a typical daily routine while now getting things and services in a couple of clicks cannot surprise anyone.

 

This state of things sets new challenges for the sellers, with efficient and appealing digital products for e-commerce ahead. “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful,” said Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, the biggest global online retailer. Today’s generation of shoppers is different in its vast majority: they are ready to buy almost everything online, they want to see the simple way to do it, they demand secure payment and fast delivery — and good design to present that all. That’s why websites and applications for e-commerce are so various: they have to attract their customers without getting lost in the ocean of the online competition. Well-designed user experience, based on research of the market and target audience as well as nice and effective visual performance, grows the chances of getting profits: in e-commerce sphere, the connection between design and profits is tighter than anywhere else.

 

Today we would like to offer you the set of interface concepts created by Tubik designers with the issue of e-commerce in mind. Here you’ll find the websites, mobile applications and landing pages aimed at selling products and services.

 

Website for a florist shop

 

web design florist store ecommerce

 

Flowers present the popular way to express various feelings and celebrate special occasions. Here’s the design concept for the online florist store: the general stylistic concept is light, minimalist and airy while prominent theme photos set the mood and inform users about the nature of the e-commerce offer. The home page sets the theme, establishes branding with the logo and slogan and shares some information about the service. The header gives the instant access to the extended menu of items hidden behind the hamburger button as well as provides the links to search, wishlist and shopping cart presented with minimalistic stroke icons. The footer includes the links to important service pages and accounts in social networks.

 

florist shop website design

 

Another page shows the catalog of items organized in cards: each presents the high-quality photo which is vital for this kind of business, price, and ability to add it to the cart or save to the wishlist right from the catalog page. There’s also the cloud of tags marking popular categories for better navigation.

 

florist shop website design

 

If the user wants to learn more about the particular offer, it can go to its product page, like the one shown above, and check the details.

 

Application for the e-commerce jewelry store

 

jewellery ecommerce app UI

 

Here’s a set of interactions for the app design concept of the online jewelry shop. The presented screens show the starting point of interaction with the app from the splash screen to the catalog showing categories of goods and special offers. The app provides theme photos setting the instant visual associations with the offered items while icons are stroke and minimalistic not to distract buyers’ attention. The color palette features pastel shades which look sophisticated on general layout full of light and air, and that feeling is supported with smooth and unobtrusive animation of the interface elements.

 

jewellery ecommerce app

 

The presented screens show the animated interactions with items: you can see how users can choose a product from the catalog, check its details and rating. They can also share the product cards to their social network accounts and open check out. Visually, the center of the visual composition is focused on the images presenting the items, while icons are stroke and minimalistic not to distract buyers’ attention.

 

Application for a cinema

 

cinema_app_ui_design_tubik

 

Despite the Internet, movie portals and super TV-sets we have in our homes, going to the cinema is still one of the most enjoyable and popular ways to spend free time either alone or together with friends and family. We follow the premiers, check the schedules, discuss acting and special effects afterward. And obviously, it is another perspective for e-commerce challenge. Here’s a sort of creative experiment — a mobile application for a cinema chain called Cinema App. The home screen shows the list of films presented with instantly recognizable posters. Tapping on the one among them, users see a screen of the particular film with all the necessary details: genre, trailer, description, rating, as well as the showings for the particular city for a particular date.

 

cinema app interaction ui animation

 

And this is the flow of choosing and booking the seat. Selecting a particular showing, users can see the available seats, choose the ones they like and book them, paying right from the app.

 

Landing page for dance academy

 

dance_academy_website_interactions_tubik

 

Here is the animated set of interactions for the landing page of the dance academy called HeartBeat. The elegant and minimalistic layout shows prominent theme images, gives short descriptions of the activities and links to core areas of information as well as provides the contact form to get in touch. The top section includes the horizontal slider which informs users about the upcoming workshops. Scrolling down, users can read brief descriptions about the academy and the types of classes it offers with buttons enabling to learn more, and they can use the simple contact form to get in touch. The designer was inspired by the photos of dancers by NYC Dance Project, Paul B. Goode, Andrew Eccles, Paul Kolnik, and rich animation of the dancers added a special experience to scrolling. This approach creates a sort of wow-effect to support aesthetic satisfaction which corresponds to the preferences of the target audience. This is the effective example of selling the original type of services with sophisticated design solutions and a good balance of beauty and simplicity.

 

Website for herbs and spices store

 

web design UI tubik studio

 

This is the design concept of The Gourmet, the online market for herbs, spices, seasonings and all that kind of stuff. Here you can see a product page presenting a particular item with the prominent theme image, description, price, and ability to add the item to the cart. The minimalist header provides the links to the core areas of the website while hamburger menu hides the extended catalog. Moreover, here designer tried a creative experiment: this concept applies design techniques traditional in e-commerce for fashion but the type of goods is very different – they are for eating and cooking.

 

Bookshop Website

 

online_bookshop_website_design_tubik

 

The famous author Stephen King once said: “Books are a uniquely portable magic” and numerous generations of readers prove it all the time. More and more people now use the Internet as the source to both learn about books and buy them. To support this direction of e-commerce, here’s the design concept for an online bookshop Book Pitch. The interface uses light and airy background and includes several theme blogs showing news, bestsellers, categories of items and reviews from readers. The visual presentation is strengthened with slight scroll animation.

