Tag Archives: ux/ui

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

visual hierarchy in UI design

Visual Hierarchy: Effective UI Content Organization.

Henry Adams once said: “Chaos was the law of nature and order was the dream of man”. People always favor the order because it makes things more comprehensible. The same works with user interfaces of digital products. When UI elements are organized and structured, people can easily use an app or a website and feel satisfied with a product.

 

To organize content in UI clearly for users, designers apply a well-known technique called visual hierarchy. Today’s article gives a general insight into the essence of this approach and the tools helping to organize the content properly.

 

What’s visual hierarchy?

 

Visual hierarchy is one of the core techniques which are applied to the design process. It is initially based on Gestalt psychological theory which examines users’ visual perception of elements in relation to each other and shows how people tend to unify the visual elements into groups.

 

Visual hierarchy strives at presenting the content of a product that way so users could comprehend the level of importance for each element. It organizes UI components so that the brain could distinguish the objects on the basis of their physical differences, such as size, color, contrast, style etc.

 

The visual presentation of UI elements has great influence on user experience of a product. If content components look like a mess, people can’t navigate within a product or interact with it properly. Moreover, unstructured copy content has a low level of legibility, so users can’t scan it quickly and they need to make a significant effort to distinguish the data they’ve been looking for. Such bad UX can lead to poor user satisfaction which means a product wouldn’t be much sought-after.

 

tubik_studio_structure

 

Typographic hierarchy

 

Copy content is a significant part of any UI design. That’s why visual hierarchy often highly depends on typography. Specialists decided to emphasize the importance of copy presentation by creating a separate system of visual hierarchy called typographic hierarchy.

 

The system aims at organizing copy content in the best way for users’ perception. Designers modify and combine fonts to build the contrast between the most meaningful and prominent copy elements which should be noticed first and ordinary text information. The fonts are modified by regulating sizes, colors, and families as well as their alignment.

 

Typographic hierarchy includes different elements of copy content which are headlines, subheaders, body copy, call-to-action elements, captions, and some others. To build effective visual hierarchy, all the elements need to be segmented into different levels. Let’s see what they are.

 

The primary level. It includes the biggest type like in headlines. The primary level aims at providing users with the core information as well as drawing people’s attention to a product.

 

The secondary level. This is the type of copy elements which should be easily scanned. They usually involve subheaders and captions which help users quickly navigate through the content.

 

The tertiary level. Body text and some additional data build the tertiary level. Designers often apply relatively small type still it should remain readable enough.

 

As the copy content is usually a major source of information in UI, designers need to present the data gradually. By segmenting copy elements into different levels designers help users easily go from one piece of copy to the other and perceive the information in the right order.

 

One more thing to mention is that while creating typography for mobile products, designers are recommended to keep the number of layers within two. The thing is that small mobile screens don’t provide enough space for three levels. That is why the elements of a secondary level such as subheaders step aside to make mobile UI look clean.

 

Bakery website design case study tubik

 

Visual hierarchy tools

 

When designers have already chosen all the content components, it’s time to create an order. Let’s find out what helps designers to set the effective visual hierarchy of UI components.

 

Size

 

One of the most powerful tools for visual material transformation is size. It is rooted in human’s mind that big things are somehow more important than the small ones. That’s why users’ attention automatically goes first to the large words or big pictures.
Designers need to distinguish the level of significance for each content element and based on this data transform the components into big and small.

 

Color

 

In our previous articles, we’ve mentioned that color has a great impact on the users’ perception the reason why it serves as an effective tool for visual hierarchy creation.

 

Colors have their own hierarchy which is defined by the power of influence on users’ mind. There are bold colors such as red, orange, and black which can easily draw attention. On the other hand, there are weak, or soft, colors like white and cream which work better as the background.

 

Using the different colors designers can support a slight hierarchy of the UI elements. For example, CTA buttons in bold colors will definitely be the first thing that users see if the other UI elements are created in a softer palette.

