3 Ways to Improve UX by Content Alone

When you think of User Experience Design, the word “design” might create the notion that UX is 100% design related. While it is certainly a major factor, there are other elements such as copy and content which can easily make or break the experience of your users. Putting all of your attention in to design elements can ensure you have a beautiful app or website. Failing to consider copy and content could ruin it all.

Here are 3 easy ways to improve your user experience by copy and content alone:

1. Short and sweet copy is an awesome UX

Whether it’s writing for search engine optimization, or if it’s wanting to boast yourself a little too much, there’s too many sites these days that are loaded with copy.  In reality, there’s no real need for so much copy. Your users are intelligent, and they also have a seriously short attention span. If they can’t scan your site in under 5 seconds, there’s a good chance you’re going to lose them.

Here are two great examples from the HR Consulting Industry. Can you notice the difference smart copy makes? (You’ll want to click the image to enlarge)

 FGP HR Consulting Website Thumbnail Better With Bacon Website Thumbnail The chances that the majority of your users are going to read all of your copy, word for word, is extremely slim. By developing your copy to allow for scannability and by highlighting key areas the viewer should focus on, you have a much better chance to convert a lead, or to simply have your user stick around a bit longer.

2. Microcopy

Microcopy is the text you’re using on buttons, forms, labels, etc. It’s the “click here” and “sign up” buttons you might be using on your website, or the UI elements you’re utilizing for your app. Regardless of how you’re using them, they are the difference between having a vague call-to-action and a compelling one that guides your users well.

One simple example is the all too familiar use of the “submit” button. Submit a form. Submit your email address. Whatever you’re doing, “submit” is bland and lacks any interest. Add some flair instead “Join Now”, “Start Banking”, etc. are much better ways to go.

Checking out two examples from the IT Consulting Industry, we can see a huge difference (click to enlarge):

Hitachi Consulting is using the “Click Here” button which provides close to nothing. It’s not enjoyable. It’s not persuasive. There aren’t any nouns.

Hitachi Consulting Website Thumbnail

 

BMC does an excellent job on the other hand. “Discover MyIT”, “Let’s Get Started”, “Master the Cloud”.

 

BMC Software Website Thumbnail

3. Continued Ease

With the above examples, maybe you’re a BMC or BW Bacon. Your messaging is clear and concise. Your microcopy is fantastic. Your users are clicking-through and getting to where you want them to go. You can easily ruin everything you worked on and disappoint your users with a sloppy user experience on the very next page. Let’s take a look at two examples surrounding Canadian Immigration.

 Alberta Immigration Website

The copy starts off short and sweet. It’s concise and gets the user to move on their way instead of reading paragraphs of copy. Good! We also have a defined call-to-action with their “learn more” button, though it could be improved.

The next page is as close to a collage as you can get. Regardless of what you want to do, you’re forced to read through over 600 words (200 less than this article) in order to determine where you want to go. Scannability is gone. Call-to-actions disappear. They got the user to stage two, and then left them to fend for themselves.

 Alberta Immigration Website Thumbnail

Canada Immigration has done a better job. While there aren’t any major call-to-actions, we are guided to first determine what info we’re interested in. Perhaps we want to visit Canada as a tourist. Once we get to the page we want, the content is laid out well. Short and sweet. Overall, a much better experience.

 

Visit Canada as a Tourist

Keep your experience strong

This article has discussed websites primarily. All of the information rings true if you’re working on an app, or an intranet project. It’s important to remember that UX isn’t 100% about design. It’s about providing a rewarding experience for your user. By keeping your copy short and to the point, directing your user down a path and compelling them to go down it, and by ensuring there aren’t any hiccups in their experience, you can ensure a positive experience.

 There are plenty of other sites and apps out there. The more vague and laborious you make your experience, the more you’re compelling your users to head elsewhere. Keep them with you by keeping this info in mind. Your users will thank you for it!