 

bookshop website animation

 

Landing page for selling exhibition tickets

 

museum website

 

Although the sphere of art doesn’t look directly linked to e-commerce, the connection really exists: more and more users are buying and booking tickets online. Here’s the interface for this service — a landing page promoting an art exhibition. The idea behind it was to make this sort of informative promotion aesthetic and unobtrusive for the user as well as highly informative. It applies the horizontal scroll with the smooth animation of cards presenting key exhibits, shows the locations and dates and prominent call-to-action for buying a ticket.

 

Landing page for an online travel gear store

 

Travel Gear Landing page by TUBIK

 

Here is the layout of a landing page: the company presented by it sells gear for extreme sports and active traveling so images were selected to set immediate understanding of the main theme. The page includes the general description of the shop, presents the ability of transition to the catalog via the description of hot offers and also has testimonials part to provide users’ opinion about the service.

 

Website for a bakery

 

Bakery website design case study tubik

 

Another example the concept of a bakery website for which we presented the full design case study here before. Here is the animated version featuring interactions with the website: home page, catalog the f offers and the page presenting a particular position. The designer followed the philosophy of minimalism which is user-friendly, attractive and informative. Dark background supports the brand image with the idea of the elite and exclusive offer as well as set the ground for sophisticated presentation of the sold items.

 

Randomizer for the online furniture store

 

tubik studio design UI

 

Here’s the concept of a randomizer that allows users to choose between many options of designer chairs in this case. However, the idea can be applied to any e-commerce digital product. This is a helpful thing as usually we don’t know what we want until we see it. Minimal and bold color palette and prominent item images make the interface helpful and intuitive for users.

 

Landing page for online farm grocery

 

Landing Page Animation Tubik Studio

 

As a famous writer George Bernard Shaw once said, there is no sincerer love than the love of food. This one is a landing page whose aim is to promote the shop of organic food. It is composed of several blocks presenting the products, highlighting some important aspects of service, call to actions and testimonials.

 

Website for the fashionable clothes shop

 

fashion clothes ecommerce website

 

Another example of design for e-commerce presents the layout of a catalog page for the website of a company selling fashionable clothes for women. The header includes the links to the global categories of the clothes and the page features the fresh arrivals with photos on models, pricing, and brief item description.

 

Useful articles

 

If you want to go deeper into the theme of design for e-commerce and learn more about strategies, principles, terms and practical cases, this set of articles can be helpful

Hit the Spot: Design Strategies for Profitable Landing Pages.

UX Design for E-Commerce: Principles and Strategies.

Business-Oriented Design. Know Your Target.

Case Study: Vinny’s Bakery. UI Design for E-Commerce.

Short but Vital. Key Abbreviations in Design for Business.

Business Terms in Design for E-Commerce. Sales Basics

Landing Page. Direct Flight to High Conversion.

Case Study: Saily App. Designing C2C E-Commerce App.


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

Welcome to read or download free e-books about Design for Business and Problem-Solving Web Design

UI design for blog app

Gestalt Theory for Efficient UX: Principle of Similarity.

Many designers can boast of having creative intuition and 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 that 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?

 

In basic terms, 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 understanding 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 on which 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 sets 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 sets 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

bright_vibe_calendar_app_ui_tubik

Mobile Typography: 8 Steps Toward Powerful UI.

Mobile design heavily depends on every detail it consists of. Screens are quite small so designers need to choose elements thoughtfully trying not to overload user interface. Such a peculiarity makes typography creation for a mobile rather tough task. Mobile typography requires deep attention to the details from an appropriate kind of fonts to compelling tracking and alignment.

 

No matter how challenging it sounds, designers strive to build effective mobile design because smartphones are a huge part of our life. The article describes essential principles for compelling mobile typography.

 

tubikstudio ui app design

 

High level of legibility

 

Legibility is called a level of how distinguishable and recognizable the words and characters are in a text. The major objective of powerful typography is clear text which users perceive without efforts. Small screens and ambient light of mobile devices may become a problem on the way to creating legible typography. To avoid problems with legibility, designers need to consider all the factors influencing clarity of text.

 

Font size

 

In terms of mobile typography, the size does really matter. Some may think that on small screens tiny fonts will work best. It’s a misbelief. Small fonts on a bright mobile screen can make user’s eyes hurt from tension and bring a headache. Of course, modern devices allow screen zooming still it’s not always convenient for users to spare an unnecessary effort. Fonts in mobile UI should be big enough for users to read easily but not too big to save typographic hierarchy. The appropriate font size is a key to pleasing UX.

 

Leading

 

As we’ve mentioned in our previous article, leading is the spacing between the baselines of copy. In a mobile interface, leading is usually smaller compared to a desktop version. Wide leading may ruin the visual unity of text while too short space makes it badly legible. If a leading is done right, readers go fast from one text line to another and big pieces of copy become legible.

 

todo list UI app tubik studio

To-Do List App

 

Line length

 

To make body copy comfortable for reading in mobile interface, designers consider all the parameters including length of text lines. Optimal line length for a desktop screen won’t work same for mobile. Too long lines would go beyond screen borders, that is why designers are recommended to keep the number of character per line within 30-40.