 

Contrast

 

Hierarchy is based on contrast itself. One element contrasts with the other and that’s how users can see the differences between the content elements. Contrast can be created via visual differences including size, color, and style. Still, it’s recommended to keep the contrast in balance so that one object wouldn’t completely obscure the others.

 

Negative space

 

There can be many components in a user interface and to make them all noticeable for users’ eyes designers need to give them some private space. Negative space, or white space, is the area between elements in a design composition. Some designers usually don’t think of the white space as a component of design still the experts apply it as a useful tool helping to build an appropriate composition. A right amount of negative space between the elements will help users to notice and perceive each of them to each of them.

 

Proximity

 

As we said above, visual hierarchy is built upon Gestalt principles, so designers pay deep attention to the proximity of UI elements. As people tend to unify the visual elements into groups, UI components need to be placed that way so users could categorize them. If some elements are placed in certain proximity, users automatically perceive them as a group. Designers can use proximity as a tool which helps to divide the content into subcategories.

 

Repetition

 

If people notice that some elements look similar, they may automatically unify them into one group. That’s how repetition works. Designers repeat some patterns for different objects on purpose so that users could unify them. For example, a website with a great amount of body copy at a page can highlight the most important sentences with another color. Seeing the sentences in this color users can follow from one key point to another.

 

Visual hierarchy is a foundation of the effective information architecture. When UI elements are structured and organized, people enjoy using a product and it will be more effective in solving their problems. Moreover, powerful visual hierarchy improves the navigation system since people can better orient within a product. Stay tuned and be ready for the next article about visual hierarchy.

dance_academy_website_interactions_tubik

Recommended reading

 

Tips on Applying Copy Content in User Interfaces

Information Architecture. Basics for Designers.

Information Architecture: Effective Techniques For Designers.

Gestalt Theory for Efficient UX: Principle of Similarity.

Gestalt Theory for UX Design: Principle of Proximity.


Welcome to see the 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

mood boards in UI design tubik article

Design Mood. 7 Motives to Create Mood Boards.

Just imagine you worked hard, spent plenty of time creating a detailed prototype, and then a client rejected it saying that it isn’t even close to what he wanted. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Every designer at least once has been through such an unpleasant situation. Probably right now everyone expects some relevant advice how to avoid this kind of situations but truly saying there is no a perfect decision.

 

However, there are several methods helping to reduce risks of clients’ rejects as well as save designers’ time and nerves. Today’s article is devoted to the technique called moodboarding. Let’s see what mood boards are and how they can help in the designer’s workflow.

 

What’s a mood board?

 

The technique of moodboarding is popular not only in design field but among many creative professionals. Mood boards are literally boards (digital or material) which people fill with different kinds of things from photos to various textures so that they could visualize ideas and concepts.

 

Unlike wireframes and prototypes, mood boards don’t show the detailed picture of a future project. They are meant to transfer the right mood and bring the emotions expected from a product.

 

Mood boards are a useful tool helping designers effectively collaborate with clients and team members. Boards can be easily created within a tight time frame and turn an abstract idea into a real one. This way designers can effectively share their ideas with the others because visual material always works better than fluent phrases.

 

mood board UI design

Mood board compiled by Tubik designer Ernest Asanov

 

How to create mood board?

 

Mood boards are a good way to experiment with a color palette, fonts, and style as well as plan visual hierarchy of a project. Everyone decides for themselves what components to include in a mood board. UI/UX designers usually use the various samples so that they could characterize interface elements. There are several common types of mood boards. Let’s see what they are.

 

Free collage

 

Designers often collect free high-resolution photos so that they could use the material in the future projects or elsewhere. These collections may come in handy for the mood board creation. A free collage consisting of beautiful photos is an effective way to transfer a mood of the design concept. Also, collages can be filled with illustrations, fonts, and color examples.