Jul 30th, 2013
TAGS

The Top 5 Usability Myths

Usability Myths
When it comes to technology, there are various guidelines that are essential for good user experience. This includes accessibility, user interface, information architectures and usability. UX design is the ultimate human vs. computer interaction where certain methods and techniques are employed to produce a desired, predictable and well executed result. Accessibility, user interface, information architectures and usability can be controlled by a designer to suit the uncontrolled aspects like goals, user’s lifestyle and even habits. UX design uses the controlled aspects of technology to suit the uncontrolled.

Usability is a controlled aspect of UX design that seeks to ensure the end-user doesn’t strain or doesn’t encounter problems with the use of a web page or navigation. There are several myths that have been put up concerning usability in respect to UX design. These myths tend to make UX design seems like an unlikable aspect of computer technology when it simply shouldn’t be. The top 5 usability myths are:

Usability Makes Things Easy
Usability is not about making everything easy. The main areas that are brought about by usability are efficiency, effectiveness and ultimate satisfaction to the end user. Efficiency is in the sense that users perform the intended task with desired speed and can execute the desired command. Effectiveness measures its availability and unavailability. It brings the sense of comparison between usability with technology and without technology. Finally is the end user satisfied with what it’s capable of doing?

Usability Is Expensive
This is never the case as it’s normally portrayed. If, for example, only a limited number of users can access a page while others can’t because of lack of proper page formats. This doesn’t mean you will pull down the whole page, but it will just need additions or modifications on content to suit all. This will incur some costs, but in the long run it will be well worth it.

Usability Is Inquiring From Users Their Preference
Although usability is human centered, getting the right set of user preferences is far better than asking just a handful of users. The end users are the best source of information, but it should not be taken blindly. Getting the facts, across the board, helps to ensure it’s consistent before finalizing on usability.

Usability Must Look Nice
This will be a clear indication of misplaced priorities. The first goal of usability is efficiency and effectiveness while beauty comes later. Aesthetic value comes after it has been proved that a product is usable. One must dwell on the products usability before embarking on working on the beauty of the product.

Usability Can’t Be Measured
Before embarking on improving a product, its usefulness has to be measured in order to ascertain its efficiency and effectiveness. Several parameters are essential in carrying out an assessment in order to determine where and what to improve or change to get maximum usage. Before improving, a measure has to be taken so that the final product, when compared with the original, will clearly show the differences.

Conclusion
Always know the difference between a luxury product and a usability product. This will set apart the necessary improvements from the unnecessary improvements. In usability, the aim in increasing UX design is neither luxury nor beauty. The 5 items listed here are not an exhaustive list of all usability myths, but they do seem to be the most common when it comes to  making a new product or making improvements on an already existing product.

The Importance of UX in the banking industry

Bank Sign

As people, we all care about money. It’s not unusual for a person to want to check his/her bank account at least once a week, and it’s self-explainable why. We live in a financially-driven world, and many things revolve around our account balance. Therefore, even if we like it or not, we’re constantly in need to make financial decisions. When it comes to money, these decisions are mostly in regard to value exchange and transactions.When operating an ATM, using online banking services to pay for bills and/or to check the account, or when accessing financial services on our mobile phones, we always get in touch with user experience design. That being said, a quality design can ease the way people handle their finances, can reduce the time needed to access certain features, and can lead to a more pleasant experience overall. By comparison, a poorly thought out design can easily lead to the customer getting angry or upset and thus orient himself towards the competitions services.

Financial institutions have always focused on the performance of their products and services in order to attract customers. This focus hasn’t changed much over the years, although users have become more impatient and are seeking an immediate response to their needs and issues. User experience design plays a very important role in this, as it can facilitate users’ access to a number of services.

We live in a society where the market competition is highly fierce, and this is especially true when speaking about the banking sector. Nowadays, there are so many banks and financial institutions on the market that customers can be easily tempted to switch from one to the other. However, smart banks know how to adapt to customers’ expectations by making use of technology, and this is easily revealed by looking at their profitability stats. Banks which have understood that an adaptation to customers’ needs is essential had the most to gain, both in terms of clients as well as in revenue.