 

White space

 

When design elements are tightly gathered in a bunch, the user interface looks messy and navigation is rather difficult. Designers need to give elements space to breathe bringing a relief to users’ eyes and mind. The size of mobile screens doesn’t allow using much of white space that’s why a balance between the elements has to be found.

 

UI animation wine app

Wine Year App

 

Fewer levels of hierarchy

 

Visual hierarchy is applied to organize content in interfaces clearly so that users could distinguish layout objects on the basis of their physical differences, such as size, color, contrast, alignment etc. Hierarchy divides content into levels assisting users to learn copy content gradually step by step without effort and get oriented in the digital product.

 

Web design usually contains three levels of copy content which include such elements as headings, subheaders, body copy, CTA buttons, and captions. However, small mobile screens don’t provide enough space for three levels, so designers apply only two. Elements of a secondary level such as subheaders step aside to make UI look clean.

 

mobile app design tubik studio

Moneywise App

 

Simplicity of fonts

 

A key feature of effective mobile UI is simplicity. Design should be clear and the navigation easy to use, so font choices have to be based on the requirements. First of all, it is recommended to keep a number of fonts within two or three to make text look solid. Designers often stop their choice on two types of fonts for mobile interfaces because it requires fewer levels of hierarchy than web design.

 

Moreover, kinds of fonts should also fit a simple and clean style. Novelty and decorative fonts may look illegible on small screens. Designers regularly combine a serif and a sans-serif fonts to create enough contrast of copy elements in the layout. In addition, it’s good to reduce effects like a shadow for mobile fonts. On desktop screens, they may work nice but will make small mobile screens look overloaded.

 

book swap app interaction design

Book Swap Interactions

 

Delicate contrast

 

Contrast is an efficient tool for designers. It helps highlight vital UI elements as well as contribute a desirable level of text legibility. However, speaking of mobile interfaces, contrast may play a bad joke. Small screens, ambient light, and short fonts make a contrast image look unpleasant for users’ eyes. Reducing contrast between the background and copy elements, designers help users feel comfortable while reading text on a mobile screen.

 

Contrast can be created not only via colors but with sizes of fonts to set visual hierarchy. Nevertheless, mobile interfaces are short of space for giant headings, that’s why size contrast should be also reduced.

 

jewellery ecommerce app

Jewellery E-Commerce App

 

Responsive typography

 

People surf the Internet via all devices available today. That’s why responsive design is a key condition for a successful digital product. Typography is a vital part of design responsiveness. Wrong size, width, and placement of fonts have a big impact on a whole composition. Even the most insignificant changes may break the balance between all design elements.

 

Creating typography for a digital product, designers need to consider how it will look on different devices. Planning such things forehead helps to avoid unnecessary problems in the future.

 

cinema app interaction ui animation

Cinema App

 

Prioritized content

 

To make mobile interfaces simple and useful, designers need to take care of the wise content organization. Users want to have a fast access to information they are looking for and mobile screens can make the process complicated.

 

Mobile UI has no room for unnecessary copy elements. There should be only essential content thoughtfully prioritized. Based on users’ needs and preferences, designers set a structure assisting people to navigate within the product and find what they are searching for. Text elements are prioritized by size changes as well as different width or kind of font.

 

tubik_studio_book_swap

Book App

 

Clear text rags

 

Depending on the type of a product, designers apply appropriate alignment for text blocks. It can be placed on the left, on the right, centrally or it can be justified. However, speaking of mobile design many experts often stop their choice on left side alignment. This kind forms text where the beginning of each line is placed equally and the rags look similar to stairways. Such a structure helps users easily go from one text line to another and scan text fast and easily. If body copy alignment is justified (text lines placed equally), it has no rags either side. The text with such structure is difficult to scan on a mobile screen.

 

tubik studio healthy food animation

Healthy Food App

 

Functional typography

 

While computer users do the clicks and scrolling to interact with products, mobile screens should provide much more functionality. There are many text elements in mobile interfaces that allow users to accomplish certain actions like buying a product, making a call, going to a website and others.

 

Designers need to make sure users understand how the text elements work and enable them to complete the actions. Functional typography should be highlighted among the other and clickable elements should be big enough to tap on them.

 

menu_interactions_ui_animation_tubik

Menu Interactions

 

Things to jot down

 

Minimalism. Mobile screens are short of space, so try not to overload it. Simple fonts, clean style, and a minimum of elements will do their job.

Test the smallest first. Mobile devices have various sizes but the biggest problem is the smallest. Create your design based on how it will look on the tiny screens first. When it’s ready, you can easily adapt it for the bigger sizes.

Avoid decorative and cursive fonts. They don’t render properly on the small screens. Moreover, decorative fonts overload interface with unnecessary details.

Legibility first. Of course, it’s good to make beautiful catchy UI but sometimes all the colors, contrast, original fonts may hurt the legibility of copy content. A good looking text is not enough. Make sure it is legible otherwise users won’t be able to read information and use your product properly.
jewellery ecommerce app UI

Jewellery App

 

Every mobile UI design project is an interesting challenge. Meet it with the knowledge and the results will please you.

 

Recommended reading

 

Meaningful Mobile Typography by UXPin group

 

Mobile UI Design: 15 Basic Types of Screens.

