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Using Mobile Apps – The One Thumb, One Eyeball Test for Good Mobile Design

Mobile designs need to take into account the way that users work with a mobile phone. That means understanding that distractions can come into play when the smartphone is in use and also ensuring that you make the input process as simple as possible to counteract their impact. Luke Wroblewski suggests the “one thumb, one eyeball” test as an efficient way of coming to grips with this problem. It may help make your mobile designs more user friendly and enhance the mobile user experience.

Analysing usage patterns for smartphones is a complicated affair. The ThinSlices app design site takes a close look at how smartphones are utilized in daily life and some of the emerging patterns of use for mobile devices.

The Usage of Smartphones

ThinSlices offers these insights into mobile usage:

  • People use their phones in 68% of cases at home rather than in work
  • 72% of smartphone users don’t let their phones out of their reach at any time
  • More than half of all mobile phones are now smartphones
  • Half of all smartphone users consider their phone to be their primary access point for the Internet
  • There are 7 categories of usage on mobile – 3 categories account for 77% of all time spent on the smartphone – socializing, shopping and “me time”. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
    • self-expression (interests and hobbies),
    • discovery (seeking information),
    • preparation (getting ready for other activities),
    • accomplishing (managing health, productivity or finances),
    • shopping,
    • socializing and
    • “me time” (relaxing or being entertained). “Me time” is the most dominant usage with 46% of all time spent on a smartphone dedicated to this activity.
  • Nearly half of mobile users only use their smartphones for traditional phone activities – calling and texting. These users do not download apps or surf the web. Indicating the potential for growth in the app/mobile web space on smartphones.
  • The most used apps in the world are social apps (Facebook, YouTube, Google+, WeChat, Twitter, Skype, Whatsapp and Instagram) but the most used app is Google Maps (suggesting that “on the go” access is very common on smartphones).
  • Usage times vary by culture (Chinese use theirs most after lunch, Europeans in the afternoon and Americans in the evenings).
  • The average user interacts with their phone 150 times a day!

This data is interesting not just because of the opportunities it represents for UX designers in terms of the app market itself, but also because it suggests that there is no standard pattern of mobile usage either. This confirms that the best UX design for mobile is one which will take into account the possibility of the user being distracted from the task(s) they set out to do.

The One Thumb, One Eyeball Test for Good Mobile Design

Luke Wroblewski, Product Director at Google, notes that in a distracted environment, the best form of interaction with a smartphone is one which delivers high speed interaction with very easy to use functionality. He calls the typical mobile usage experience a “one thumb, one eyeball” experience, since the highly distracted environment causes most mobile users to engage in one-handed use with short spans of partial attention.

The one thumb, one eyeball test is thus about finding out if your mobile design allows users to easily use the app with one hand and partially distracted attention. In other words: Can users perform a certain number of tasks with just one hand in under 60 seconds?

If an interaction is measured in minutes or seconds, anything that complicates it is likely to hinder the user experience. Users engaged with smartphones in that 150 uses a day are often not going to have the time to play around for 5-10 minutes working out how to interact with an app or mobile website. They expect that you will cater for their “need for speed” in the design, and if you don’t, they’ll go elsewhere to someone who will.

The one thumb, one eyeball test was proposed by Luke during the design of “Polar”, an app designed to create photo polls and allow voting on them. The objective was that a user should be able to create a new poll in less than a minute using only one thumb to do so.

The results were impressive: Luke’s team delivered a process so simple that most users could deliver a new poll in thirty seconds. They also tested whether voice input could deliver a faster experience, and concluded that it wasn’t any significant amount faster than the one thumb input process. (Note: This may be because users are more familiar with one thumb input processes than voice input processes and the efficiencies might improve as voice input becomes a more widely used form of interaction with smartphones).

User experience designers may find that the one thumb, one eyeball test is a great way to conduct simple usability research for mobile apps and mobile websites. Certainly, it will not be an expensive test to conduct and may appeal to even the smallest design/development teams on the tightest budgets.

The Take Away

Mobile app and web use is very different from the desktop. Users face a variety of different situations throughout the course of the day and in order to deliver a high-quality user experience, designers need to optimize the interaction with their products to enable the highest chances of user acceptance. The one thumb, one eyeball test is a simple measure to see if the design delivers this simplicity of interaction.

 

Source : www.interaction-design.org

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7 Tips To Organize Colors for UI Design

Colors matter. Colors are one of the most important building blocks of any interface (along with typography and space). They have a tremendous effect on the overall perception of a digital product.

It’s vital to structure colors. If you don’t structure colors, you can find overwhelmed by how many colors you use by the time you reach the end of the design project.

Building a consistent system of colors — reducing the number of used colors, and eliminating unnecessary duplicates seemed like the right thing to do. But how to achieve this goal?

Here are seven practical tips for structuring colors in a new design project:

1. Conduct interface inventory

An interface inventory is a procedure of categorizing the components making up your app or website. Interface inventory will show how many colors you use in your product.

If you’re working on a website, use a tool like CSS Stats to see how many unique colors you have in your style sheets.

If you’re creating an inventory in Sketch, use the Sketch-Style-Inventory plugin to aggregate all colors. You will be able to merge similar styles.

For existing products, it’s also recommended to check the number of times each color is actually used in code. By doing that you’ll notice that some of the colors are used in many different places, while others are used only once. The insight you get will help you organize your palette.

2. Let brand colors form the basis

If you’re working for an established brand, most probably the brand has an established brand palette of colors.

Don’t modify the brand colors for UI Desing

You can’t go creative with brand colors because by doing that you’ll deviate from brand guidelines.

Try to use primary brand color for most of the “chrome” on the app

Try to use brand colors for UI elements that make the structure of your design — headers, footers, menus, etc.

If your brand color works both for light and dark background, you can use it as a layout color for your design.

3. Define foundational colors

Establish your whites and blacks

When it comes to selecting whites and blacks, it’s always better not to choose extreme versions of colors. White doesn’t have to be absolute white (#FFFFFF). Similar to that, black doesn’t have to absolute black.

Depending on how strict you want to be with your color palette, you may want to include a range of tints (a color mixed with white) and shades (a color mixed with black). But be careful! Having too many tints and shades can make the procedure of color selection harder for designers.

Find low contrast neutral color

Low contrast neutral colors are bad for elements that require reading but absolutely fine for elements like input fields. Input fields don’t need to stand out very much so low contrast neutral color can help you create a perfect UI container.

Limit the number of primary colors

Ideally, you should have a small number of approved primary colors (1–3 primaries that represent your brand) and a sufficient number of accent colors.

4. Define interactive colors

Interactive colors are colors that we use for interactive elements — buttons, links, and other UI controls that users can click or touch.

Limit the total number of interactive colors

If possible, try to use only one color as your primary interactive color. By doing that you’ll help your user memorize this color.

You can create lighter and darker versions of your interactive color. Color shades can help you convey different states for your UI elements — for example, a pressed state/hover state.

Strive for consistency

Color can be a helpful wayfinding tool for your users. It’s a good idea to use the same color for links and buttons. By doing that you help your users to recognize interactive elements.