But how does UX design influence this field? In more than one way! Consider that user experience does not apply only to a website, although this aspect is perhaps the most important of all. Customers interact in person with self service ATMs, mobile banking, internet banking, pay by phone services and more. All these take UX design into account, for in the absence of it, there would be nothing else but tech-savvy devices that only few would know how to use.

The right user experience design can show the user exactly what he/she has to do to complete certain actions faster and easier, thus ultimately leading him to achieving his goals. And a user who understood how the bank’s product/service works from the first time will certainly be a satisfied user, one that is going to recommend the institution to everybody he knows. But perhaps more importantly, the right UX design can prevent users from suffering a negative experience, and thus there is a significantly higher chance for them to remain loyal to the bank for longer.

The “fad” of flat design?

iOS 7 Flat User Interface Design

Flat Design

There’s been a lot of press these days surrounding Jony Ive, from Apple, bringing flat design to iOS 7. He’s had a direct impact on the design of Apple hardware since 1992 and is now bringing his talent to the software space. A TechCrunch article back in April announced this move with a post titled “Apple’s Jony Ive Said To Be Bringing The Flat Design Fad To iOS 7 With Visual Overhaul ”. There is one particularly irritating word in the post’s title – “fad”. Flat design is not a fad. It’s always existed. Today’s flat design is born out of freedom. It’s a natural progression based on today’s technology. As the new look of iOS 7 was just released, now is a good time to discuss the changes that occurred, from skeuomorphism to flat.

Skeuomorphism

In the possible event that you’re unaware of skeuomorphism, you should know that it’s heavily influenced by Apple. The first user interface introduced by Apple back in 1984 introduced ‘desktops’ and icons. As these concepts were new to most users, visual metaphors were required in order to help users learn. Skeuomorphism was a very valuable tool. The focus is on making objects familiar.

Essentially, we’re dealing with digital elements that are made to look like physical world objects. By presenting users with visual cues that they are already familiar with, they are understood. Today, iOS’ look is primarily skueomorphic. It’s filled with various 3D effects, shadows, and textures. Apparently, the skeuomorphic look is a direct attribution to Steve Jobs.

Flat Design

Flat design is gaining attention primarily by Microsoft’s Windows 8 as well as Google Now. Both focus on minimialistic design that is emphasizing usability, colours, and typography. With flat design, generally speaking, the obvious visual cues and textures are gone. Apple is now in the spotlight for embracing this principle with iOS 7. This change can be directly attributed to Jony Ive.

Flat design is aimed at utilizing the strengths of digital interfaces, rather than limiting the interfaces to real world confines. We can take a good look at Jony Ive’s view on this aspect from a Telegraph interview: “Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple. ”

The constraints or lack thereof

So why the shift to flat design?

1. Familiarity

Users no longer need analog world visual cues to understand how to use an interface. They’ve been there before. They know what a folder is. They know what a desktop is. They know how to use a button, and they understand what an icon is.

2. Smartphones

There’s no need to point out the importance of smartphones. Responsive design is now all the rage due to the massive amount of users visiting sites, or utilizing apps, via smartphones. By designing with a smartphone in mind, you realize that you can’t load a site up with massive graphics.

3. Display capabilities

Effects simply aren’t required anymore thanks to better display resolutions. The retina display, for example, provides such great resolution that the fakery that comes with skeuomorphism is no longer required. How often do you see this in good print design? Rarely. With good print design, the techniques from skeuomorphism isn’t required thanks to the beautiful resolutions possible from print.

4. Good Design

Simply put, flat design is almost a nod to the design of the past. That time before computers where flat images were required thanks to the restraints of printing. Furthermore, when “everyone” is utilizing skeuomorphism, why not buck the trend if you have the ability to do so?

Speaking of good design, now is a great opportunity to review Dieter Rams “10 Principles of Good Design”.

