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Ivanna

No-code vs. Custom Code: What is a Better Fit for User-centered Design?

No-code vs. Custom Code: What is a Better Fit for User-centered Design?

By ai, application development, digital transformation, innovation, Uncategorized, user experience, user interface, UX One Comment

Ever-evolving software technologies and no-code or low-code tools are transforming a traditional way of creating digital products. In the last few years, creating software can be done faster, simpler, and with a lower barrier of entry than ever before. One of the reasons is that user-centered design has come to the forefront of most software development processes. At the same time, the need for the software creator to code is being replaced with drag-and-drop interfaces, freeing up space for creativity, rapid prototyping, and continuous testing.

But does this trend mean that custom coding will completely vanish in the next few years? Or, can these two approaches exist in parallel, complementing each other?

This article will explain the concept of no-code and low-code development in the context of building user-centered design. Ideally, you’ll find out whether you’ll benefit more from a low-code development approach, or if custom coding is what you need for your projects.

What “low-code” and “no-code” actually mean

As the name suggests, low-code or no-code development is a practice of building digital products with little or no coding. It’s made possible by platforms allowing users to create software solutions by just dragging and dropping necessary elements, or features, into the relevant fields. The main goal of these platforms isn’t limited to visualizing product designers’ ideas like in Sketch or InVision. They let you build an actual interface with functioning features on it, as opposed to creating a UX/UI mockup.

The low-code/no-code approach reflects recent changes in the development process and business requirements. Today, the main focus is shifted from the product functionality to the product presentation.

development process
Image credit: zapier.com

Modern businesses understand that the strong orientation towards users has become a ‘gold standard’ in the digital world. Naturally, as technology develops, design decisions play a more critical role than it did before. These factors create a demand for quicker prototyping and frequent user feedback collection. The birth and rise of low-code/no-code development is a technology response to this global trend.

Benefits of no-code development

office people

The potential benefits of the low-code/no-code development approach goes far beyond speed and simplicity. This practice can significantly reduce the gap from the ideation and execution stages of app development – drastically changing the way businesses embrace innovation. Here are the key advantages of using low-code/no-code development platforms.

Rapid delivery for the supreme time-to-value

Rapid delivery is probably the most obvious benefit of the low/no-code approach. With low-code/no-code automation tools, you can build a web or mobile application really quickly, even if you can’t code. The accelerated development speed can help startups that plan to launch a product or service in a highly competitive market gain a considerable competitive advantage.

For mature enterprises, rapid delivery is also beneficial as it allows for improved flexibility and adjustability. Besides, the fast time to market enabled by low-code/no-code solutions can help businesses of any size iterate more often and create products with truly user-centered design.

Driving force behind digital transformation

Low-code and no-code tools facilitate a digital transformation process and lower the barrier of entry to innovation. In practice, it allows business professionals with no or minimum technical background to bring their ideas to life without the necessity to wait until developers will do the work. This practice is called civil development, and it helps enterprises resolve IT challenges faster and more effectively.

For example, an HR or marketing department may need quick internal transformations to improve its efficiency. In these scenarios, low-code can be a great solution as it doesn’t require a lot of time and money from an enterprise.

Additionally, low-code and no-code development create more favorable conditions for building user-centered design for business applications. It is because the people who need the software solutions are the ones who actually build them, as opposed to delegating the task to the IT department.

Simplified prototyping and usability testing

To create an outstanding UX design, a development team should test a product on its potential users before the release. The more iterations take place, the higher the chances are for a successful product launch. Basically, this is the foundation of most agile development methodologies.

With low-code/no-code tools, programmers can quickly and easily build a product and test its every core feature. As a result, they can generate enough knowledge to tailor a user experience to the needs and wants of a target audience. Besides, low-code/no-code development enables the implementation of the Lean UX approach. This Lean UX method prioritizes rapid iterations and puts an even greater focus on collecting user feedback.

Benefits of custom coding

coding

Low-code/no-code options cannot fully replace custom development. Writing code from scratch also has many advantages that are essential for solving certain business challenges. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Uniqueness and specialized interactivity

With low-code and no-code development, you can create a good design. However, this approach won’t allow you to build a unique solution. In other words, if you need an application with specialized interactivity, custom coding will be a better fit for you.

