What does simplicity in UX design look like?

By | Branding, UX Design

For over a decade, designers have debated what constitutes simplicity in user experience design.

As Robert Hoekman Jr. points out in his article When It Comes to UX Design, Simplicity is Overrated, the variation in semantics is confusing. Simplicity could refer to a clean design (then there’s the disparity of what “clean” actually looks like), the complexity of the experience, or even the required coding.

These definitions can vary further between users and designers, and clients and stakeholders.

“As designers, we assume we all agree on its meaning. To us, simplicity is a high goal of design,” Hoekman Jr. writes in the aforementioned article. “‘Simple’ is a relative word, granted. It has no definitive value; the simplicity of a thing can only be measured in comparison to something more complex.”

It turns out simplicity is actually quite complicated.

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Looking for a good example of simplicity in UX design? Google it

When defining simplicity by aesthetic, perhaps there is no more perfect an example than Google. When a user goes to the website, they are presented with only one input: the search bar. This search bar then auto fills possible search queries based on complicated algorithms before pulling a list of relevant search results. Compare this to Yahoo, where a user is bombarded with information and options.

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To the user, both Google’s interface and the experience are simple and self-explanatory even though the backend of the application is not.

“I think simplicity ties in a lot with intuition. That notion of whether the user experience is intuitive in nature makes the end result a very simple and delightful user experience,” said Dominic Wong, the head of experience design at Invoke. “Do I know instinctively what to do? And if I if I go out and do it, is it actually aligning to my behavioral expectations of an experience?”

The simplicity of Google is perhaps part of the reason why “Google it” became a part of our lexicon. The experience is designed in such a fashion that it is easy for a user to find what they are looking for—and find it quickly.

[UX] is threatened when the simplicity of an interface design comes at the expense of usability

User experience is threatened when the simplicity of an interface design comes at the expense of usability, such as when elements are buried, buttons are not labeled clearly, or the user is unfamiliar with the navigation. Even simple design needs to be strategic and take into account the users’ customs.

“Simplicity has to tie in with how to guide someone to intuitively make decisions,” Wong said.

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User experience in the age of instant gratification

When it comes to simplicity and functionality, maintaining consistency in what a user innately expects from an experience is perhaps equally as important as accounting for the fact that today’s users are also accustomed to getting what they want right away.

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Like it or not, we’re deep in the age of instant gratification and this needs to be taken into consideration when designing a user experience.

“People are expecting less flashiness and a certain level of utility,” Wong said.

“I think nowadays when the visual or stylistic elements become overbearing, it actually detracts from the experience.”

While there are opportunities to create lush user experiences and interfaces, they need to be appropriate to the end goal—both that of the user and of the design. You don’t want the user interface to distract from the user experience. Rather, you want to offer the user what they came for in a prompt manner that is easy to follow and understand.

“The best way to grab attention and build interest is to present a single core idea, fully fledged,” wrote Daniel Ritzenthaler on 52 Weeks of UX. “This allows the user to make a binary decision about it: ‘Am I interested or not?’ Introducing a feature in a way that people can instantly map it to a desired outcome will help them prioritize and be confident about their next step.”

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Creating simple user experiences despite complex needs

One might think then that simplicity equates to minimalism, but it is more about giving users only what they need. When you give the user just enough, simplicity can prevail, even when dealing with complex applications.

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Wong spoke of a recent project involving the redesign of a dental application that required numerous complicated, but essential elements. The experience needed to be simple to use without sacrificing the complexity of the interface. The team had to design the experience so that the application contained all the necessary elements, but only showed the user what was necessary for the desired outcome at that moment.

You don’t want to include anything that will distract or require someone to put more effort into obtaining what they need to obtain—Dominic Wong

While much of simplicity’s semantics continue to be debated, Wong says in the end it’s really about this one very thing: serving users what they need, when they need it in the most straightforward way possible.

Online brand-building 101

By | Branding

Building a brand online is a different task to traditional brand building. Of course it won’t hurt to combine the offline and online marketing techniques, and indeed for best results, you should do that. Too many times clients think that all they need to do is have a website made for them and then they can sit back and count the money as millions of visitors arrive at their site.

The reality of the situation is quite a bit different, as they soon discover. Then the force of their frustration is often directed at the website designer, as if to say that the design is the reason for the failure. Usually it is not the case that the design is to blame, but rather that the site owner has done nothing to promote the site either online or offline.

In this article, we’ll look at what designers or marketer can do to improve things for the success of their clients, or at least what advice you should be giving to your clients to avoid getting those nasty emails where they direct all their stored up frustrations at you.

1. Just building a site is not enough, unless you have one hell of a unique niche

Building a successful online presence with zero promotion is close to impossible. The only way you can really do it is by creating something so completely amazing that it markets itself just by being accidentally discovered. The chances of that happening are microscopically small, so it’s not a clever strategy. You must promote your site in some way. It does not necessarily mean that you have to spend money, but you have to dosomething. Just building a site does not ensure success.

2. Start with the name and go from there

Obviously with any brand, it’s all about the name, so it makes sense to start with that. Want some proof? When Prince decided to change his name to a symbol and have people refer to him as “the Artist Formerly Known as Prince” that generated instant long-term viral publicity, because it was talked about, parodied and mocked for days. All of that made Prince suddenly relevant again at a time people were not paying much attention to him.

Choose a good name, one that makes you stand out. An ideal name has some kind of positive association, is easy to remember, easy to spell, and universally possible to pronounce. That’s actually a lot harder to achieve than you may at first think.