1. Good design is innovative
2. Good design makes a product useful
3. Good design is aesthetic
4. Good design makes a product understandable
5. Good design is unobtrusive
6. Good design is honest
7. Good design is long-lasting
8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail
9. Good design is environmentally friendly
10. Good design is as little as possible

Now, think about these points one more time:

Good design is honest
Good design is as little as possible

There are times when skeuomorphism is required, and there are times when flat design is required. It’ll be entirely based on the project you’re developing. If you require realism and its real-world visual cues, then go with skeuomorphism. If something requires a flat, minimal design, then work for flat design. Work on both if needed.

With Apple diving in to the world of flat design, they aren’t joining the so-called ‘fad’ of flat design. They are, instead, focusing on the principals of good design. Isn’t that a good thing?

The HEART of Your Users’ Experience

Heart MetricsWhen deploying a web application on a large scale, it is important to gauge the level of user experience that users get when using the system.

For a long time, PULSE has been used to measure the quality of the user experience and provide data. However, it has had some shortcomings and this led to the introduction of HEART. This is an additional framework for user experience metrics which stands for happiness, engagement, and retention and task success. These metrics can track progress by UX teams towards certain goals. Happiness involves satisfaction of the user while task success is made up of both effectiveness of the system and its efficiency. The other three categories have been brought about by the availability of data about user behavior on a large scale. This framework is aimed at making the principles of user experience design easier to follow. It is important to keep in mind that not all the categories have to be used at the same time and one can always decide to exclude a category or two. This depends on the context in which the user experience metrics are being measured. The categories reviewed in more detail are:

1. Happiness
These are the attitude based metrics involving aspects such as the perceived ease of use of the system, the visual appeal, the likelihood to recommend and the overall satisfaction when using the system. These can be tracked easily by employing the use of a properly designed survey that tracks this metric over time showing progress as changes are being made to the system. The data from this metric is very important when deciding on new designs and determining the success level of design changes made.

2. Engagement
This refers to how involved the user is with a product. In terms of metrics, this refers to how frequently the user gets to interact with the system. This can be, for instance, the number of weekly visits, or even the amount of new content generated by the user. This is usually reported as a per user average. This metric is good for predicting user retention in the long term.

3. Adoption and Retention
This is a very important metric for distinguishing new users from existing ones. Adoption metrics are used to identify the number of new users over a given period of time. On the other hand, retention metrics are used to track down how many new users are still using the product after some time. Usage of a product may vary, depending on the factors that the UX team decides upon. In some cases, just visiting a website may count as usage while in other cases, there has to be something done in order to count as usage. The duration over which retention is measured may vary depending on the relative age of the product and stability.

4. Task Success
This combines several traditional metrics of user experience such as effectiveness, efficiency and the rate of errors. On a large scale, this can be done using a remote usability or a benchmark study. In the benchmark study, each user is assigned a specific task to carry out. Using server side log data can be quite a task, as one will not be able to know exactly what task the user was carrying out. If there is a defined sequence to carrying out a task however, one can easily measure which of the steps were followed by the user hence giving a measure of effectiveness and error rate. This is a very important metric when deciding on new features and major changes to a system.

At the end of the day, HEART metrics are meant to act as a pulse of your overall user experience. If you haven’t considered utilizing such a framework, perhaps now is the time to do so.

Redesigning A Revolutionary School App

We’ve had the great pleasure in working with LiveSchool. LiveSchool is an app for schools and teachers that truly revolutionizes the way that classes are managed.

Imagine being in grade school, and having your school performance monitored and tracked? Everything from how many times a student raised their hand, how long they’ve been on a washroom break, how well their homework was completed, and how much respect they show. Students then can receive a type of paycheck, based on their performance, where they can then use the ‘funds’ to buy rewards. It’s amazing, and it certainly shows the new model for education in the 21st Century.

Rossul Design worked to provide highly optimized workflows and a minimal learning curve. Another aspect which was very enjoyable to work on was vision anomaly testing. Here, we ensured the app would be accessible for those with visual impairments.

Take a look at the screenshots below. You’ll see the before & after progress. Hope you enjoy!