This slightly more traditional approach to product development usually requires more resources, but it also gives you a higher level of freedom and expertise. Basically, developers can implement any product idea you have. Whereas, if you select low-code/no-code development, your choice of features and UX design elements will be limited to options offered by a tool vendor.

Complex functionality and state-of-the-art technologies

Complex functionality and sophisticated data models can only be implemented with custom coding. It means that low-code/no-code solutions won’t be of help for businesses that need an enterprise-wide application. Similarly, when it comes to making use of innovative technologies such as AI, virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, etc, there is no alternative to custom code development.

Low-code/no-code vs custom code: what to choose for your business

Both approaches can benefit most businesses —  each addressing different needs. However, in order to help you decide what type of development to select for a specific project here are some hints that will help.

Choose low-code/no-code development for:

  • simple tools for automating simple business operations
  • basic solutions for eliminating bottlenecks in specific work-flows
  • new digital products that require extensive and/or regular user feedback to be built properly
  • new digital products that have to be released quickly (e.g., to outrun the competition)
  • idea validation, if you’re not sure whether people need certain functionality (ideal for startups)

Choose custom code for:

  • complex feature-rich solutions
  • products based on AI, VR, AR, or any other innovative technology
  • long-term development projects with uncertain requirements
  • unique products that cannot be developed with low-code/no-code tools
  • larger digital products that will reach a large user-base to ensure solidity at scale

However, it is possible for you to use both approaches in one project. For example, you may be able to build a high-fidelity prototype with low-code/no-code tools to test key assumptions and then proceed with custom coding to create a full-fledged product.

Conclusion

In the no-code vs. custom code battle, there is no single winner. Low-code/no-code development can be a great solution for building simple applications, usability testing,  prototyping, and experimenting. The wide adoption of this practice can drive innovation across different industries and cultivate creativity in product development.

However, the low-code/no-code approach cannot compete when it comes to the scale and unique features possible through custom development. Writing code remains vital when it comes to the development of unique and complex software solutions.

Want to develop a software product but not sure what approach to choose? Contact us!

Video UX Trends in 2020: Online Experience after COVID-19

Video UX Trends in 2020: Online Experience after COVID-19

By experience design, mobile, UX, video No Comments

Actively making use of online videos is a clear trend in 2020 as it better improves the user experience. Of course, using quality video content has always been one of the most effective ways to make a website stand out. But after the coronavirus outbreak, the role of online videos in delivering delightful user experience has become even more crucial.

Across the board, during the early peaks of COVID-19 in March in the US and Western Europe, media consumption sky-rocketed. Social distancing and an increase in largely stay-at-home lifestyles have also facilitated the popularity of video chats, video games, and video creation.

For business owners, it means that customers will expect to see more videos in the digital space in both the mid- and post-COVID era. There is a greater need to adjust to the new market demands. In this post, we will discuss how video content impacts the UX and give you some tips on creating engaging online videos.

How videos can improve UX design

Incorporating videos into websites isn’t a passing design trend. By making the user experience more immersive, videos help businesses create a stronger connection with their target audience.

Videos also demonstrate more clearly how products and services meet customer needs and, as a result, help sell products and services more effectively. Let us look at the main benefits companies get when they decide to embed online videos on their websites.

Tone of voice & atmosphere

While background videos make landing pages look more compelling, there is more to it. Videos allow UX designers to create a particular atmosphere on a website and tap into specific emotions and intent in users. With the right UX design and video, it’s easier for a business to convey brand messages and convert leads into customers.

The Cadigal site below is a great example. The company offers property for lease, so the video on a homepage shows beautiful city views.

city view
Website address: www.cadigal.com.au

Higher SEO ranking

Using videos in web design enhances search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and help companies drive more visitors to their websites. Search engines ( most notably Google) rank sites that contain quality video content higher in the search results. Research shows that videos published on a web page can increase the site’s traffic by up to 157 percent.

Besides, online videos increase conversion rates by piquing people’s interest and encouraging them to stay longer on a website. It’s especially useful for businesses that undergo digital transformation and strive to build a solid online presence.

Storytelling video experience

Videos are a great content marketing tool that helps organizations tell the story of a product or brand. Our brains can process and interpret visual content faster than texts. It means that companies can convey more information via online videos in a shorter period of time.