Once you have decided on a good name, your first step should be to purchase the domain name. Then you can start worrying about other things like creating a logo or what color your stationery should be. Your name is your most important business asset, so give choosing it the respect it deserves.

3. Make your logo easy to scale, equally good in color or monochrome, and easy to recognize

Logos are also important, and because you’re going to be including your logo in your web design, it should be something that is easy to fit into a web design. Therefore obviously logos that will easily fit into a rectangular space are better than logos that contain huge circles, for example, because circles don’t scale down well. You get a lot of wasted space around the edges of the circle, because websites need everything to fit inside a rectangle. The size of a circle determines the size of the rectangle required to contain it.

A good logo also should be easy to identify even when it is not shown in its normal color scheme. It is a very common mistake for inexperienced graphic designers to create logos that are mostly based on color and derive their identity from color. Don’t make that mistake.

4. Create social media pages before you create the website

This may sound eccentric, but there is a good reason for doing it this way. You can use social media to build hype about your site (and brand) before the site is launched.

5. Build hype on social media, and invest in this as much as you can

No matter what else you do, the most important thing you are going to do before launching your brand’s website is to build hype about your brand first. Or at least make sure that people know your name and remember it.

John West (manufacturers of canned fish products) did this successfully in the late 1990s and early 2000s when they released a series of video ads that people felt compelled to share. Other brands have since followed suit, such as Panda dairy products.

Don’t waste your time on something small. Whatever you’re going to do, make it big. Make an impact. Make sure everyone is talking about it. Those ads I talked about are years old now, and yet here I am writing about them in this article, extending their virality. That’s the kind of notoriety you have to reach for.

6. Build an awesome “coming soon” page

Some experts will tell you to skip this step, and say it’s bad to have an announcement that your page is under construction. But what would those guys know? There’s every chance that stirred by the brilliant viral marketing campaign you unleashed in step 5, a lot of people will try to jump the gun and check out your website before you’re ready to show it off. That’s OK, as long as you have something there to keep them interested. Get them to bookmark you, ask them to subscribe to your RSS feed, get them to part with their email address… whatever you can do to make it easy to tell them when the site is ready for their viewing pleasure.

Just make sure you don’t do this by halves. You have to commit as heavily to this step as any other, and make a page that really creates buzz. Ideally people will be talking to each other about how awesome your “under construction” site is, and that will build anticipation in their minds that the real site will blow them away when it finally arrives. And they’ll want to be there to see that.

7. Build a website that’s every bit as good as you promised

If you’ve built up a lot of hype and momentum about your site while it was being constructed, it has to actually meet expectations. Whatever you’ve built it has to be big, it has to be relevant, and it has to be better than anything that has existed before it.

That is indeed a tall order, but it is vital if you are going to be successful in getting to the top of the heap and fending off all challengers. Your website obviously must look good, but it also shouldn’t have anything there that you can’t explain the purpose of. You should know exactly why anything that appears on your page is there. It should be easy to navigate and well written. Content is everything, and especially the text.

8. Make dealing with you a pleasant experience

Web users won’t excuse bad behavior. Be a good host and take care of your visitors. Your customer service should be of an excellent standard, and it should be easy for anyone to communicate with you. Keep up your social media presence as well, and hire dedicated staff to handle only that task if you can afford to.

Following the above tips should help you build a strong online brand that engages an audience and makes them like you. The key to it all is to keep your integrity, deliver what people want, and get attention by being the best.

4 Ways Hiring a Professional Web Design Group Improves Your Business

By | Hiring | No Comments

Creating and designing a fully functional website can prove frustrating, and time exhausting. Simply using a pre-made template, free or purchased, can result in an easily overlooked page that doesn’t quite suit your company’s brand or message. A web development team, however, can create beautiful, functional and personalized website designs that emphasize your business, while making it look more professional to boot! There are numerous benefits that come along with hiring a professional team of web designers, from saving yourself time to increasing your traffic.

How Professional Web Development Helps

1.     Give your site an all-around more professional appearance.

When a team of talented professionals work together on a website’s development and design, it generally results in a creative webpage that works on a multi-platform level. Most visitors, or potential clientele, look for a page that looks good and is simple to use. With a personalized webpage you can greatly enhance your leads, which means improving on sales. As first impressions are important, having a professional website can be what makes or breaks you. For example, with Creonix, a web design and development company, you will find a team of skilled individuals. They offer a wide range of expertise, ensuring that no matter your end goals, you are in safe hands.

2.     They know the language.

Designing and developing a website means you need the knowledge and know how to successfully code the entire page. PHP, HTML, CSS, C++ and so many other computer languages are necessary to create your website. It determines how the various functions interact with one another, as well as the overall appearance and feel to the web page. Rather than learning yourself, or fumbling through the coding for a premade template, a team of professionals can ensure that your page functions the way it was intended to. You will have clean code and a website that runs perfect no matter the browser, or platform.

3.     Get a leg up on competitors in your market!

Google, and other search engines, rank many pages based on a variety of factors. One such factor includes your web design and changes that may be regularly made. A professional team is constantly working to improve your site, while running tests to ensure it is being properly developed. While your competition may be online, your own personalized website will keep you standing out from the crowd, while continuously improving your online visibility.

4.     They have the experience and resources necessary.

From photoshop to scripting and MYSQL, a professional web design agency can aid you in all aspects of your website, from purchasing the domain to hosting the website and even IT services. These aren’t directly related to website hosting, but they are deeply connected to one another. Agencies can also provide solutions to unforeseen problems, and help you to create an engaging online presence by connecting you with content creators, marketers and experts of all variety.

Overall, a functional website that stands out is deeply important to a business breaking out into the online scene.

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