LiveSchool App Design Before Working With Rossul Design LiveSchool App GUI Design Process
LiveSchool GUI Design After Working With Rossul Design

The Importance of User Interface Design For Employees

Many business owners and entrepreneurs are fully aware that without a proper website and easy-to-use applications, it is practically impossible to remain competitive in today’s day and age. A lot of importance is being placed on the need to compete with other businesses, so that consumers are encouraged to check out the firm’s website and/or applications, and hopefully, make a transaction of some sort.

There is nothing wrong with this of course. However, many employers and managers fail to notice that besides the consumers out there, the firm also has other ‘consumers’. These are the firm’s employees who make use of various software applications to carry out their job on a daily basis. Unfortunately, even though a firm invests heavily in regular updates of its website and applications in order to satisfy customers’ ever-growing demands, not all businesses appreciate the importance of investing in intranets and software applications that their staff utilizes.

However, if the design of such intranets and software are outdated, or within ‘a dinosaur age’, there are various repercussions. That is why employers and managers need to ensure that this trend is avoided. The user experience is of utmost importance, in all types of applications. If the interface is outdated and not easy to use, then the user is bound to get fed up. This leads to lack of motivation, which will in turn affect the employee’s performance negatively. Furthermore, you can expect help-desk calls to continue, and employee engagement to remain low.

Nowadays we have got used to enticing layouts and easy-to-use interfaces. So, if one goes to work and ends up facing an obsolete interface, with dull colors, complicated menus and boring layouts, he/she will surely feel discouraged. After all, nobody likes to work in such conditions. Just as the physical environment needs to be well maintained so as to ensure that an employee feels at home, the virtual environment needs to be given due importance as well.

Innovative and interesting enterprise applications will not only benefit workers, but also the firm itself. Employees will be able to complete tasks easily and much more quickly if they are provided with proper tools and intuitive user interfaces. This will save money for the firm as there will be higher productivity levels, less wastages and reduced training costs. The enterprise’s learning curve will decrease too.

Employees need to take care of various business processes. Hence, it is best to encourage them to complete their respective tasks as quickly as possible. For example, rather than having the employee browse through numerous files, or scroll through countless pages or documents, there should be an easy-to-use system that allows him/her to complete the particular process with just a few clicks. This is often possible thanks to a properly designed interface, a well laid out page or program, and the availability of information. The more processes are streamlined, and the more the user’s needs and preferences are kept in mind, the better an application will be. By harnessing the success of mobile applications in this day and age, we can better appreciate what needs to be done in order to acquire a good interface design for enterprise applications.

5 User Interface Design Features That Need To Stop

When designing a user interface, it is important to create a good end user experience. In fact, some features that are popular can be a real annoyance to your visitors. In this article, we will cover 5 user interface design features that are commonly seen online that provide a horrible user experience.

1. CAPTCHA

As the internet has increased in popularity, so has spam. However, spam is more of a technical problem rather than a human problem. All of this can be stopped on a technical level. Making the user pay by having to fill in forms with ambiguous letters makes interaction with your website a chore. Spam is easy to catch in many cases because spambots share a similar design and have predictable behavior. For example, when fighting spam and deciding on your user interface design, the following questions will help you identify the real users on your site:

1. How long did it take to fill in the form? If it was a matter of seconds, it’s probably a spambot.
2. Was Javascript used to submit the form? If so, it’s probably a spambot.
3. Were all fields filled with URLs? If so, it’s probably a spambot.
4. Was data entered into a non visible text field to the user? Then it’s probably a spambot.
5. Is the same IP address making repeated visits for just a few seconds on your website?

The answers to these questions can help fight spam on your site and take the load off of your end user. Alternatively, consider utilizing a human oriented question that is specific to your audience. For example, if you’re within the the design space, a question such as “mixing yellow and blue together produces what colour?”. This gives users a positive emotion by utilizing their smartness. They are treated better than being asked to input gibberish.

Either way. Lets stop CAPTCHA now. Your users will thank you for it!