 

This type of mood boards is the fastest and the easiest among the others. However, if a client is detail-oriented, they may not be excited with a free collage as an example of a future project.

 

mood board graphic UI design

Mood board compiled by Tubik designer Ludmila Shevchenko

 

Reference collection

 

Another source of inspiration and a method for idea visualization is quality references. There are plenty resources such as Behance and Dribbble where designers can find inspiring concepts and real projects with a free access. Collection of design works united by a common style or any other feature can easily illustrate an idea for a new project. Moreover, such mood boards help clients effectively comprehend a concept because they can see similar references and imagine what their product will look like.

 

Template board

 

These mood boards are more like prototypes and wireframes. Their aim is to show the structure and visual hierarchy of a product. The difference is that UI elements on a template board are not detailed as in prototypes or schematic as in wireframes. Components are shown via random illustrations and photos presenting a layout of a digital product. In addition, images can be selected that way so it would be easy to recognize corresponding color palette. This method is faster than prototyping because it doesn’t require details.

 

ui moodboard design

 

Mood board compiled by Tubik designer Ludmila Shevchenko

 

Why should UI/UX designers create mood boards?

 

Many of us may notice that wireframing and prototyping are always described as essential stages in design workflow while moodboards are rarely mentioned. Some may consider them as the waste of time or just entertainment. Nevertheless, there are many people who include moodboarding as a part of every creative process. But why do they choose the technique? Here we’ve gathered the list of reasons for designers.

 

1. To save time and effort.

 

The first and a big advantage of moodboarding is that it doesn’t require much time to be done. It means that in a few hours, or maybe less, designers can create a visual guide for clients presenting a concept. A mood board can be easily edited so it saves both time and effort.

 

Such a guideline is a good foundation which allows quickly jumping to the next stage of prototyping. Moreover, designers save their nerves if a client is not satisfied with the outcome and demands a new concept because they don’t spend a whole day to create a detailed presentation.

 

2. To get inspired.

 

Of course, designers can’t always rely on inspiration because they have work to do, still, things are done more effectively if the creator is inspired. Moodboarding is a good way to find ideas and enthusiasm. Beautiful photos and illustrations help to find the right mood and style. In addition, if you can, try to create a material mood board via things surrounding you. It is said that handwork has a powerful impact on creative thinking. So, why don’t take a try?

 

3. To find a right color palette.

 

A collage can include photos, illustrations and color samples forming a compelling composition. By mixing images in different colors on a board designers can experiment with a color palette even if UI elements are not ready yet.

 

4. To enhance communication with customers.

 

When a product is at the stage of an abstract idea, it is sometimes difficult for a designer and a customer to understand each other while discussions. For example, both sides can see the certain style a bit differently so it can cause an argument. That’s why it is always a good idea to have some visual references such as a mood board.

 

5. To talk less and show more.

 

Continuing the point above, it should be said that any long report can’t explain your plans and ideas better than a visual presentation. Words can fail in shaping a picture in a client’s head but the visual material is a reliable guide helping customers to dive deeper into details and understand your ideas correctly.

 

Illustrate your ideas at the early stages so that clients could see what you plan and how their product is shaped up.

 

6. To find a style for a design.

 

If a creative team hasn’t received directives from clients about the style of the design, the task lays on a designer’s shoulders. To see how one or another style works, there is no need to build a detailed prototype for each of them. Add to a mood board different textures, experiment with types of illustration, test fonts, and change colors. It’s faster and more convenient to try options with a mood board than spend time changing prototypes one by one.

 

7. To involve clients in a process.

 

One of the ways of gaining clients’ trust is to let them feel they are deeply involved in a project. So, at this stage, if they wish, they can actively participate in the selection of styles and samples. Moodboarding is an easy technique which can be accomplished if you’re a non-designer.

 

Clients can be suggested to make a collage of photos and pictures, or maybe even references if they are not new at this. This way designers can easily learn clients’ tastes and preferences and see what they expect from the project.