5. Define denotive colors

Denotive colors are colors that mean something. You’ll need to have colors for states such as error, warning, and success.

Error state color

Use a share of red to indicate the error state. If one of your brand colors happen to be red, it’s better to avoid using it for error messages. Why? Because by doing that you make users associate your brand color with problems.

Success state color

Use a shade of green to indicate success state. If one of your brand colors is green, it’s absolutely fine to use it for success state. Users will associate your brand color with a positive outcome.

Limit the number of denotive colors

Ideally, you should have only one color for error and another for success. But be sure that colors you choose for error and success work both for low and high- contrast backgrounds.

Disabled state color

Disabled state is traditionally grayed out. Usually, designers use low opacity color for that. One crucial moment that you should remember when selecting disabled state color — make sure the color has enough contrast, so it’s readable for your users.

6. Clear naming conventions

If you’re saving your colors in the design system, make sure to give clear names for each color you use. Color names should be both easily understood and memorable. Both designers and developers should be able to easily refer to particular colors defined in the system.

Try to avoid using gradation of adjectives (lightBlue, darkBlue); use functional names instead — names that describe the color by the place in the UI.

6. Accessibility

Create accessible color palettes so people who are color blind be able to use your products.

Checking color contrast

There are a variety of color contrast checkers you can use to ensure your color palette works for everyone who will use your products.

7. Test your palette

In some cases, modifying existing colors won’t create any problems, in others, you might break the entire UI. That’s why the color palette that you create and apply for UI must be carefully tested.

While it’s possible to use visual regression tools for that purpose, you can achieve much better results by conducting manual testing.

Source : uxplanet.org

 

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Usability: A part of the User Experience

This subject may seem incredibly “big” for a single article, but it’s about the specific nature of usabilitythat we often overlook or confuse. With this appreciation, you’ll be able to design more effectively, and your website’s usership will be able to grow, too.

Usability replaced the outmoded label “user friendly” in the early 1990s. “Usability” has had trouble finding the definition we use now. Different approaches to what made a product “usable” splintered between looking at it with the view of the product in mind (i.e., the ergonomic design, such as a curved keyboard); looking at it from the point of view of the user (how much work and satisfaction/frustration he/she experiences using it); and the view of the user’s performance, which involves how easy the product is to use, if it’s to be used in the real world.

“Usability” refers to the ease of access and/or use of a product or website. It’s a sub-discipline of user experience design. Although user experience design (UX Design) and usability were once used interchangeably, we must now understand that usability provides an important contribution to UX; however, it’s not the whole of the experience. We can accurately measure usability.

A design is not usable or unusable per se; its features, together with the user, what the user wants to do with it, and the user’s environment in performing tasks, determine its level of usability. A usable interface has three main outcomes:

  • It should be easy for the user to become familiar with and competent in using the user interface on the first contact with the website. If we take a travel agent’s website that a designer has made well, the user should be able to move through the sequence of actions to book a ticket quickly.
  • It should be easy for users to achieve their objective through using the website. If a user has the goal of booking a flight, a good design will guide him/her through the easiest process to purchase that ticket.
  • It should be easy to recall the user interface and how to use it on subsequent visits. So, a good design on the travel agent’s site means the user should learn from the first time and book a second ticket just as easily.

This isn’t the only set of requirements for usability. For example, a usable interface will be relatively error-free when used.

We can measure usability throughout the development process, from wireframes to prototypes to the final deliverable. Testing can be done with paper and pencil but also remotely when we have higher-fidelity prototypes.

It’s important to analyze the users’ performance and concerns with a web design as early as possible. From there, we can apply a set of guidelines with a grain of salt; because they tend to be general, we need to adapt them to our specific area. Guidelines show a product’s features proven to improve usability. We can fine-tune design revisions according to these guidelines, as long as we look at all the dimensions. Sometimes, it might just involve tweaking a menu layout; or, it might involve looking much higher.

We have to consider the user at all points when determining usability. If our designs are to be “usable”, they have to pass the test with a minimum number of criteria. If our product were a mouse and not a website, we’d have to ensure that it conformed to standards (to receive that all-important “CE” imprint). For a website, it might be easier to explore how our design ranks alongside a competitor’s. Let’s go back to the travel agent’s and see where we might improve our design.

Our design

  • Users can navigate to “buy” button in 294 seconds, on average.
  • Returning users navigate to “buy” button in 209 seconds, on average.
  • 18% of users bought a ticket on finding landing page.
  • 42% of users went no further than the landing page.

Happy Huzzah’s Getcha There, Inc.

  • Users can navigate to “buy” button in 198 seconds, on average.
  • Returning users navigate to “buy” button in 135 seconds, on average.
  • 32% of users bought a ticket on finding landing page.
  • 12% of users went no further than the landing page.

Glancing at these metrics tells us something. We need to check out what “Happy Huzzah’s Getcha There, Inc.” is doing, because something’s certainly working there!

Usability Elements

In addition to content, we have web development and design considerations for usability. These are (mainly) outlined as follows:

Server

Servers used to host websites are a usability consideration. Two major factors to consider when selecting servers are:

  • Speed – Google ranks by usability to some extent. How quickly your page loads is one of the ranking factors — so, speed to load is also a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) concern. A website that’s slow to load and slow to respond turns users off. Servers influence how fast a page will load depending on their capacity, specialization, etc. Naturally, it’s not just servers that influence the speed of a page — the web designer has a lot of influence over this in the way he/she serves images, graphics, etc., too.
  • Downtime – During downtime, a website is completely inaccessible. It’s fair to say that most websites will experience the occasional moment of downtime when a server falls offline. However, some suffer more than most; choosing a reliable server enables the delivery of a better user experience. One bad experience might have a user shrug and come back later. More, and that user may go somewhere else.

HTML

Focus the HTML you use on delivering a better user experience. While, to date, only mobile websites benefit from user experience ranking on Google, it’s probably fair to infer that in the future this will also be true on all platforms. Some key considerations for your HTML include:

  • Use ALT tags – ALT tags are used in conjunction with images; they let you convey additional information about the image that isn’t displayed as part of the main text. ALT tags assist with indexing in search engines (they let you tell the search engine about the content of the image). They also help with screen-reader narration for visually impaired users.
  • 404 Not Found Page – Broken links happen, particularly in large websites. While ideally, you should test all links on a regular basis and repair any broken ones, it’s a good idea to have a plan for when users encounters a broken link. That plan is the “404 Not Found Page” — a well-designed 404 page will try to assist the user in returning to a positive experience. The default 404 page isn’t helpful in this respect. Clunky and primitive, it gives users the impression that they’ve come to the end of an escalator that isn’t attached to a floor. They don’t want to fall off and land on an archaic message. As a designer, never lose sight of that. That little courtesy goes a long way.