2. Reset Buttons

This applies to forms and anywhere that text can be entered on a page. Having this “feature” coded too close to the submit button is a recipe for disaster for many websites. This is especially true if you are using your website to build a following. How many scenarios can you think of where your user just took time to fill out a form, and they then realized “I have no need for EVERYTHING I just entered. Please remove it all.” If you have a user that accidentally clicks this nasty button, you may have just permanently implanted a negative experience in their mind. To save the world from more trouble, lets just stop doing it. There is literally no need for it to exist. It does nothing that can’t be achieved by other means UNLESS there is a specific case (we’ve yet to see one).

3. Pop-Up and Surveys

Many of your visitors will just want to browse and peruse through your site. Websites that incorporate popups within the first few seconds will annoy more visitors than they will make happy. Popups to chat before your user is really sold on your website will also add an extra annoyance. Simply placing a Chat button in clear view is more than adequate. The same applies for surveys.

4. Redundant Forgot Password Workflow

This is a very common feature of many websites and simultaneously an annoyance to many users. Much of the standard workflow for retrieving a forgotten password is as follows:

User enters their username/email address and wrong/no password ——> User Clicks “Forgot Password” ——> User is prompted to enter username or their email address again.

Having your website store their username so it populates after they click “Forgot Password” is better than your website “forgetting” who they are and asking them to re-enter their information. The former is impersonal and requires too much repetition for end users. Remember, the purpose of your interface is to create a good user experience, even when they have forgotten their password.

5. Auto-Playing Slideshows

Having slideshows set at any speed are much harder to click or browse through than content that can be scrolled through. This common mistake made by websites interrupts the flow of your user experience and can even frustrate your visitors, especially when the slide show is the main content on the website. It simply makes the user feel out of control.

While many of the features are extremely common online, it doesn’t mean it’s good practice. Focusing on your users helps to keep them coming back. Taking these 5 design flaws into heavy consideration when you are making your final decisions on your user interface design will help create both clarity and an overall good web experience for your visitors. Incorporating them may put you at risk for losing and frustrating your website visitors.

The PC is still alive, and Windows 8 hasn’t killed anything

This week seems to be a hatefest towards Windows 8 and the PC. GigaOM has a post titled “The PC market is a horror show right now”, CBC reported that “PC sales plunge as Windows 8 flops”, and finally there is a post on The Motley Fool that chimes in “Microsoft’s Windows 8 has failed, now what?” The basis for much of the commentary comes from research firm IDC which suggests that Windows 8 is pushing customers away from buying PCs. While PC purchases may indeed be slowing, the PC is still alive, and Windows 8 hasn’t killed anything.

The PC isn’t dead

Tablets & smartphones compliment a desktop environment. It doesn’t replace it. Along with enterprise customers who continue to use PCs mostly on a Windows environment, power users continue to also use PCs. Upgrading your PC, to these users, generally does not mean purchasing a new system, it means upgrading obsolete components. Furthermore, individuals who use a computer to do anything more than watching videos, browsing websites, or sending quick emails, continue to utilize a PC for more advanced tasks. When designers, programmers, architects, musicians, videographers, and other creatives start turning to a tablet for their work, then we can say for certain that the PC market is in its deathbed.

Windows 8 adoption rate

The slower adoption rate for Windows 8 seems seems to invoke comments that Windows 8 has failed. It’s important to realize that comparing the adoption rate of Windows 7 and Windows 8 makes for a poor comparison. Upgrading from Microsoft Vista (or XP) to Windows 7 is one thing. Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8 is another. Lets also keep in mind that enterprise customers are still generally in the process of upgrading from XP to Windows 7. They won’t be moving to Windows 8 any time soon.

Windows 8 does not provide much increased value when compared to Windows 7. To the casual user, the Metro interface seems confusing and lacks in value. It also provides little value when the number of touchscreens available for a PC are relatively small. Furthermore, Windows 8 to the casual user creates change. We hate change.

The future of tablets & smartphones

Windows 8 seems to be the recognition by Microsoft that the future is in tablets & smartphones. Windows 8 provides a platform that can be used on tablets, smartphones, and PCs. Since the PC is still required by enterprise users, and power users, the traditional Windows environment still needs to exists. Since using any type of ‘advanced’ software requires the use of a PC, the Windows environment is still required. Windows 8 is the bridge between this new reality. Windows 8 also opens up a future of cross-platform beauty. An app that is developed on Windows 8 could be utilized on your PC, your tablet, and your smartphone.