 

7 Simple Rules for Mobile Typography

 

Typography in UI: Guide for Beginners


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typography tips for designers

8 Typography Tips For Designers: How to Make Fonts Speak.

Typography is a way of communication with users. Visual performance and readability of copy in digital products have the great impact on user experience. One of guru graphic designers, Hoon Kim, once said: » Typographic design is visible as well as audible. If you have a great scenario, now it is time to cast good actors.» Typography can become a voice of design. Appropriate typography speaks for itself setting the right mood and transferring a certain message to users. Today’s article presents tips which will assist you in creating of effective typography.

 

Typographic hierarchy makes things work

 

To create a design pleasant for users’ perception, all its elements should be well organized and clear to navigate. Designers set a proper structure by establishing a visual hierarchy. It organizes all the visual elements so that users could easily perceive content.

 

Visual hierarchy can be divided into different parts. One of them relates only to the copy elements is called typographic hierarchy. It aims at organizing copy content by dividing it into various types such as headings, subheadings, body copy, captions and others. The differences between the types of copy are set by regulation of family, sizes, width, and colors of fonts.

 

Clear typographic hierarchy makes text legible and easy to scan. Moreover, it’s simple to highlight key parts of the text to draw users’ attention and hitch them to the expected actions.

 

mood messenger landing page

Mood Messenger Landing Page

 

Consider context and audience

 

When it comes to the choice of fonts, an essential thing to consider is a context of a copy and a potential audience. Each font brings its own mood to a layout. There are friendly, funny, serious, business, and many other fonts that will fit a certain design.

 

Before you choose a font, you need to learn your client’s goals as well as needs and preferences of a target audience. Visual performance of fonts influences the first impression users get from the product. If the kind of font doesn’t fit the mood which the product aims at, there can be a misunderstanding with the audience. For example, if a designer chooses a font which looks too fun and silly for a business website, users will hesitate if the company is trustworthy. Or, if a product is meant for youngsters, too formal fonts may seem boring.

 

web design florist store ecommerce

Florist E-Commerce Website

 

Deep attention to mobile typography

 

Designers often do the experiments with typography to make a project original. However, when it comes to mobile UI design, typographers are literally short of space. Mobile screens are quite small which sets a new challenge for designers to cope with restrictions without loss of sense and functionality. Mobile typography requires deep attention to the details from an appropriate size of fonts to compelling tracking and line length.

 

Compared to web design, mobile typography is harder to reach a good legibility. The font size shouldn’t be too small because on tiny screens it will look like an illegible mess. Moreover, if the text is too big, it won’t fit the small screen too. In addition, designers need to care about the level of contrast since a screen with ambient light and high contrast can hurt users’ eyes.

 

Furthermore, a designer should think of the typography functionality. Smartphone UI includes clickable text parts and designers need to make sure users manage to use them. If these parts are too small, people can’t press it with a finger and it’s rather annoying.

 

Considering all the tiny details in mobile typography, designers can bring valuable products for users.

 

UI animation wine app

WineYard App

 

Minimalism can’t hurt

 

Sometimes, when designers aim at showing all the facets of a digital product, they try to use lots of various styles and fonts all in a single design. As a result, they get a design overloaded with unnecessary distracting details and lacking a proper mood.

 

Experts usually try to keep a number of fonts within two or three for the same layout. It allows making an essential contrast between copy elements along with saving the balance and right message of a design. Applying different styles (bold, italic) should also be minimal. They are good for emphasizing really important parts but the overuse of them can make the text look messy.

 

Also, copy content shouldn’t overwhelm users with the unnecessary information. Of course, it’s a writer’s job to create appropriate text still designers need to collaborate with them to make sure the text will fit a design.

 

upper app UI design case study

Upper App

 

Text needs to breath

 

Legibility level highly relies on how much space there is between letters, words, and text lines. Tracking, kerning and leading are the processes of white space adjustment between the typographic elements. White space is the area between elements in a design composition.

 

A lack of white space may end in the bad legibility of copy content because it is difficult to distinguish words which are placed too tight to each other. Appropriate white space brings a visual relief to users’ eyes and allows going easily from one word to another, from one line to the next. However, try not to overuse it otherwise it can ruin text unity.

 

dance_academy_website_interactions_tubik

Dance Academy landing page

 

Build typography like a scientist, revise like an artist

 

Typography is a complex science consisting of many rules and regulations. Those who covered them are able to create clean working typography. However, it’s is not enough. Clients always require originality and emotion but it can’t be done only by following the written instruction.

 

Designers should never bury their artistic souls. Imagination and the sense of beauty bring the uniqueness in any project, even the most casual one. Find the balance between the strict rules and unordinary choices, and the results may surprise you and your customers.

 

web design UI tubik studio

The Gourmet Website

 

Colorful typography needs thoughtfulness

 

The topic is actively debated. Some think there is no room for color in typography and some claim it’s a must-have for good-looking design. There is no point in looking for the right side of the dispute because there is no accounting for taste. Nevertheless, colorful typography does exist and designers apply it quite often.

 

Among the advantages of colorful typography, let’s mention the element of emotion it adds to any UI as well as the ability to highlight points of interests for users. Moreover, each color may transfer a certain message since it has an influence on users’ mind and behavior.