Visual Factors

The visual factors that impact the overall user experience are the factors where, normally, you the designer have the most control. That means paying careful attention to:

  • Font Size and Color - Choose fonts that are easy to read. That means high levels of contrast with the background and font sizes large enough for users to read easily. If some of your user base is elderly or visually impaired, make fonts larger.
  • Branding – Branding, in particular the company logo, helps users know where they are online. Based on eye movement patterns, the ideal place for the logo is the top-left corner of the screen. This is where users who read from left to right are most likely to look when first arriving on the site.
  • Layout Colors – Colors need to be consistent in order to convey branding and also to develop an aesthetic appeal. In addition, they must deliver readability. Often, they need to convey hierarchy of information, too.
  • Navigation – For users to get the most from a website, they need to get from point A (the entry point) to point B (where they want to be) as quickly and easily as possible. That means providing useful navigation systems, including (for larger websites) search functions, to facilitate that transition.
  • Content – The web designer may or may not be responsible for creating the website copy, but there are design elements in the way you display that copy for user experiences:
  • Headings – Organize content into manageable chunks through the use of headings, sub-headings, etc. This means developing a scheme for consistent display of each type of heading throughout the website, ensuring a consistent experience as users navigate around the site.
  • Paragraphs – Make paragraphs clear and easily recognizable to help prevent the user from being overwhelmed by a “wall of text”. You can also apply Gestalt principles to paragraphs to help better illustrate the relationships between blocks of content.

Website Usability Tools

Testing your website is easy, thanks to a host of tools. Many are free; some are freemium, others premium. Get one that works for your website, then let it gather the data about usability. Many let you test on your existing usership; you can tell from the data what they’re experiencing, what’s going right and not-so right. Here’s a list of some:

Usabilla is another usability testing tool that can also provide information based on actual usage of your current site.

WebPage FX is a tool for testing the readability of content on a website.

Pingdom offers an insight into speed of response from your website.

An Element of User Experience

It would be wonderful if we could draw the borders of user experience as if it were a country on a map. Unfortunately, the reality is more fuzzy. As much as we like making sense of phenomena and applying frameworks, we must remember that users are people. As such, they make decisions steered by logic andemotions.

As we saw above, many designers get confused at the difference between usability and the larger branch of user experience. Core areas of the user experience include (Usability, 2014):

  • Usability: A measure of a user’s ability to arrive on a site, use it easily, and complete the desired task. Remember, we’re designing websites, where there is flow, rather than focusing on page design and assuming everything will flow later.
  • Useful content: The website should include enough information in an easily digestible format that users can make informed decisions. Keep Hick’s Law in mind here: streamline your design to be simple. Use restraint.
  • Desirable/Pleasurable Content: The best user experiences come when the user can form an emotional bond with the product or website. That means moving beyond usable and useful and on to developing content that creates that bondEmotional design is a huge part of the user experience. An English grammar website that offers daily tips might prove itself useful. But if that tip is funny, users won’t only remember the rule; they may return for more!
  • Accessibility: For people with different levels of disability, online experiences can be deeply frustrating. There are a set of accessibility standards with which sites should conform to assist the visually impaired, the hearing impaired, the motion impaired, etc. Content for the learning disabled needs careful consideration in order to provide a more complete user experience, too.
  • Credibility: The trust that your website engenders in your users also plays a part in the user experience. One of the biggest concerns users have online is security (in many cases, they worry about privacy, too). Addressing these concerns through your design, for example by showing security features and having easily accessible policies regarding these concerns, can help create a sense of credibility for the user.

Naturally, the usability of a design is important. However, we need to consider usability alongside these other concerns to create a great user experience. The UX comes as much from graphical design, interactive design, content, etc. as it does from usability alone.

The Take Away

Usability refers to how easily a user interacts with a website or product. It comes under the heading of UX design, but is not the whole story of user experience design. In usability, we designers have to focus on three aspects in particular:

  • Users should find it easy and become proficient when using a design interface.
  • They should be able to achieve their goal easily through using that design.
  • They should be able to learn the interface easily, so that return visits are just as, if not more, easy.

We should analyze our web design when determining usability, taking into account everything from accessibility and usefulness of content to credibility and designing content users will enjoy. That means thinking ahead. Who are your users? Might they have trouble reading your text? Can you make them smile or laugh by adopting a fun tone (e.g., edument—entertainment and education—is useful when teaching)? Users will want to feel reassured that they are navigating securely. Make them feel so.

You also should consider the realities of the web. Finding a reliable server for your site that loads quickly is crucial. At the HTML level, you should use ALT tags and design a helpful catch page in case a link is broken.

Visual factors, including layout colors and content formatting are important, too. Having a good-looking site is all very well, but can users navigate easily?

Finally, test, test, and test. A plethora of website usability tools exist. Never underestimate the value of testing from an early stage. By working out where users click, for example, you’ll be well on track to learning their ways and how usable your site is.

Source: www.interaction-design.org

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Procedure & Criteria for Running a Website Usability Tests

Usability tests are critical for the success of any product. One must note that the scope of conducting the usability test is vast and can be practically done over any product from cloud-based software to futuristic gaming consoles.

However, in this blog, we will discuss specifically how usability tests work for websites individually. Although the principles for web usability are similar as with any other products, except the fact that they are more important considering that there are more than billions of website as of today.

The point being, there are a lot of websites which are similar to each other in plenty of ways. If you’re not standing out or being useful, users are likely to move to the next website.

Procedure for Running Website Usability Test

Damian Rees, Co-founder of Experience Solutions explains how he adapted website usability testing for the most optimized experience. Since the internet is highly accessible, one of his core principles is setting criteria and expectations beforehand so that your tests proceed with the right level of technical proficiency. While doing so, here are four points one should keep in mind:

#1. Ask users to behave naturally.

Your website must support multiple test cases and modes of use. Getting started with open-ended tasks will give you a preview of how users use your website outside of the testing environment.

#2. Allow users to finish the task as they want.

If the users are getting sidetracked, let them be. In the real world, you won’t be there to keep them on the track. The purpose of the test is how a user interacts with your website.

#3. Do thorough competitor analysis.

Only testing your own site will rob you of the broader context. After all, it isn’t about how users interact with your website- it’s about tailoring your website based on how they use other websites.

#4. Hide the testing site.

Due to general psychology, your users are bound to get conscious and less honest if you tell them which site you’re testing. Users may find it out at the end though the more you delay, the accurate the results.

It would be obviously helpful if you cater to these points. Though don’t be too rigid. Keep a loose attitude and give space to the user for more natural results.

Criteria for Running Website Usability Tests

When conducting a usability test for a website, there are certain criteria for websites which might not be relevant to other products. Jacob Gube, founder of Six Revisions- a web and app development company, says that qualitative feedback alone is not enough for websites. That is because simple technical performance criteria like speed affect the user experience drastically.

There are six basic criteria that must be taken into account while doing the website usability tests:

#1. Readability

Content is the heart of any website and hence, special stress is given to this criteria. One should be paying extra attention to the site’s legibility, comprehension, language & grammar and ease of reading. There are various readability tools available on the internet for you to use.

#2. Navigability

Navigation is critical to decrease the bounce rate and increase the page visit time. Make sure you place proper links, CTAs, links etc. evenly on the page. In how many clicks your users are being able to finish their tasks? Card sortingwill help you answer this question.