 

Examples of mood boards for digital design projects

 

For more practical presentation of the issue, we would like to show you the set of extended mood board, compiled by Tubik designer Dima Panchenko for his projects on user interface design. He also practices adding the general notes presenting the mood board to the client which has a positive effect on the process of communication and choosing the concept for the project.

 

1. The mood board for setting the client’s preferences about the general stylistic concept of the screen.

 

moodboard for UI project

 

2. The mood board presenting the vision of the style corresponding to the project requirements.

 

moodboard for UI design project

 

3. The moodboard with a variety of concepts for a sport app with football theme.

 

moodboard sport app UI design

 

Moodboarding can become a useful habit for every creative person. Designers can create mood boards to find the inspiration or use them as an additional tool in their workflow. Stay tuned!

 

Recommended reading

 

24 pro tips for creating inspirational mood boards

Creating Better Moodboards for UX Projects

 


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usability testing for web and mobile

Tests Go First. Usability Testing in Design.

A tech guru, Steve Jobs, once said: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Unfortunately, some people still think that designers’ job ends with aesthetic aspects of a product. Nevertheless, UX design depends on several key factors including usability, utility, desirability, attractiveness. Each facet plays its role for a sufficient product, so a creative team needs to make sure all them are done right by conducting tests. Today’s article is devoted to the peculiarities of usability testing and various methods helping to discern usability problems.

 

Why does usability matter?

 

Before we go to the essence of usability testing, let’s find out what usability means and why it is called a core part of effective UX. Nielsen Norman Group defines usability as a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use. The level of usability depends on five aspects: learnability, satisfaction, efficiency, memorability, and errors. Learnability stands for how easy users can attain tasks during the first usage and satisfaction is how pleasant the usage process is. Efficiency is determined by users’ ability to accomplish a task quickly while memorability depends on time which people need to re-establish their proficiency after a period of not using a product. And finally, designers track the number of errors users make and how easily they can learn from these mistakes.

 

When all these factors are considered, digital products provide a high level of usability which means people can easily and effectively use them. But why expert designers are so concerned about a single aspect of UX? Isn’t it more important what services and solutions apps and websites provide? Obviously, the features make a product valuable for people. However, if users can’t figure out how to use an application, it brings zero profit to them. Even the most beautiful interface can’t guarantee a success without a clean functionality system. That’s why one of the core stages of UX building is usability testing.

 

information architecture for designers tubik

 

What’s usability testing?

 

Usability testing is a technique helping to evaluate a product by testing it on potential users. This way designers are able to see if a website or an app is usable enough as well as distinguish possible problems in UX. Usability testing is usually conducted at the UX building stage before a project goes to the development team. It allows changing inefficient solutions easier rather than in a complete product.

 

Moreover, usability testing is a good way to dive deeper into users needs and preferences by watching their reactions while they use a product. Designers can collect the essential information needed for the creation of the effective user-centered design. Also, the gathered information can be used not only for UX design but at the other stages of product development.

 

Types of usability testing methods

 

To reach the high effectiveness of usability testing and gain the expected profit, designers apply various methods which can be categorized into three main groups: explorative, assessment, and comparative.

 

Explorative methods are used at the earliest stages of UX. Designers present wireframes of a product to users and watch their reactions. Explorative methods aim at discovering how people comprehend a concept of a product and how their mental processes work while they use a certain product.

 

Assessment methods are used at the later stages when a user can test a usability of goods via prototypes. Such methods help to evaluate the effectiveness of an app or a website as well as determine the level of users’ satisfaction with a product. Real-time experiments assist to track users’ reactions and errors they make. The collected information is used for eliminating usability problems which have been determined during tests.

 

Finally, comparative usability testing methods are involved when designers need to choose between several solutions. Users compare two or more variants of UX elements then share the opinion with a creative team. Experts consider all the pros and cons of each variant and select the most user-friendly one.