 

To take all the benefits, colorful typography should be applied thoughtfully and carefully because it’s easy to turn UI into a colorful chaos. Here is the useful checklist for this case:

 

Make it contrast. A big problem which colorful typography may bring is bad legibility. Proper contrast between the fonts and background will help to avoid it. However, make sure the contrast looks pleasant and doesn’t hurt the eyes.
 
Don’t use too many colors. Again, try not to turn UI into a mess. Too many colors look distractive and amateur.
 
Color harmony. Remember the basics of art lessons. Use the color wheel and schemes to choose the proper palette.
 
Be careful with effects. Fluorescent, luminescent, metallic, and glowing colors have their peculiarities and they may not always look good on a digital screen.

 

book swap app interaction design

Book Swap App

 

Learn the basics of typography

 

It may sound too obvious still some designers ignore learning basics of typography science. They rely on modern tools which automatically choose the fonts or just hope aesthetic features of chosen fonts would be enough. Such an approach seems like learning to read without knowledge of the alphabet.

 

Designers who don’t know the concepts and the anatomy of typefaces can’t use the potential of typography at the full strength. Everyone decides for oneself if they need to learn the science in depth but the basics is a foundation of every craft.

 

The experts working on the problem of harmonical usage of fonts gladly share their knowledge that’s why there are so many useful books on typography for designers. As the recommended reading we can name

 

tubik typography and design books

 

Recommended reading

 

Here are some articles providing useful tips and tricks in typography.

Do’s and Don’Ts of Typography

The 8 biggest typography mistakes designers make

10 typography tricks every designer should know

Typography in UI: Guide for Beginners.

Tips on Applying Copy Content in User Interfaces


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dance academy landing page design

Hit the Spot: Design Strategies for Profitable Landing Pages.

Every traveler knows it’s hard to find more annoying and upsetting experience than landing in the wrong place. It wastes the precious time and effort on looking for the needed spot right when you are full of nice expectations and ready for the best. No wonder, this story isn’t different when users go to the virtual journey around the Internet, especially having particular goals and destinations in mind. So, today let’s discuss how to make their landing soft and effective.

 

Definition of a landing page

 

In general terms, the phrase «landing page» was created by analogy with a landing spot in the physical world: in the web, it initially marked any page on which the user «landed» while surfing the Net and started their journey around the website. The phrase is still used in this meaning in terms of web analytics. However, more specific understanding of this term has become increasingly popular and widely used by not only designers but also marketing specialists. Today the term is used for a web page designed with a focus on specific relatively narrow goal and a quick way of accomplishing a particular action.

 

As for the goals, they can be different, still, the biggest diversity of landings is found in e-commerce sphere. This is the field in which they play the great role both for users and stakeholders, presenting the specific commercial offers without distraction in a helpful and attractive way. Creating special pages for every case means giving users directions, which is especially useful for big e-commerce platforms with hundreds or even thousands of items. Directing all the traffic to the home page in the case of such websites can open the big gate to poor user experience, especially when users come from particular marketing campaigns in outer resources. The risk is high that they will get lost immediately in the overwhelming amount of content and links on the home page or their attention will be driven away so the purchase won’t be finalized.

 

Furthermore, there are also many other cases beyond e-commerce when landing pages present a good point to consider: they can present the mobile applications or educational resources, promote events and meetings, make the announcements, introduce the communities or just share information. Anyway, the design process for any landing page starts from setting the clear and concise aim which should be achieved with its help.

 

tubikstudio ui design dark background

 

Conversion as a key metric

 

One of the core characteristics measuring the efficiency of a landing page is conversion. In basic terms, it is the outcome, the achieved goal which is set for the landing page. Conversion is the transformation of passive users into active, from reading, considering, watching and comparing to actual buying, downloading, trying, subscribing etc. Measuring conversions and improving landing pages to get this rate higher is the way to problem-solving design helping users and supporting business strategies.

 

As e-commerce presents the highest diversity of landing pages now, the most frequent way of conversion is the actual purchase while the most popular call to action is «Buy». However, the presence of the Internet in human life is growing constantly an plays a significant part in daily operations on professional and personal levels. On that ground, the variety of conversions also reflects diverse goals — except buying something, users can be called to:

 

— download the mobile application

— read more about the presented issue

— subscribe to updates

— download a free ebook, templates, graphics or other deliverables

— start the free or discounted trial of the product

— leave the comment or share the opinion

— share the information with friends and followers in social networks

— browse the educational or informational resource

— fill in the form or survey etc.

 

Obviously, conversion as the finalized action the user is navigated to is not the only function of a landing page: it is also effective as a general supporter of brand awareness and recognizability, due to the original design or special features it can even be a part of viral marketing campaign. Still, the most important outcome of all the effort invested into its creation and maintenance is ultimately measured via conversion rate, with the number of users who actually did the action they were called to.

 

UX design process tubik

 

Design strategies

 

No doubt, all the design projects are highly individual and require solutions based on the specific case. Nevertheless, on the basis of our diverse creative practice, we have collected the set of general ideas useful for work on efficient landing pages.

 

Clear goal and structure

 

The core difference between the home page of a website and the landing page with the specific offer is in their strategic use. The home page sets the global point of departure enabling the user to take a variety of routes around the website, while the landing page is focused on one particular aim which should be effectively presented and easily achievable. Therefore, the first step at designing converting page is setting this particular goal and building the page architecture which will navigate the users to the ways of achieving it.