Not to mention that people simply love videos. If video content is available on a web page, it will naturally grab users’ attention. Watch the ad below to get a better sense of how videos can tell a brand story.

Video as customer support

Sometimes people have questions about a product or service that a company offers, but contacting a support center seems like too much effort.

Using explainer videos on self-service portals is a UX design trend that allows businesses to optimize digital customer experience and make a website more user-friendly. It’s also beneficial for companies since they can save costs by hiring a smaller customer support team.

Top video trends for better UX

Online videos have been a dominant form of content for the last 5-7 years. We’ve seen changing video and UX trends during this time period.

As new tools for video recording and editing become increasingly available to a broader audience, new trends start to emerge. If you want to make your website more engaging, here are a few things that may help.

Vlog content

Creating a business vlog is an excellent idea for any company searching for a convenient way to deliver messages and ideas to customers. Informative and compelling online videos help capture the audience’s attention.

Videos are also more memorable than text and more effective in terms of building brand trust. Besides improving UX, a business vlog can be a working tool for implementing a video marketing strategy and increasing brand awareness.

Product videos

Ecommerce businesses use product videos to give potential buyers a close-up look of an item, explain its main features and benefits, or demonstrate a product in use. Statistics show that 72 percent of buyers prefer watching a video to reading a product description if both options are available.

The reasons are obvious. Videos provide more information about a product in an easier way. As a consequence, it speeds up and simplifies the decision-making process. Additionally, videos give more confidence that a product is real. Solo Stove serves as an example of quality product videos.

Live streams

Today, many social media platforms allow users to stream live videos. Instagram Stories, TikTok, Facebook Live, and Youtube Live are just the most popular platforms, but there are literally hundreds of them.

Advancements in technologies have also enabled adding live-streaming videos to corporate websites. So if you decide to start broadcasting business-related videos in real-time, you’ll easily find all the necessary tools.

Personalized videos

The personalized video is a very noticeable trend in video marketing these days. Such videos contain some personal elements, for example, a recipient name and give a feeling that a company speaks directly to each customer.

Of course, you don’t have to create a separate original video from scratch for all people on your email list. Modern video personalization platforms allow companies to customize videos automatically.

screenshot personalized video
Screenshot. Video source: vidyard.com

How to create a stunning online video

Most of today’s customers view videos all the time, and their expectations are rather high. In other words, if you want to create a positive user experience on your website you have to follow trends and apply best practices. Unfortunately, producing some video content now and again won’t be enough.

  • Don’t ignore a vertical video format. Videos in portrait mode are more mobile-oriented and are a perfect fit for social media. But you can also use them on your website and YouTube. See how Adidas did this.
  • Get inspiration from outside of your niche. Even if you need to create a simple ad or explainer, it shouldn’t be dull. In most cases, people enjoy videos when they are entertaining. Take inspiration from films or music videos — they’ll give you some new insights.
  • Make it simple. People choose videos instead of texts because they are simpler to perceive and process. So don’t try to tell everything in one video. Focus only on the important stuff and keep it short.
  • Invest in quality. Will you watch a video ad if the sound quality is so poor that you can barely hear the words? Good quality videos show that your company cares about your products and customers. In short, quality should never be underestimated.
  • Add in-person feel. Although the digital world offers limited opportunities for face-to-face interactions, users want to see more human beings when they are online. To make your video content more influential and engaging, create videos containing real people whenever it’s possible.

Wrapping-up

COVID-19 has changed our online habits and needs. People spend more time in the digital space and are exposed to a vast amount of information. It’s only natural that we want to get quality content but in a simple form, so understanding the ideas doesn’t require much effort. Online videos suit this market demand just perfectly.

No matter what message your business aims to deliver, you have a higher chance of being heard if you use a video format. Are you unsure whether your online videos and user experience design is up to scruff? Then it’s high time to review the UX design of your website, app experience, and add more videos to it.

Want to improve the UX of your website or digital product?

We’re ready to help!

User Experience and Digital Transformation : The Why, What, and How

User Experience and Digital Transformation: The Why, What, and How

By digital transformation, innovation, UX No Comments

The current health crisis forced many brick and mortar businesses to move online and completely rethink the way they operate. However, successfully undergoing a digital transformation isn’t always easy. While most traditional companies are striving to remain relevant in the new reality, only some of them understand how to do digital transformation right and what changes it triggers. One of the main mistakes organizations often make is to pay too much attention to technologies while underestimating the role of user experience.

