Category: UX Design

Category Added for Website – 2017

Top 5 UX Predictions for 2017

Predictions for UX design have already started pouring in. From chatbots, artificial intelligence, self-driven cars to virtual reality, 2017 seems to be packed with a lot of challenges and opportunities for designers. All of these predictions sound cool, cutting edge and path breaking. But what if we have to take a step back? Are there any low-hanging-fruits that the design community can start embracing immediately? Are there things that designers can start thinking right now rather than wait for AI to come into the mainstream? Here are a few grounded-thoughts for 2017.

1- UX and Service Design Come Closer

UX traditionally has been more focussed on research, interaction design and the visual look and feel. Service design, on the other hand, has curated methods to map a holistic strategy for a product or a service. It would be great to see the power of these two disciplines blending in 2017. What if a customer journey map (or any blueprint) becomes as important as delivering a wireframe in a single project? It would be great to see that level of sensitivity ingrained into the mainstream design culture.

2- User Research getting a Facelift

This is probably a bit ironical. A lot of design firms believe in superficial makeup in the name of good design. For instance, user research is mostly the first thing out of the equation when timelines and budget don’t seem to fit the reality. The onus of evangelizing research is on the design leadership within companies. Even if it’s not possible to conduct in-depth user research, there are still ways to include the end users into the design cycle. Maybe we should revisit our beliefs (again) in 2017.

3- IoT becomes the New Playing Field

We have worked on mobile, web and wearables. It would be great to design for a connected world. IoT going a mainstream will open a treasure box for designers to face challenges and explore new opportunities. It would be great to see the knowledge-palette of designers getting a wider canvas. What if we start learning about a bit of hardware as well? Experience design, software, and hardware can be a powerful combination to innovate with.

4- Mobile Phone Interactions to be Less Intrusive

Do these devices give us time to breathe? Can they stop buzzing? What if the OS (iOS/Android) have a greater role to play in crafting broader experiences? What if these devices can predict our actions on a daily basis and do something amazing for us every day? How can we tie together a sea of apps into a singular meaningful experience? Maybe something to ponder on.

5- Mobile Apps, Browsers, What Next?

What if 2017 is not about 20 different apps landscaping your home screen? What if 2017 is not about a chrome or a safari? What if this app vs browser war comes to an end? What if MacWorld 2007 repeats itself? This time challenging its own creation – the smartphone apps. Instead of being all about sleek and powerful, will 2017 be about new ways for people to interact with the web beyond apps and browsers?

We are always curious to hear what you have to say, please do leave a comment to share your take on UX/UI trends for 2017.

Role Playing in User Experience Design — A Real Case Study

Very recently, we were designing a mobile app. for NBA fans to help them order food inside a stadium. One of the key aspects of the ordering experience was the information about the pickup stands.These stands were located all over the stadium. These stands will prepare the order, and notify the users to pick the order once it is ready.

One of the key challenges was to model the information about these stands in the entire experience. We identified a couple of places where talking about the stands would have made sense. For example, when the user fires up the app. (the stadiums are huge and a knowing the nearest pickup stand can be useful before you order). Along with the menu (this pickup stand offers this menu). During checkout (you are about to place this order, it will be processed by this pickup stand). Or once the order is placed (the order you just placed will be ready at XYZ stand, here are the directions to the stand).

At the first sight, these pickup stands seem to warrant a mention pretty much everywhere in the navigation flow. However, we had our doubts on this omnipresent nature of these stands. After all, the app. is about ordering food, and not about the pickup stands.

Ideally, user research would have been a fact-based answer to such a dilemma. But, we didn’t have much scope of doing it in this project (sad part). However, we still wanted to get an answer to make an informed design decision. To do this, we decided to role-play our ideas. It was time to start having a conversation with our design concepts. We banked on the role-playing technique proposed by Stephen Anderson in his book Seductive Interaction Design. It requires a browser window prop (see image below) and a willing participant. The participant will ask me (the interface behind the prop) simple questions as s/he tries to place an order.

Role Playing The Browser — Technique proposed by Stephen P. Anderson in his book Seductive Interaction Design
Role Playing The Browser — Technique proposed by Stephen P. Anderson in his book Seductive Interaction Design

Some startling results came out of this. In short, we understood:

  • how to model these stands in the entire navigation
  • what is the most crucial information about these stands (we clipped a lot of pieces which we initially thought were relevant)
  • a reason why users will care to know (and not know) too much about these stands

Here are the BEFORE and AFTER version of the conversation.

page_2__1_

One simple technique, startling results! We should, however, employ usability testing techniques to validate our designs.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away

– Antoine De Saint-Exupery

eCommerce Shopping Cart — No. of items or Cart Value?

ecommerce-Shopping cart

Shopping cart has become the name of the game for e-commerce websites like Amazon, Flipkart, or for any e-retailer that you can think of. It has become a common experience metaphor used widely in the online world.

However, the way the cart’s behavior is modelled isn’t always the same. There are subtle nuances (not very apparent as you shop) that often vary across these sites.

Recently, we were designing an experience for a mobile application that allowed sports fans to order snacks & drinks inside a basketball stadium. It’s like you are watching a game in the stadium, cheering for your team, emotions are high, and you would like to order something to munch on as you watch the game. Well, from an experience perspective, understanding the environment was crucial to craft the right experience. Like considering the implications of fans cheering on their teams, noise levels inside the stadium, not so well-lit arenas, the game being the central part of their focus, etc. This blog isn’t going to talk about all the design considerations, but will talk about something small, which turned out to be a brain teaser.