 

Targeting

 

In the article about business-oriented design, we defined targeting as the strategy and techniques of researching the particular target audience to find the best and the shortest ways to attract their attention to the specific product or offer.  A landing page is the effective marketing tool when it’s based on the needs, preferences, and expectations of the target audience. Even more, these web pages allow companies to set multiple landing spots for various target users on the basis of:

— geographic targeting

— gender targeting

— psychographic targeting

— demographic targeting

— behavioral targeting.

 

There are many practical cases when companies changed some parts of the products, their names or even set the new brands to sell successfully in different countries with the diverse cultural background. The same can be done with landing pages:  for example, the page offering the same smartphone can look and talk differently to the users from different countries, taking into account their perception of colors, copy, priorities in product features and trends on the local markets.

 

gym landing page concept by Tubik

Gym Landing Page

 

Functional minimalism

Getting back to the metaphor with the physical landing of an aircraft, it’s hard to imagine how it could safely land on the place which is heavily stuffed. For soft landing, a clear spacious spot is a vital condition. For landing page, it works the same way: attempts to overload it with everything bring to a negative result. In most cases, minimalist design based on core functionality and visual elements easily navigating the user to the CTA proves itself a good approach.

 

Maximum attention ratio

Attention ratio is the level of concentration on a particular task or goal. No need to explain that for a landing page is should be as high as possible. Too many elements of interaction will provoke distraction lowering the chances of conversion: the more options users have simultaneously, the harder it is to make the choice.

 

Instantly visible call-to-action elements

CTA or call-to-action element presents the most valuable interaction element of a landing page as it is actually the spot where conversion happens. It should be instantly visible, which can be done via color or shape contrast, and informative, which is usually achieved with proper copy or icon, or both.

Tubik studio UI animation

Museu landing page 

 

Harmonic color palette

Colors and shades chosen for a landing page are not objects of designer’s creative self-expression: they are as much influencing the conversion rate as any other design element and sometimes even more than others. It’s not just aesthetic satisfaction which users can feel seeing the presentation but also the hidden message which can be transferred via traditional associations in color perception. So, colors should present the combination pleasant for user’s eye, emotionally appealing for the target audience and establishing the effective visual hierarchy of the layout.

 

Corresponding typography and good readability

As well as colors, fonts also tell much not only with the copy hidden behind them but also with associations and emotions they bring out. Typographic hierarchy and well-balanced font combinations have a big impact on the readability of the page which can directly influence the conversion rate. Landing page is not the spot on which users are ready to spend much time so poor readability can drive them away before they make a decision or understand if the offer corresponds to their needs. Being an integral part of the general stylistic concept, appropriate fonts can also contribute much into effective visual performance catching users’ attention.

 

Strong and consistent branding

Landing pages are widely used as the part of web marketing strategy so they should support the general scheme of brand promotion. Coming from outer resources, social networks, advertisements, users need to feel and see the consistency of brand image to be ready to trust it. So, identity elements like logo, slogan, mascots, corporate fonts and colors should be taken into account.

website design for photographers

Photography Workshops landing page

 

Prominent theme image

No secret, most users are visually driven and they scan the web page in a couple of seconds perceiving images much faster than copy. An appropriate theme image, be it a hero banner, original illustration, high-quality photo presenting a product or service, is a good way to attract users and get them interested as well as inform about the nature of the promoted offer. Images of this kind save users’ time, send them a quick and appealing message and add much into aesthetic side of the presentation.

 

Engaging and attractive scroll animation

Although there is a big army of those who find animation an unnecessary feature overloading user interface and making it more complicated, most users expect motion as an integral part of interaction experience. Scroll animation applied wisely can add life and style to the landing page and become another attractive feature stimulating positive emotions. Also, motion creates the feeling of one integral smooth interaction with a whole page rather than several separate parts. 

 

dance academy landing page animation

Dance Academy landing page

 

Visual hierarchy of copy content

Copy content is another aspect which has to be well-thought. A designer’s task here is to think about edible copy presentation framed into a clear visual hierarchy: sizes and placement of copy blocks, instantly scanned headlines and short concise call-to-action elements directly influence the level of conversions. The length of copy on landing pages is a debatable issue: focused goals behind the landing page doesn’t always mean that each time it should contain a minimal number of words. If it presents a famous company product or service or informs about special offers, short and strong copy can be enough to encourage users. However, if a new unknown product or service is presented, it is often useful to provide users with more information persuading them to follow the call to action. Anyway, the presentation of the copy has to be designed for good readability and scannability of the page.

 

No information overloading

Based on the previous points, creative team working on a landing page — designers, copywriters, marketing specialists etc. — should agree upon the priorities and define the core benefits users must see. Trying to overload the page with all the possible data about the offer, you risk overwhelming them so much that they can start hesitating or even get annoyed. Core information fields included in the landing page usually cover:

— the general introduction of the presented offer

— concise and informative description of the benefits solving user’s problems

— testimonials and signs of trust

— clear call to action.