The observation that PC sales is in decline is an obvious one. There simply isn’t a need to upgrade your PC every 2 years. In 1994, tablets and smartphones weren’t a competing factor for PC sales. These new devices are going to continue to increase in sales. The decline in PC sales though has nothing to do with Windows 8. Windows 8 hasn’t failed, and the PC isn’t dead.

Function vs. Design

We came across a great quote recently on an old blog post:

“If you can give me an application that can accurately predict tomorrow’s stock market, I’ll put up with the grossest usability issues, even a command line interface. On the other hand, if you give me an application that tells me what already happened on the market, it better have better UX than the one I currently use or I won’t switch.”

Design, on its own, doesn’t sell by itself. Good design makes things easy to use, more obvious and intuitive. If there are several things with equal, or alike, functionality, the one with the best design wins. We can see this apparent in everyday life.

Myspace

Myspace was the most important social networking site in the world. Can you believe that at one time it surpassed Google as the most visited site in the US?

2008 comes along, and Facebook is the clear winner. Why? Obviously there are numerous reasons, however, user experience and design both played a big part. In 2006 Myspace signed a $900 million, three-year advertising deal with Google. Besides making a boat load of money, the end result of this deal was a Myspace that provided Google exclusive advertising. This resulted in a site that was less easy to use, and slower, compared to a site like Facebook. It impacted the overall design of the site and over user experience.

Myspace has worked on design improvements. From a god-awful design in the early days, they re-branded and re-focused in 2008, yet users still wouldn’t respond. Facebook offered a cleaner design and a better experience. Facebook won. What will be interesting to see is how a ‘new’ Myspace stands up against a Facebook that is beginning to show signs of weakness. Myspace will soon be rolling out a new user interface which looks much more cleaner than the current iteration of Facebook. Will good design win again?

Facebook

Speaking of Facebook…While it’s still a behemoth in the social networking space, reports are continuing to suggest that its starting to lose users. Facebook recently stated that they believe some of their younger users are reducing engagement and switching to other platforms such as Instagram (owned by Facebook).

Facebook initially drew users in thanks to a relatively simple interface. It also met and enhanced user experience at the time. It offered a great photo sharing experience, ways to connect easily with friends, as well as opportunities for entertainment.

View UI changes over the years.

Today, Instagram offers a much more streamlined process, enhances it, and provides a better user experience. While the younger demographic is being drawn more and more to images as a method of communication (eg: Tumblr, SnapChat and Pinterest), is there any wonder why users are spending less time on Facebook?

Gmail

There is a great article posted in 2008 from Techcrunch which shows the evolution of pre-launch gmail in screenshots. Look at these screenshots and ask yourself if it would be possible, in 2012, for Gmail to become the largest email service in the world with the old UI it once had. In 2011, Gmail released a UI facelift that provided a more minimalist look. One year later, they are the email service.

Besides obvious UI improvements, UX plays a big part.Gmail continues to innovate and offer a much stronger user experience than any of its competitors can match: Google Docs, Calendar, Gtalk, etc, it’s meets more what users want.

The design of Gmail surpases that of other platforms, it provides a much stronger user experience, and it wins.

Automobiles

Switching from the digital space to the offline, we can look at cars. Study after study show that when buyers are looking to purchasing a car, its factors such as ‘connectedness’ and gas-saving technologies that are making the difference these days. The amount of horsepower or other such specs isn’t a major factor. Meeting the experience of the users, presenting fantastic design, providing comfort and peace of mind is what matters now.

If specs were the true motivating factor, one could suggest that the US Auto Industry would have never had any challenges competing again Japanese firms. This wasn’t the case. Fuel efficiency, connectedness, and price all won over specs. Design won.

Design on its own doesn’t sell. We can see this in everyday life. Good design that supports its users, and provides a fulfilling experience, does win. We’ve listed a few examples here, what are yours? Let us know!

Contact Us