This app, as it turned out, had a CART metaphor, again! One of these subtleties was the choice between showing the number of items in the cart v/s the total cost of the cart, or both? Well, sounds like we never notice this when we shop online, but yes, we wanted to ensure the design decisions follow a strong rationale, no matter how small the decision was. Also, we didn’t want to copy somebody, just because “they did it like that…”.

There has been a lot of discussion on this topic, some advocating that we show both pieces of information while others suggesting that either no. of items or the cart value should suffice. Certainly, each approach comes with its own rationale.

Our study led us to settle down to show ONLY the number of items in the cart, and not the total cost of the cart, and here’s why:

Cart concept is actually a borrowed concept. It started from the e-commerce domain. The shopping behavior in websites like amazon is different from what we had in our case. Amazon (or any other e-commerce marketplace) for instance, will have an extensive portfolio of products. Our app. on the other hand was going to have a shallow menu to choose snacks and drinks from.

Number of Items (yes, our choice):

Our portfolio of items/menu was shallow. It’s wasn’t like amazon where users will spend maybe half an hour or more to go and browse, pick up stuff. Another thing to notice is people don’t buy multiples (of the same product) on amazon. You won’t buy (usually) 3 MacBooks at the same time, and then add 3 more iPhones over it. And that’s the same reason you won’t see the choice of a number of items when you are picking up the item on such sites.

In our case, it was different. It’s more about quickly browsing the menu, and one of the primary actions was to add multiples of the same item (imagine you going to the stadium to watch a match with your family and friends). Multiple burgers, beers will most likely end up in your cart.

We thus made the feedback of adding an item (or its multiples) very clear by associating the action with its implications on the cart. Like every tap bounces the cart and the number increments.

Another question, should 4 burgers, 2 fries = 6 items or 2 items. Seems like not a big deal, but something to ponder on. We went for the initial choice (i.e 6 items) since the action of adding an item is closely tied up with its implication on the cart. The feedback sets up a good mental model and shows how this thing works (and the number of items you end up picking at the pickup counter).

Price of the Cart:

Here we tried to answer a higher level question, which was to think about the importance of the cart icon on the top-right of the screen (something common you see). At a very high level, the cart sits there mainly to give a sense that there is something there to be checked out. Showing total price of items along with the cart doesn’t seem to offer too much of value. Will users not order if the cart shows $30 instead of $28? It’s an in-stadium experience, users are not going to care too much about the final cost of the cart. It’s like you going to a theater to watch a movie. Will you not buy popcorns for 5 times their regular price? And not to mention we were levying a few dollars of the convenience fee. Cost doesn’t seem to thus make too much sense along the cart icon in this experience.

We finally agreed on this equation:

  • We show number of items (4 burgers2, 2 fries) = 6 items
  • We ensure the interactions (like cart bounces) + visual emphasis (we can further highlight the cart for e.g once items are added)
  • Although the spatial position of the cart is pretty evident and common, we can include with it a forward chevron to give a sense of further navigation to the checkout screen.

Well, something small, but turned out to be quite a brain teaser. Certainly, this equation might turn out to be different in the context of what you are designing for. Thinking about these subtleties, after all makes the whole difference.

UX Surgeries — Interesting Differences in B2B v/s B2C World

UX-Surgeries B2B Vs B2C

User experience design has really got deep into both enterprise and the consumer digital world. This has resulted in some interesting observations in terms of how product owners respond to UX services, depending on whether the product undergoing UX surgery falls into B2B or a B2C category.

Let’s Talk B2B Products: This landscape is changing and changing really fast. Competition is aggressive, and B2B companies have realized UX can give them an edge in the competitive landscape. Consumerisation of UX is on the roll; product owners no longer want to continue with the ugly face of their products. They are open to design companies who can perform a complete UX surgery on their products. They are open to revisit the product strategy, they are open to relook at the information architecture, they are really open to a new freshness UX designers bring on the table. In short, they want to simplify the legacy which has grown into a beast. Unlike in the B2C world, enterprise product owners have a slight advantage. Their users are ‘paid’ to use the product. Whether the surgery is forced down-the-throat of the end users or is welcomed by them, they do not have an option to refuse. Keeping the pessimism aside; 99.9% times a UX surgery is like fresh air and takes the user experience to the next level.

Let’s Talk B2C Products: This is a different landscape altogether, and for a good reason. It’s all about money, it’s about revenues. It’s like touching a live wire. Consumers have all the reasons to switch to competing products without a second thought. In such a context, you’ve got to be careful. B2C product owners, for this reason, are normally apprehensive about design revamps. Nobody wants to see a negative impact on their customer base.

As a UX consultant, this game can pose some new challenges in front of you. You can get too constrained to try out new things. In such cases, it’s your responsibility to educate your clients about possible ways to make the transition happen, to rationalize your design suggestions. It’s up to you to know the rules of the game, strategize the transition. To help your client meet the business objectives and grow their customer base, and progressively transition the existing customers to the new experience. Technically, a B2C design project should place more emphasis on user research, validation and testing techniques like concept testing, A/B testing, in qualitative or quantitative forms. These activities should find a proper presence in the design roadmap. After all, the facts derived from quantitative and qualitative research/testing techniques should inform how you transition the users to a new experience, and still meet the business objectives.

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