 

If the offer is quite complex and it’s hard to describe all its benefits shortly, the good solution can be found in dividing the page into several theme blocks with separate interactive elements ( buttons, fields, links etc) enabling users to get further information or help quickly but on the other page.

landing page animation Tubik studio

magic.co landing page

 

Promotional video

In one of our recent posts, we have given insights on the benefits of short promotional videos for the presentation of products and services. The big advantage of this technique is the high speed of perception, emotional feedback and big informative potential of the video in comparison with copy. On the other hand, creating the video can be more time-consuming and require the bigger budget, so the efficiency of this element should be analyzed in business perspective to see if it’s really profitable for every particular case. 

 

High loading speed

None of the mentioned strategies will work properly if technical side of the interaction is neglected. Whatever stylish, sophisticated and informative is the landing page, it won’t make users put up with waiting while it’s loading. The matter here is really in short seconds, without any exaggeration. So, optimization of the images, thoughtful technical realization of motion effects, quickly loading video and fast transitions if they are applied — all of these and similar factors can have a crucial effect on conversion rates. Respect the users’ time otherwise they won’t be quick to trust you.

 

free design books landing page

Tubik Magazine landing page

 

Obviously, the presented list doesn’t mean that all the mentioned strategies should be applied together on every page. Each project demands individual approach based on rigorous analysis of the target user expectations, needs, and preferences combined with business goals. When the page is live, A/B testing and analysis of real interactions open the new perspectives and prove if designer’s initial decisions were appropriate for the established aim.

 

Landing page vs Home page

 

Should all the traffic from outer sources be directed to a home page or landing pages? We have already shared our ideas with the set of strategies for home page design. The answer considerably depends on the nature and complexity of the website. The issue to consider is the user attention and its concentration on definite areas of the websites in terms of solving a particular problem or satisfying particular needs.

 

For simple one-page websites this question is not actual: indeed, they represent only a home page which satisfies one or multiple functions and there is no other place where the traffic could be directed from the outer sources. The same happens if the website is not complex, home page in not overloaded with diverse links and navigation elements, so conversion can be reached right from the home page while other pages play secondary roles. In this case directing all the traffic to the most informative part of the site, which also enables a user to accomplish necessary action and get what they need, is a good idea.

 

However, for complex websites and platforms, especially if they satisfy multiple needs of broad target audience, this approach can be the step killing profitability and reducing conversion rates. The user can get scared, distracted or even annoyed with the tons of information they have to get through to find what they need, especially if the needs or wishes are focused on a particular narrow goal. Using landing pages in the case when you need to concentrate user’s attention on something important, to make it noticeable and easily available can be the efficient way of solving this problem. A landing page is a tool to emphasize one item, to make it quickly found and reduce delays in cases when target user seeks for specific operations, services or items. This is the issue of especially high importance in the case of e-commerce websites when unwise design solutions bring to poor user experience and financial losses. The choice of a profitable approach in every case should be based on user research and then thorough user testing.

 

big city guide web ui design

Big City Guide landing page

 

Recommended materials

 

Diverse issues of applying landing pages have been an object of professionals’ attention. In terms of design issues, here’s the bunch of articles for those who would like to continue the topic exploration:

 

Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions

 

Landing Page Conversion Course (9 parts)

 

Classic landing page mistakes you’re probably still making

 

Landing Page. Direct Flight to High Conversion.

 

The ultimate guide to designing landing pages that convert

 

What Happens When You Analyze 100 Landing Page Examples?

 

10 Key Landing Page Features That Draw in Prospects

 

7 Landing Page Call-to-Action Formulas for Higher Conversions

 

Want Conversions? Start with User-Friendly, Useful Landing Pages


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Welcome to read or download free e-books about Design for Business and Problem-Solving Web Design

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

typography in UI design web mobile

Typography in UI: Guide for Beginners.

People read all the time. It’s not only books or magazines but various info on the Internet, adverts in the streets, in public transport or outside shops. However, only minority of readers may know how much time and effort often stand behind a single line. When we easily read a copy feeling comfortable and relaxed, many thanks go to a designer. Text arrangement and the aesthetic look of fonts are among designers’ top priorities. To create effective UI and clear UX designers learn basics of typography science. Today’s article covers basic points in typography which every professional designer should comprehend and apply in work.

 

What’s typography?

 

Typography is something bigger than just a design technique. A Canadian typographer, Robert Bringhurst, in his book The Elements of Typographic Style defines typography as the craft of endowing human language with a durable visual form. In addition, typography transforms language into a decorative visual element.

 

Typography has a much longer history than the design or the Internet itself. First, it appeared approximately in the 11-12 centuries when people invented movable type system. A real typography revolution started after the Gutenberg Bible, the first major book printed via movable metal type, which marked the beginning of the age of the printed book in the West. The style of type used in Gutenberg Bible is now known as Textualis (Textura) and Schwabacher.

 

Nowadays, it is more than just copy printing and organization. Commonly, typography is defined as the art and science of font style, appearance, and structure which aims at delivering the aesthetic and easily readable copy to readers. Not that long ago, it was a specialized study for editorial office workers but now the science is applied in different spheres and plays a significant role in design.

 

The role of typography in design

 

Can you think of at least one example of web or mobile design without copy elements? It’s difficult, right? Still, just a presence of copy in the interface is not enough for effective UI and positive UX. Copy and its appearance should be well-thought otherwise it may spoil the design. There are designers who ignore typography studies because they think it’s too difficult to understand so it isn’t worth spending much time. However, typography is an essential part of the effective design. Let’s see why.