#3. Task Success

One of the most important aspects of the usability test is to find whether the users are being able to complete the tasks or not. For example, creating an account, placing an order, etc. To get started with this criteria, assign an open task to the users to analyze the task success rate and then directly follow up with a single question.

#4. UX Design

It is quite obvious that focus on user satisfaction may get out of sight while we are focusing on the qualitative features. There are various types of tests, interviews, field studies, diary studies to help you access this factor. The point being, just being usable is not enough, the experience should also be delightful.

#5. Speed

Do you like to wait for the website to launch? Neither do your or your users. Speed is indeed significant for your website’s success since UX, functionality and SEO performance depends on it. Google Page Speed is a handy tool for you to measure your website’s speed.

#6. Accessibility

Is your website experience consistent across various browsers over mobile and desktop? Here’s a list of 25 awesome accessibility tools for you.

Source : uxplanet.org

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Eartracking: A New UX-Research Method

Eyetracking has long been a common way to enhance usability studies with insights that are more detailed than those gleaned from users’ thinking-aloud comments. Since 2005, Nielsen Norman Group has run many eyetracking research studies, some documented in the book Eyetracking Web Usability.

Eyetracking is particularly useful for understanding details in users’ reading behaviors and how they deal with advertisements. But new UX teams shouldn’t employ eyetracking for their initial usability studies. Only at the highest UX-maturity levels should a team start using eyetracking because eyetracking has several downsides, including:

  • high cost of the specialized equipment
  • challenges to design and moderate a methodologically valid eyetracking study
  • difficulty of tracking the eyes of people with thick-rim eyeglasses or heavy eye makeup

Luckily there is now an alternative: instead of tracking users’ eyes, we can track their ears.

Eartracking in Its Infancy

We first became aware of the benefits of eartracking during our research with cats and dogs. Many animals have ears that visibly turn in the direction of their attention. Turning the ears is clearly an evolutionary adaptation that allows predators to keenly follow the prey and it also enables potential preys to notice a stalking predator before it comes into visible range.

(Some dogs have floppy ears that don’t turn, but even these ears are adaptive: floppy-eared dogs are usually so cute that humans will feed them, and they won’t need to hunt in the first place. Also, floppy-eared dogs have high job security: the United States Transportation Security Administration has decided that the vast majority of bomb-sniffing dogs in airports should be floppy-eared breeds because of better passenger acceptance caused by extra cuteness.)

Eartracking Measures

Although humans don’t have floppy ears, our ears don’t visibly turn in the direction of potential dangers or potential food. However, evolution has preserved vestiges of ear-turning muscles, as is clearly demonstrated by anybody who wiggles their ears. Humans have some ability for small ear movements under conscious control. What is less commonly known is that we also exhibit subconscious micromovements of the ears. When analyzing ear movements as an indicator of human reaction, we look at two new biometrics: 1) the distance the ear moves, and 2) how many times the ear moves (known as microwiggles) per second.

These micromovements are not observable by the naked eye, because the ear moves less than 0.1 mm(0.004 inches), and most people don’t know that the human ear can microwiggle up to six times in one second. In fact, because microwiggles of the ear are so unobtrusive, they have not been the subject of serious research until now.

Ear–Mind Hypothesis Is Real

The main finding from our research is that the ear–mind hypothesis is as valid as the eye–mind hypothesis that underlies the use of eyetracking in user research. The eye–mind hypothesis states that people look at what they are interested in, which is why we can use measures of gaze direction to estimate what the user is attending to. Similarly, the (now confirmed) ear–mind hypothesis states that micromovements of the ear are directed toward things that are startling or surprising to the user.

Note the difference between the two sense–mind hypotheses: the eyes might look at anything that is merely interesting, while the ears react only at unexpected stimuli that are potentially of high interest or importance. This difference is obviously caused by the evolutionary background for micromovements of the ear. Fossils more than 160,000 years old have indicated that our ancestors had ear macromovements, about a thousand times more pronounced than our ear movements today. These movements supported survival in eat-or-be-eaten scenarios, where noticing surprising or startling things were of utmost importance.

Eartracking-Technology Advancements

Though small, ear micromovements can be picked up by an 8K video camera that’s placed closely enough to the ear that’s being studied. (8K cameras are not yet common, but NHK in Japan has been experimentingwith this next-generation video technology since December 2018 and was kind enough to lend us one of their cameras.)

A second technology advance now allows us to turn micromovement video streams into true eartracking and tell where the user’s attention is directed. A machine-learning algorithm has been trained with 10,000 hours of video recordings from our most recent eartracking study, during which we tracked users’ ears as they attempted standard tasks on a wide variety of websites. Unfortunately, running the resulting AI software in real time (which is obviously required for practical use of eartracking in a usability study, since, in order to ask followup questions after a task, the facilitator needs to know what the user attended to, as well as how far and how many times her ears microwiggled) currently requires a supercomputer rated at 50 petaflops per second.

Currently, only 4 computers in the world are fast enough to do eartracking: 2 in the U.S. and 2 in China. Luckily, this distribution allowed us to continue our tradition of testing with both American and Chinese users. After all, we’ve previously found that Chinese users and Western users differ in their approach to the visual complexity of website layouts. So it was a plausible hypothesis that results from eartracking studies might differ across cultures as well. However, we didn’t find any differences, so the rest of this article will refer to the combined data from the two studies.

Eartracking vs. Eyetracking

Eartracking is not a highly sensitive technique: it can only capture environment stimuli that receive a high level of interest. Thus, a phenomenon like banner blindness, which we have documented through our eyetracking studies, would not be something that we’d expect to capture with eartracking because we do not expect users to be surprised by advertising banners (unless they come with loud noises that play automatically). Thus, banners would not register in eartracking even if users did pay attention to these ads (which we know from eyetracking that they don’t).

Another interesting contrast between eyetracking and eartracking relates to gender differences. First, let me point out that we almost never observe any substantial differences between male and female users in usability studies. In terms of the user interaction, users of both genders are equally annoyed by, for example, zigzag layouts that impede scanning.

However, there are certainly some differences in the content that different genders find interesting. For instance, men in our eyetracking research looked much more at certain body parts in photos. (For the sake of remaining a family website, we won’t go into further details, but the heatmaps are in our book.)

Eartracking found another interesting difference between male and female users: Male ears twitched quite substantially when the user interface included pictures of wooly mammoths or stereo equipment. (In fact, these are the only instances in our entire research study where the micromovements reached their maximum extent of 0.1 mm, and up to five wiggles in one second. Nonmammoth and nonstereo UI elements rarely registered more than 0.05 mm, though photos of elephants scored 0.08 mm — possibly because of the resemblance between mammoths and elephants during the initial 100 ms of exposure.) In contrast female ears didn’t twitch any more on pages showing wooly mammoths or stereo equipment than on webpages with other pictures.

Why do men’s ears react more strongly than women’s ears to webpages with pictures of wooly mammoths? We can only speculate, but it’s likely that during the era of the cave people, it was mainly the men of the tribe who were assigned to hunt the wooly mammoth, and since such a kill would be a major win, the hunters got highly attuned to recognizing this animal. As for the stereo equipment, your guess is as good as mine.