 

There is a great number of usability testing methods. All of them vary and can be used under different circumstances. The choice often depends on goals which a team sets and the budget of a project. We’ve distinguished some common methods helping to test usability. Let’s see what they are.

 

home budget app case study

Home Budget App

 

Hallway Testing

 

This method foresees testing a website or an app on random people, meaning designers can ask someone passing in a hallway or elsewhere. Hallway testing may seem a bit difficult because it requires finding people who would love to take part in such an experiment and then would be able to give a constitutive feedback. The method is often used when the biggest part of work is done so that users could feel it like a complete product. Hallway Testing is one of the most common methods since it’s cheaper and faster than many others.

 

Remote Usability Testing

 

The name of the method speaks for itself. Such approach allows involving people from different countries so that a creative team could see how their product is perceived in various cultures. There are two types of remote usability testing: synchronous or asynchronous.

 

Synchronous remote testing is handled via video conferencing as well as various sharing tools such as WebEx or GoToMeeting. The synchronic approach allows designers to watch how different people use a product in a real-time. Also, users can receive some support from a creator if needed. Still, synchronous remote testing has its drawbacks. Users should be asked to gather in a certain time and if they live in different time zone it may be problematic. That’s why a day and time should be arranged upfront and it may take some time to find the best option for everyone.

 

Asynchronous remote testing is a bit easier to handle. Designers usually set particular tasks which users need to accomplish and then all the information including clicks streams and users’ errors that occur while interacting with a product are gathered automatically. Also, designers may ask users to give a small feedback about their experience. This way a creative team can track how people from different cultures react to the product using it in their own environment (e.g. at home).

 

usability testing

 

Expert Reviews

 

This common method involves evaluation from the experts with experience in usability testing. The approach gives the opportunity to receive wide and constituent feedback and spend less time for it. Experts usually apply testing tools but also they can test it like users. Also, there is another approach called automated expert reviews. It is conducted programs which define usability problems by the use of common patterns. Automated expert reviews are one of the fastest methods still it cannot test all the peculiarities connected with human factors.

 

Paper Prototype Testing

 

One of the essential stages of product creation is wireframing. It is a simplified and schematic visual representation of a layout for website pages or screens of an application interface.They are usually black and white illustrations, sometimes with bright marks or spots to outline specific areas or points, that give a clear vision of the project structure and connections between different parts.

 

The wireframes can be presented to users where they can perform certain tasks like in a real product by interacting with paper models. The method may seem unsophisticated still it’s a cheap and fast way to find out usability problems at the early stages.

 

Thinking Aloud

 

Thinking aloud is a usability testing method which aims at collecting feedback from users right in the usage process. Designers ask users to verbalize their thoughts and feelings which they have while using an app or website. A creative team can comprehend the attitude patterns of the potential users and apply the gathered info for future UX improvements.

 

design for users copy in UI

Design4Users Website

 

Is usability testing profitable?

 

We’ve described only several methods of usability testing but there are much more of them. Methods can be changed or combined depending on the goals. If you still doubt whether you need to conduct usability testing, let’s look at the list of tasks which it helps to accomplish and benefits it brings.

  • Collecting the info helping to improve UX;
  • Identifying problems and bugs which a creative team can’t notice;
  • Ensuring user satisfaction with a product;
  • Increased efficiency of products;
  • Reduced cost of development process;
  • Fast problem elimination;
  • A product with a high level of usability will definitely stand out of crowd.

They say better twice measured than once wrong. Just remember that it’s easier to fix problems at the early stages rather than rebuild a complete product.

human memory tips on ux design

 

Recommended reading

 

Usability Testing

 

Precious Errors: Testing iOS Mobile Applications.

 

Usability 101: Introduction to Usability 

 

The Brief Guide to Testing Mobile Interfaces


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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


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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.


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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?


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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 related 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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