 

People got used to receiving the majority of information in text form and designers need to make this process easy and productive. The basic knowledge of typography can help to comprehend the peculiarities of font visual presentation and its influence on users perception.

 

The effective copy is a key to the powerful design. Its effectiveness depends not only on its content but also on how it is presented. Font size, width, color, and text structure — all of that matter. Designers can transfer certain mood or message by choosing appropriate fonts and the ways of their presentation. This way typography helps design to communicate with people. Visual performance and readability of copy in digital products have the great impact on user experience. If fonts are badly legible, people can face problems with navigation or even worse can’t use it at all. Today poor user experience in digital products is unforgiven since users can easily find the better alternative.

 

In addition, bad typography significantly affects the first impression because even when users don’t read copy, they scan it. In case fonts look inappropriate people may not want to learn about your offer or use your product.

 

home page design strategy

 

Essential typography elements

 

To create profound typography, you need to learn its anatomy and the processes typography building requires. Let’s see.

 

Font and Typeface

 

Nowadays, many designers use terms “font” and “typeface” as the synonyms but that’s not quite right. Let’s straighten it out. A typeface is a style of type design which includes a complete scope of characters in all sizes and weight. On the other hand, a font is a graphical representation of text character usually introduced in one particular typeface, size, and weight. In other words, a typeface is something like a family and fonts are parts of it. These two are the main objects which designers and typographers change and transform to create readable and aesthetic typography. More about typeface styles will be presented here soon for our readers.

 

Mean line and baseline

 

Typically, type characters are placed in a straight line creating a neat visual presentation. Main tools assisting designers in the process are mean line and baseline. The first marks the top and the other bottom of a character body. Such lines allow creating fonts even. Of course, the lines are invisible in interfaces after designers finish their work.

 

tubik typography baseline

 

Character measurement (size, weight, and height)

 

To separate different types of information and highlight the vital points, designers apply fonts in different weight and size. The type weight is a measurement of how thick type character is. The sizes are usually measured in inches, millimeters, or pixels. The height of the character is also called “x-height” because the body of every character in one size is based on the letter “x”. This approach makes them look even. It’s easy to segregate copy elements such as heading, sub-heading and body copy by varying these parameters.

 

tubik typography x_height

 

Ascender and Descender

 

The ascender is a part of a letter that goes above the mean line like in a letter “b” or “d”. The descender is opposite to ascender. It’s a segment that extends below the baseline like in “q” or “g”.

 

tubik typography ascender

 

White space

 

White space, also known as negative space, is the area between elements in a design composition. Readers aren’t usually aware of the great role of the space, but designers pay a lot of attention to it. In case the white space is not balanced, copy will be hard to read. That’s why negative space matters as much as any other typography element.

 

tubik_typography_whitespace

 

Alignment

 

Creating effective typography is not that easy and it includes many processes. For example, alignment is an action of placing and justifying text. During the stage, designers aim at transforming randomly placed pieces of text into one unified composition.

 

tubik_typography_alignment

 

Tracking

 

The process of tracking involves adjustment of space for a group of type characters which form a word and text block. A designer set appropriate spacing for all letters, making copy feel airy and pleasant to the eye. The effective tracking makes letters in a word easily readable.

 

tubik_typography_tracking

 

Kerning

 

Kerning is a bit similar to tracking still they aren’t the same. Tracking means is spacing between all the characters of font while kerning is the process of adjusting the space between two type characters. It is usually applied for individual cases when a designer decides to change the spacing between two specific letters to make it feel more natural.

 

tubik_typography_kerning

 

Leading

 

Leading is the spacing between the baselines of copy. The appropriate leading helps readers easily go from one text line to another and makes big pieces of text legible. In design, the standard leading is 120% the point size of the font still it can vary according to the typeface peculiarities.

 

tubik_typography_leading

 

Typographic hierarchy

 

As any other design element, typography should be structured. Typographic hierarchy is a system that organizes copy content in the best way for users’ perception first of all via modifications and the combination of typefaces and fonts. It is aimed at creating the contrast between the most meaningful and prominent copy elements which should be noticed first and ordinary text information. The contrast is created by regulating typography elements including typefaces, fonts, sizes, and colors as well as their alignment.

 

web design UI tubik studio

The Gourmet Website

 

Typographic hierarchy is presented with common types of copy content used in UI design. They are headlines, subheaders, body copy, call-to-action elements, captions, and others. These copy elements create distinct layers in design: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

 

The primary level of copy content includes the biggest type like in headlines. It strives at drawing user’s attention to the product. The secondary level consists of copy elements which can be easily scanned. Those are subheaders and captions which allow users quickly navigate through the content. And the tertiary level of typography includes body text and the other information. It is often presented with the small type still it should be readable enough.The typography layers assist users to learn copy content gradually step by step without effort and get oriented in the digital product.

 

web design UI concept tubik studio

The Big Landscape

 

Typography cannot be learned in one day. It requires constant studying and persistence. Follow Tubik blog updates and learn more about typography in design.

 

Recommended reading

 

Robert Bringhurst “The Elements of Typographic Style Paperback”

 

Erik Spiekermann “FontBook”

 

Simon Garfield “Just My Type: A Book About Fonts”

 

Tips on Applying Copy Content in User Interfaces

 

Every Design Needs Three Levels of Typographic Hierarchy


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