The finding of gender differences in mammoth webpages was due to a lucky coincidence: we employed the new eartracking technology with a few of the users during our recent study of UX design for children, and happened to include the wooly-mammoth page on National Geographic Kids’ website. (Subsequently, we repeated this test with adult users and confirmed the finding.)

Eartracking Strengths over Eyetracking

It’s still early days in applying eartracking to UX research, but it seems a promising new methodology. Compared to eyetracking, eartracking has the advantage of being able to measure surprises, which will be particularly valuable for game user research. There’s also an obvious accessibility advantage when testing with people who are blind and can’t participate in eyetracking studies.

Eartracking Weaknesses

On the other hand, eartracking has some weaknesses that parallel the disadvantages of eyetracking. As we mentioned before, certain user characteristics are difficult for current eyetracking equipment. Similarly, eartracking equipment can’t track people with:

  • hair that covers the ears
  • diamond stud earrings that reflect light into the camera, or any ear cuffs
  • very small ears
  • hearing aids that go over the ear in any way
  • earmuffs
  • earbuds

Also, while an eyetracker is fairly expensive, the supercomputer required for an eartracking study runs close to $100 million. (Luckily we were granted free supercomputer time due to the revolutionary nature of our research.) A bigger supercomputer currently under construction is named after a senior eartracking researcher, showcasing its promise for wider use of this exciting technology.

Summary

If your user research budget has an extra $100 million that you don’t know how to spend, and you have a highly advanced UX team and mature product team, consider allocating the money to an eartracking study.

 

Source : www.nngroup.com

Author : Jakob Neilsen

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What is Human-Centered Content?

“Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem solving […] It’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs.”

Human-Centered Design (HCD) has been a buzzword in the design community for years. In short, HCD is a mindset anyone can adopt to solve problems and find solutions that meet human needs. In practice, it often starts with a hypothesis about a problem or challenge, and is followed by research to investigate that hypothesis — similar to the scientific method taught in elementary schools.

Today, Human-Centered Design is commonly applied to solve design challenges for mobile applications, websites, and services. I like to think of it as a “people first” design process. The opposite would be a “solutions first” process.

Human-Centered Design example:

“We hypothesize that low-income families struggle to find healthy, affordable food available in their local grocery store. How can we help them?”

Solutions-first design example:

“Let’s create a grocery shopping app.”

The human-centered approach is far more likely to become a successful solution, for what I hope is obvious reasons. When you start with solutions, you miss out on crucial insights that could help you decide what features to create in a product, what the visual look and feel should be, and how to shape the voice of the brand so that it all appeals to the target audience.


Content and the Human-Centered Design process

When I first left my corporate job to start a consulting business, I found myself having to explain exactly what I meant by terms like “content strategy” and “content design.”

After some guidance from a brilliant business strategist, I started to use my process as a way to explain my work.

“I start with user research,” I’d say, “to uncover what needs, goals, and questions your audience has. Then, I use those insights to create a master plan for all your content and define things like your messaging strategy and website architecture. This process aligns content with real user needs so you can easily achieve your business goals.”

After many of these conversations, I started hearing the same feedback from potential clients and peers.

Applying HCD to content: a process to follow

Since those early days, I’ve leaned in to the idea that my work as a content strategist or content designer is really just applying HCD to content.

Thinking in terms of “human-centered content” has solved a lot of challenges for me when it comes to defining my work — or at least, my version of content strategy and content design.

I realized that yes, it’s basically a blend of the Design Thinking process and the Human-Centered Design process with a content-edge. I empathize with users first, make sense of the research, create a plan, prototype the content, then test and improve if I can.

What I love about framing my work in terms of a design process is that is overcomes a lot of misconceptions. Content strategy is not a deliverable. It’s not a “phase” in a project. It’s not a document. It’s a flexible process to solve content challenges that puts human needs at the forefront.

The solutions first approach to content is designing a wireframe for a website, then “dropping in” content later. The human-centered approach starts starts by doing research about what content people need and want, then designs a wireframe around that content.

If you have content challenges to solve, here are a few principles I’ve defined in the last few years as central components to human-centered content.


Three Principles of Human-Centered Content

So, what really makes content human-centered? Aside from following a human-centered process, I like to evaluate the success (or “human-centered-ness”) of content in a three key ways. I think of these as more like guiding principles rather than a checklist.

1. Human-centered content supports user questions and tasks

Human-centered content prioritizes user questions and tasks, because those are the main reasons why someone will use an interface.

Whether it’s a website, an app, an internal web portal, people mainly care about themselves — not your business. You can be human-centered by prioritizing content that answers their questions or supports their tasks.

Examples of user questions:

  • What does your business do?
  • Is your business close to my house?
  • What are your business hours?
  • What is on your menu?
  • How can you help me?

Examples of user tasks:

  • I need to update my mailing address at my bank
  • I need to schedule an appointment
  • I need to create a new profile for my employee
  • I need to send someone a document to e-sign

2. Human-centered content is relevant to the user

Outside of questions and tasks, all content should still be created through the lens of, “how can we make this relevant to our user?”

Consider a company About Page, for example. Lots of businesses love to talk about their company’s origin story, the awards they have achieved, their certifications, etc. Chances are, if someone is looking for a new insurance company, they don’t care much about industry certifications they have never heard of.

If you must include content on your website that is not directly answering a question or supporting a user task, find a way to put a user-centered spin on it. Don’t just tell the user you have a certification. Tell them why they should care and how it helps them.

Relevant content is also:

  • In a voice and tone the user will enjoy
  • In a format the user will expect and understand

3. Human-centered content is accessible and inclusive

Humans are not all the same. As much as we all love personas, they will never represent every single person who sees your content.

Some humans won’t be able to hear the audio on your videos. Other humans might not be able to see the screen, and use things like screen readers to help them. There’s a great wide spectrum of human capabilities out there, and they are all equally wonderful.

To be truly human-centered, your content needs to be, at minimum, accessible to all humans. In other words, they should be able to access and understand the information in some way regardless of their physical or cognitive abilities. At best, human-centered content is inclusive and welcoming.

To make your content more accessible:

  • Use alternate text for images
  • Use captions and transcripts for videos
  • Prioritize important information in headings and subheads
  • Avoid jargon, acronyms, and complex sentences
  • Write descriptive and specific Call-to-Action copy (example: instead of “read more” you can say “read about accessibility”)

For more on content accessibility, check out the Readability Guidelines by Content Design London. For more on web accessibility, read Introduction to Web Accessibility. Also, see 7 Guidelines for Writing Accessible Microcopy.

To make your content more inclusive:

  • Avoid gendered language when it’s not needed
  • Asking for gender or race in a form? Explain why and include write-in options
  • Avoid phrases and idioms that won’t translate well if your audience speaks English as a second language

Problems with this terminology and other final thoughts

To wrap things up, those are my thoughts now on how we can apply HCD to content and think about content in human-centered terms. But like anything else, it’s not perfect.