In this article, we’ll explain why focusing on the UX design is crucial for receiving positive results from digital transformation. We’ll also give you some tips on how to get on the right track with creating outstanding digital experiences for current and potential customers.

Why center digital transformation around UX

No business can remain afloat if it ignores customer needs. But that’s exactly what some companies inadvertently do while undergoing digital transition. They think the same strategies that have proven their efficiency in real life will work equally well for online interactions. However, people behave differently in the digital space. This means that most traditional methods of offline communication aren’t necessarily effective on the internet.

Purchasing decisions online are influenced to a greater extent by a number of factors; including greater competition with plenty of available alternatives, the availability of reviews, almost effortless comparison of prices, and other conditions (e.g. delivery time and cost) have significantly raised the level of customer expectations. It usually takes just a few clicks to find another online shop selling similar products. So even one episode of poor customer experience can become a deal-breaker for internet purchasers.

A good UX design can address a number of these factors. It can help a company increase audience engagement, simplify interactions with every buyer, and, ultimately, get more sales. Statistics show that a return from every dollar invested in creating a decent user experience amounts to $100. At the same time, about 88% of online shoppers say that they won’t use a website again if the UX was bad. In other words, achieving business goals while undertaking a digital transformation isn’t possible without making the entire process user-centric.

How to get started with the UX-oriented digital transformation

Creating great products isn’t necessarily enough to combat fierce competition in the overcrowded internet arena. To stand out, a company must truly delight its customers, or at the very least make the purchasing journey effortless. In order to achieve this, a deep understanding of customer needs and wants is a must. Here are a few tips on how to take a comprehensive approach to the creation of user experience within the online transition process.

Do UX research

The main goal of UX research is to help you understand how to make every interaction with a mobile application or website pleasant to users. It allows a design team to identify problems and opportunities related to the usability of functions and solutions that you have already implemented or plan to implement. All insights and valuable information gathered at this stage can be fed into the further digital transformation process.

To do the research, UX professionals use:

  • qualitative measures (e.g. interviews) to figure out why customers do certain things, and
  • quantitative measures (e.g. analytics and statistics) to discover patterns and test the assumptions made after qualitative research.
UX research
Image source: Ferpection

Companies should apply UX research methods throughout the entire digital transformation process, not just at the beginning. During the later phases, they help to make sure that implemented software is easy to use and doesn’t create bottlenecks in the key processes and workflows.

Create wireframes

whiteboard

Rushing into the development process with no wireframes and prototypes isn’t a good idea. Even if you have to execute a digital transformation strategy within strict deadlines, it’s better to review the timeline than waste resources on building custom software that won’t bring you desired outcomes.

Wireframes will help you connect information architecture with a user interface. Building wireframes is the cheapest and fastest way to see if a solution has convenient navigation. Besides, wireframes will allow a design team to experiment with different ways of displaying content on screens. This will give you a chance to choose the perfect UX for your solution.

At this point, it’s important to create a holistic design system. Following the rules of such a system will make the visual representation of your brand consistent throughout different platforms.

Work on experience optimization

Digital transformation is a continuous process. Getting the IT infrastructure designed and developed won’t bring a company long-term benefits if opportunities for experience optimization are ignored later. As with any optimization process, moving to the digital space means that you always have to seek improvements and keep track of the current trends.

experience optimization
Image source: decibel.com

In this context, optimizing a digital customer experience should be a priority. Modern customers are demanding — they won’t tolerate brands that don’t show that they care for people. But digital transformation initiatives also cover the implementation of internal enterprise solutions. It means that you should provide the company’s staff with user-friendly tools as well. Such tools will help them do the work faster, increasing the company’s productivity and profitability.

Top post-COVID-19 trends in UX design

Covid-19 shopping

The coronavirus pandemic brought a lot of changes to our daily lives. Naturally, it also transformed customer service and things we expect from companies that sell us products and services online. To help you catch up with the current state of UX, here are the main post-COVID-19 trends to consider in a product development process.