For one, I’ve kind of meshed and merged “Design Thinking” and “HCD” together in this article and in my own brain. Some people might not like that, and that’s fair. I also know that the term “user-centered” might make more sense to some people.

To zoom out a bit, we’ve also got lots of confusing terms in the content industry already. Introducing “human-centered content” as a new term could just mix things up even more. That’s also fair.

All that said, I’ve personally found it to be a nice way to explain my work and think about my own process. Perhaps for some of you out there will find it useful too.

Source : uxplanet.org

Author : Veronica Cámara

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Dressing Up Your UI with Colors That Fit

As designers, we have a powerful ally in color. It can let us work towards a number of different goals. You can use it to reinforce or highlight an idea, to provoke an emotional response from the user or to draw attention to a specific part of your website. This is, of course, in addition to making your website aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

In many cases, the color scheme chosen for a website will also reflect the company’s branding and values.

Color and Branding

The color scheme for a website can contribute to the overall brand perception of products or services. Based on research by CCICOLOR, the Institute of Color Research, users judge products online within the first 90 seconds of their initial view of the product. Between 62% and 90% of this judgment will be based upon the color scheme. Their findings showed that color can reflect the personality of the brand:

  • Red is said to reflect power, passion, and energy. It can be used to alert the user or attract the user’s attention in a design or brand. Red colors are found on the websites of CNN, MacDonald’s, KFC, YouTube, and Adobe.
  • Orange can mean friendship, unification, and youth. One example of using orange is Fanta, which you might expect to be in concert with their core branding (orange Fanta was once the only Fanta – the brand has come a long way in recent years and dramatically expanded its offerings).
  • Yellow is said to reflect happiness and enthusiasm. This isn’t surprising; it’s the primary color that we associate with the sun and with the brightness coming from a light bulb. An example of using yellow in a logo is DHL, the international carrier.
  • Green is said to reflect growth and the environment. The Inhabitate website for sustainable development makes use of green, chiming in with the color’s environmental connotations.
  • Blue is said to reflect calm, safety, and reliability. It’s a wise color to use; customers tend to feel more at ease with it. Many business sectors widely use blue, and you can find it on the websites and branding of AOL, Facebook, HP, PayPal, EA Games, DELL, and many others.

Color and User Experience

Color certainly plays its part in delivering a better user experience on websites. In particular, the right choice of color will ensure the usability and legibility (readability) of information displayed on screen.

The right contrast between text and background is an essential part of the user experience; if your customers can’t read your content easily, they’re going to go elsewhere. Think for a moment about red text on a blue background. That color combination is hard to read; our eyes can’t focus on these shades at the same time. The same goes for blue text on a red background. The colors vibrate, making us strain our eyes.

We have another tool. You can also “deprioritize” text by reducing the level of contrast compared to the background, helping the reader skip through non-essential text when skimming or speed-reading.

The vibrancy of a color can help instill an emotional experience. Bright colors give energy (which is why so many calls to action are in bright red or orange) and a sense of immediacy. News websites often use red text to call attention to breaking or important news. Softer, less vibrant colors can help a user be more relaxed when approaching navigation.

How Do Colors Complement Each Other?

To deliver a harmonious color scheme, it’s important to focus on the details of the colors chosen. There are several things to consider during this process:

Tints, Shades, and Tones

You can generate many variations of a single “hue” on the color wheel. Make a tint by adding white to the hue, a shade by adding black, and tonality by adding gray.

The easiest scheme in which to achieve balance through tints, shades and tones is the monochromatic (single color) scheme.

Contrast

Contrast is simply a measure of the variation between two colors. Colors on opposite sides of the color wheel offer the greatest level of contrast, as do black and white. Contrast can be used to achieve balance or to draw a user’s attention to a certain feature or area of text.

It’s important to keep a careful eye on the use of contrast; overdo it and you’re more likely to confuse users than to help them.

Vibrancy

We can use the vibrancy (or brightness) of a color to add additional emotional content to a color with brighter shades, generally reflecting increased energy (and thus positive emotions, such as happiness), and darker shades, offering reduced energy and thus calmer, quieter spaces.

Additive vs. Subtractive Colors

We choose modern color schemes based on the systems used to display or print designs. The two most common systems are CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key – Black) and RGB (Red, Green and Blue).

CMYK is a subtractive color system in that, in the absence of any of the four colors, the output is white. Colors are calculated (including black) as a percentage of each of the four colors. CMYK is typically used for print.

RGB, on the other hand, is an additive system. It begins with black, and colors are added to achieve hues up to and including white. The values of each color are assigned from 1 to 256 and offer more than 16 million combinations for the palette. This is because RGB is typically used on digital screens, and the underlying system is based on binary pairs.

It’s worth noting that, from a human eye’s perspective, there’s little difference between the two palettes. Our eyes can, perhaps, distinguish all 10 million colors created by the CMYK scale, but the 16 million of the RGB scale often differ too subtly for the eye to tell the difference. Neither palette is “better” than the other from a visual perspective.

The difference is important from a design perspective because the two systems are used to produce different outputs – print and screen. Conversion between the two systems can be imprecise and yield varying results when viewed.

Online Color Scheme Applications

The good news is that if you’re stuck choosing a color scheme for your users, there are plenty of online tools to help with the job. You can download (and in some cases export settings for other programs) color palettes from the sites listed below:

Don’t forget to seek feedback on your color schemes from your users before moving ahead with them.

The Take Away

Color is a powerful tool for you. Choosing a color scheme for a website is especially important for branding, as research has shown. Take a company like DHL, which uses yellow (believed to reflect happiness and enthusiasm). Now, consider DHL’s business – carrying goods and documents that we value. It helps to instil happiness in the customer.

As a designer, you can optimize user experiences by choosing the right colors. This will help to ensure:

  • Usability and legibility (readability) for the user. We can choose the best color combination to make sure that customers keep reading what we’ve written.
  • An emotional experience in the user. This involves the vibrancy of the color chosen. Bright colors give energy and a sense of immediacy or urgency. We can use them to call attention to our products, services or important messages. Softer, less vibrant colors can help a user feel more at ease – especially useful for industries such as banking.

Using colors to your advantage means knowing what goes into them. Looking at the color wheel (from which we can make any color), we have:

  • Tints – We add white to a hue (the part of a color that makes it discernible as red, green, etc.) to make a tint.
  • Shades – We add black to a hue to make a shade.
  • Tones – We add gray to a hue to make a tone.

To get a balance through tints, shades and tones, it’s easiest to use the monochromatic (single color) scheme.

You should also consider the following for our color schemes:

  • Contrast – We can draw a user’s eye to a certain feature or achieve balance in our design by using the measure of variation between two colors, or black and white. Be careful with contrast: overdoing it will confuse readers. Focus it on what’s important.
  • Vibrancy – Vital for provoking an emotional user response. Feelings are important, so tap into them with your color scheme choice. Use brighter shades to reflect more energy and positive emotions like happiness; use darker shades to calm your user.

Choose your color scheme based on whether your design is for screen display or print. CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key – Black) is the subtractive color system used for print, capable of 10 million color combinations. RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) is the additive color system used for screen display, allowing over 16 million color combinations.

Many online tools can help you find the right color palette. Above all, check with your users that the color schemes you like work for them. That feedback will save your time and expense before you move ahead.

 

SOURCE : www.interaction-design.org

AUTHOR : Mads Soegaard

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Effective Mobile App UX Enhancement

The quality of mobile app user experience is highly relevant in terms of holding users’ attention for the largest number of repeated launches. The Interaction Design Foundation claims that mobile UX must bring joy to users and this is something I agree with.

The point is that such a clear idea is, in fact, a challenge for all mobile app designers. Fortunately, the smartphone market has existed long enough to supply us with both good and bad practices. In this article, I survey the best mobile UX implementations to provide a holistic overview of logical and effective app UX.

It is important to consider that best practices are not always successful ones. Even such giants as Google make mistakes. At Android Dev Summit 2018, Google admitted that bright white material design canvases consume too much energy. An app’s effect on battery life is as significant for UX as are visual features, accessibility and other factors I cover in this article. User experience is a true reflection of the developer’s understanding of essential app design rules as well as knowledge of psychology and statistics.

The app market is extremely competitive, so developers lack time to launch apps – often resorting to test and fix them on the go.

How an App’s Performance Affects UX

The performance of an application is a sum of two basic measurements. The first one is the app’s average response time to commands during conditions of peak CPU load. The response time must be as fast as possible since slow response time is the top reason why users reject apps. An application must launch without an irritating downloading process.

This is where the second measurement comes in. A developer should calculate the amount of computational power needed for an app’s launch and even functioning. At 407 Session of WWDC 2018, Apple Xcode Engineer John Hess expressed this very point. He also insisted that measurements be done at all stages of application development.

According to Hess, performance enhancement consists of several stages. The first is debugging. Apple does this using profilers (measurement software) and the re-coding of applications. As a result, it deletes massive parts of redundant code from its apps. This operation must be repeated until profilers detect the desired performance growth.

Likely, users will not notice any dramatic changes but smartphone hardware will. The less capacity needed for the peak load, the higher the number of simultaneous tasks that may be run without throttling and freezes.

Effective Onboarding Flow Principles

This stage is crucial because it determines the user’s accustomization to a new application. Of course, all apps require specific onboarding steps, but their purpose is unified. They must let you in, collect your data and introduce capabilities as fast as possible. Let us get straight to the examples.

  • LinkedIn: This app gives new users a brief descriptive introduction to the network. It was a wise decision to allow users to skip the intro if they already know what the network is about. During the next stage, users are asked to enter their personal information. It feels out all the necessary data to provide instant suggestions for interest groups, opinion leaders, professionals in adjacent fields and familiar personalities from Facebook and email contacts. This way, LinkedIn completes an otherwise time-consuming research process in seconds, without users’ participation.
  • Flipboard: This is an example of a unique ‘ flow. Flipboard is designed to astonish users from the very first launch. After six years, I still remember my first launch! This app has a unique navigation mechanism that is based on flipping pages in a manner similar to flipping through a paper magazine. It would be impossible to understand the logic without instructions. That is why the introduction teaches new users how to use the app. It also collects information about the users’ interests. The impression of a soft cultural shock that the introduction provides will make users want to complete the rather dull registration process that follows.
  • Duolingo: This app is designed to help multicultural audiences learn new languages. Onboarding flow in Duolingo is multistage. Before users get to the sign-in screen, they must choose a language to study, pass a short test, choose goals and a studying path, and even complete the first lesson. This way, Duolingo figures out a newbie’s level and purpose. At the same time, it shows everything a new user should know about the app’s mission. To be fair, I tested many apps for language learning, and Duolingo is not the most effective one. However, it is the most popular one. The quality of its UX has made this app go viral. Moreover, it persuades users that learning a new language is more straightforward with Duolingo.

As you know, these apps provide entirely different services, but they do adhere to similar rules. An app must introduce itself rapidly and descriptively, teach users how to use it properly and provide a feeling of joy from the use of the application.

Proper UX Personalization Cases

Of course, it is much easier to let users search for and choose what they want, but they do not need an app that is unable to help. At the same time, users hate the feeling of being spied on. Based on these conditions, UX personalisation should be both more subtle and effective. I suggest reading these personalisation tipsto get more out of the practices below.

  • Netflix & YouTube: Both video streaming services provide automated feed personalisation. They use previously viewed and rated videos to suggest relevant content. The same algorithm is used in YouTube to show related videos directly under currently viewed videos. Besides, it is not obligatory to create a YouTube account to use both features.
  • Facebook App: Each post in this social networking app has a button that allows users to express their wish to see (or not see) something similar to the post at a later date. Users are also allowed to set a notification for specific contacts and groups. At the same time, this app has automated suggestions for new people and interest communities.

So, the outcomes are clear. It is wise to strike a balance between automated personalisation based on user activity and manual control.

The Market Search Strategy

There might be two similar applications on the mobile app market. However, the most successful of them will have more promotion. Visibility merely is higher in the App Store and Play Market charts. Sometimes, it is much more expensive to sell an app than to develop it. A good strategy includes these necessary steps to attract the attention of potential users.

  • Research: At this stage, a developer must figure out everything about target audiences and competitors to determine what people need and to deliver an app in a fresh way.
  • Good Old Landing Page: This is a field for creativity. It is impossible to suggest a perfect formula for this promotional tool. I can list only truisms. A landing page must be descriptive, exciting and catchy and it must arouse desire.
  • ASO (App Store Optimization): This task looks simple, but it requires some magic. The app must have a one-and-only icon and title to remain recognisable throughout the years. It also needs sharp explanatory screenshots and a clear description.
  • Viral Video Content: Video marketing stats show that video content is one of the most effective means of advertising. People naturally like watching videos more than they like reading or listening. This method of perception has the highest efficiency.
  • Social Networking: All smartphone users have social network accounts. It is not necessary to obtain all of them. Developers should choose those networks that hold most of their target audience.

Endless UX Optimization

I have already said that app developers do not have time for mistakes. That is why they must do their best to launch new apps with reusable code and to lighten all components. The fact is, UX optimisation is a perpetual, iterative undertaking. All apps require constant updates to improve their UX. Sometimes they may be rejected, but they still must be frequent enough to keep pace. Users see only the wrapper, but their subconscious does not miss any details. This means there are no limits to code and design improvements.

 

Source : usabilitygeek.com

Author : 

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Designing a Recruitment Tool to help HR Managers

Summary

The aim was to make the process of recruitment easier for HR Managers by building a product that helps keep track of all the information about the hiring process. In order to achieve this, it was important that the product allows HR Managers to keep track of the events performed during the hiring process for each individual opening in the company.

For example, If the manager has Y days to recruit a Product Designer, he should know that the interview round 1 of all the shortlisted candidates should be done in X days (where X<Y).

The Problem

HR Managers rely on different types of software provided by their company, or just use spreadsheets to manage and recruit for different positions.

Handling multiple parts of different types of job openings simultaneously makes it’s too complicated and cumbersome, since different job openings may have a completely different hiring process.


Design Process

User Research

My team was incubated in an HR Consultancy so we had the opportunity to interview and empathize with the HR Managers closely who were recruiting for different companies. Some of the key insights we gained through the process were :

  • The most common problem was not seeing all the job openings on a single screen. Navigating through sheets or screens to see information about different job positions is not what they were fond of.
  • Keeping track of events performed and yet to be performed for a job opening was a hassle.
  • If the Manager knows how many days are spent and how many tasks have been completed for all job openings individually, it’ll help the manager decide which job opening needs more efforts.

Ideation and Wireframing

After conducting interviews and understanding the problems, we had the basic idea of what the HR Managers needed and how our product should help them.

  • The product should be a single screen product as simplicity is the key and most of the HR Managers will have a hard time using complicated/advanced software.
  • There should be a way to keep track of all the events involved in the hiring process for any job.
  • A clear indication should be present which shows whether the manager is completing the events of a particular position before time, on time or if there is some delay.
  • A Signal which shows whether the overall hiring process of a particular job opening is before time, on time or delayed.
  • Also, Pop-ups of any sort had to avoided as it is naturally a bad user experience.

What are SLAs and SLA events in the Recruitment process?

SLA duration or SLA is a time duration given for hiring for a particular position. SLA events are the different events that are to be completed to hire for a particular position. For Example, conducting interview round 1 of all the shortlisted candidate is an SLA event.


Solution

As we had to release our product for beta testers as soon as possible, we did work on the UX but we knew we could do much better on the UI part.

After changing our style guide we kept on iterating and finally came up with a better design.

Source : uxplanet.org

Author : Pankaj Kumar

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Ideation for Design – Preparing for the Design Race

Ideation is easy to define. It’s the process by which you generate, develop and then communicate new ideas. Ideas can take many forms such as verbal, visual, concrete or abstract. The principle is simple to create a process by which you can innovate, develop and actualize new products. Ideation is critical to both UX designers and learning experience designers.

As Pablo Picasso, the artist, said about his creations; “I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.”

deation does not need to be beautiful to be effective. Creating ideas is the main point rather than graphic design as you can see here.

There are many types of new idea and they are commonly found in the following patterns:

  • Problem to solution. Find a problem, find a solution – this is, perhaps, the most common form of ideation.
  • Derivation – where you take an existing idea and then change it (hopefully for the better)
  • Symbiotic – where you take a group of ideas and combine them to form a single coherent idea
  • Revolutionary – where you take an existing principle and smash it and derive a totally new perspective
  • Serendipitous discovery (or accidental discovery) – when an idea turns up when you are in pursuit of something else (penicillin would be a good example of serendipitous discovery)
  • Targeted innovation – an iterative process where the solution is theorized but the path to it is poorly understood. Repeated attempts are used to create the pathway.
  • Artistic innovation – a form of ideation which completely disregards “what is practical” and innovates without constraint
  • Computer aided innovation – where computers are used to probe for solutions and to conduct research

All of these processes can be used by the designer in search of ideas for a project. However, in many cases these are not practical (revolutionary ideation, for example, is generally a once or twice in a lifetime Eureka! moment and not a practical process) or out of budget/time constraints (such as targeted innovation or computer aided innovation).

Thus the designer will seek more practical and prosaic approaches when it comes to ideation including brainstorming, mind mapping, etc.

Ideation on Paper

Almost all ideation techniques can be deployed on paper. Brainstorming and mind mapping, for example, are simply the same process but visualized in different ways.

Thus, in this article, we will examine brainstorming as the key tool for ideation but other tools may be considered on projects to bring about similar results.

deation on paper. This is for a blog’s content but the same principles apply for any kind of ideation. Get it down on sticky notes and then organize ruthlessly.

Rules for Initial Ideation

When you are at the start of the ideation process you want to generate ideas in their multitudes. The idea is to follow a few simple rules, as a team, to deliver lots of ideas. These ideas, once the exercise is complete, can then be examined for practical considerations. The rules are as follows:

  • Prepare the space. Put up posters with user personas, the problem in hand, and any design models or processes that will be used on the project. The more context provided, the easier it should be to come up with ideas.
  • While initial ideation takes place – there are NO BAD IDEAS – the exercise is to create not judge ideas.
  • Unrelated ideas can be parked for another discussion. They should, however, be written down.
  • Volume is important don’t waste time examining any particular idea in depth just write it down and move on.
  • Don’t be afraid to use lots of space. Write ideas on Sticky-Notes and then plaster them on everything in the room. This can help participants connect seemingly unrelated ideas and enhance them,
  • No distractions. Turn off phones, laptops, etc. Lock the door or put a sign outside saying “Do not disturb.” You can’t create ideas when you’re constantly interrupted.
  • Where possible be specific. Draw ideas if you can’t articulate them in writing. Make sure you include as much data as possible to make an idea useful.

Once you have the rules understood. Grab your team and get creative. It can help to do a 10 minute warm up on an unrelated topic to get people thinking before you tackle the problem in hand. Don’t take more than 2 hours for initial ideation.

Laying down rules at the start of an ideation session will help keep things on track throughout. Don’t be afraid to call people’s attention to the rules if they begin to bend or break.

Structuring Your Ideas

Once you’ve got some ideas coming it’s a good idea to group them around specific areas. Some common idea areas include:

  • Pain Points
  • Opportunities
  • Process Steps
  • Personas
  • Metaphors

When You Get Stuck

There are also some simple techniques to get the creative juices flowing when the ideas process gets stuck.

  • Breaking the law. List all the known project constraints and see if you can break them.
  • Comparisons. Taking a single phrase that encapsulates the problem and see if you can find real world examples of this.
  • Be poetic. Try to turn the problem into a poem or haiku. Thinking about the word structures can deliver new ideas.
  • Keep asking “how and why?” – These words make us think and create.
  • Use laddering. Move problems from the abstract to the concrete or vice-versa to consider them from another perspective.
  • Steal ideas. If you get stuck on a particular concept – look to other industries and see how they’ve handled something similar. Of course, in the end you should be emulating in design not copying.
  • Invert the problem. Act like you want to do the exact opposite of what you’ve set out to do – how would you do that instead?
  • Even simple inversions can make us think very differently. Here the inversion of color changes the picture dramatically.

    Review and Filter

    Once you have a large number of ideas; you then need to review and filter these down to something more manageable. It is at this stage that ideas can be discarded as “bad”, kept as “good” or modified into something more useful. It’s best to carry out this exercise a little while after the initial ideation phase so that people have a chance to reflect on the ideation as well as become less personally attached to the original ideas.

    The Take Away

    Creating ideas is often best done in groups – though all the techniques above can be carried out by an individual too. The trick is to just create and keep doing so for an extended period of time. You can worry about works and what doesn’t later. Ideation is one of the most fun things a designer can do but it can also be frustrating if you try and do it by yourself sat in front of a piece of paper.

Source : interaction-design.org

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