Online videos

The coronavirus outbreak boosted the popularity of video content. Today, businesses use all kinds of videos to deliver their messages to customers, from live streams to online courses. In short, if you want the online transition to be successful, investing in quality video content will be the right decision. It will help you reach and engage a broader audience in a relatively short period of time.

Smooth virtual interactions

Yes, a smooth virtual interaction is something that people expected before quarantine as well. However, a stay-at-home regime moved even more of our daily tasks online. Now, people use the internet to solve literally every issue: purchasing groceries, work, talking to doctors via video call if some health concerns occur. That’s why simple and informative user flow and adjusting to the needs of users with different tech skills play a critical role in UX today.

Clarity in UX writing

The situation with COVID-19 made it hard to deal with information overload. Most of us are exposed to an enormous amount of news and thousands of messages all the time when we’re online.

It’s vital for companies that sell products or services to be clear and concise with their written content. No unnecessary distractions, ambiguity, and confusion — just plain expressions and straightforward guidelines.

The role of user experience in digital transformation

Digital transformation isn’t just about using more software tools and upgrading a company’s IT infrastructure. When an organization decides to implement technologies in its business operations, the way it engages with customers changes as well.

What this means is that if user experience doesn’t get enough attention, chances are the entire process will fail. To ensure that the digital transformation of your company will be successful, make it user-centric and take a holistic approach to building UX design.

Need a tenacious team for the digital transformation process?

Drop us a line!

Why UX in Healthcare Technology Matters and Where It’s Going | 2020

Why UX in Healthcare Technology Matters and Where It’s Going | 2020

By branding, interaction design, user experience, user interface, UX No Comments

New challenges in the healthcare industry accelerate the development of healthcare innovation. Striving to improve patient care, hospitals and clinics seek ways to digitize medical services and internal administrative processes. But while a lot of attention is focused on functionality, the role of a user experience design in healthcare software often remains undervalued.

In this article, we’ll outline key trends in medical technologies. We’ll also explain how quality UX design can help healthcare providers deliver better patient experience.

Telemedicine

With the help of telemedicine, physicians can consult, diagnose and treat patients remotely using telecommunication technology. A typical telemedicine appointment looks like a traditional visit to a doctor’s office. The only difference is that the patient and doctor communicate online. Video conferencing solutions and remote health monitoring apps are the most popular tools that medical organizations use for delivering clinical services from a distance. But the concept is constantly evolving so there is a lot of room for new ideas.

telemedicine
Image source: dribbble
Image credit: Alexander Plyuto

Potential telemedicine solution users aren’t a homogeneous group. In other words, UX design of this software must be created with different categories of patients in mind. In particular, to build an inclusive telemedicine application, UX designers should take into account such characteristics as users’ age, mental states, and tech skills.

Ideally, a telemedicine appointment should resemble a face-to-face visit as closely as possible. So when working with this healthcare technology, designers have to recapture the feeling of real-life experience for patients and doctors. This is obviously vital with this current COVID-19 pandemic.

Health wearables

Smartwatches and fitness trackers became mainstream soon after they appeared on the market. And their popularity continues to soar. For example, one study shows that the number of wearable devices is forecast to hit 1.1 billion by 2022. But the growth isn’t just in quantity. Technological developments allow app creators to expand and enhance the functionality of wearables, turning them into useful healthcare technology tools.

health wearables
Image source: melmagazine.com

Most regular smartwatches and fitness trackers can monitor basic metrics like the person’s heart rate, steps, and sleep patterns. Medical devices are much more advanced and can also detect different deviations in users’ health conditions. For instance, they can identify atrial fibrillation by tracking the person’s heart rhythms.

To build a successful UX design for a health wearable, designers should properly prioritize information. A device must be simple and intuitive so users don’t feel confused when they need to quickly find necessary data or functions.

Healthcare chatbots

In healthcare, the chatbot technology is still in the early stage of implementation. Yet, it has the potential to become the industry standard in the next few years. Today, hospitals and clinics use chatbots mostly for experience optimization. For example, there are chatbots that help patients book appointments, connect patients with doctors, or collect feedback after a consultation.

But it’s expected that digital assistants will eventually become the first line of primary care. In particular, they’ll be able to analyze health information provided by a user and offer responses with personalized instructions.

If powered by artificial intelligence, healthcare chatbots can help medical organizations deliver patient-centric services while reducing workload for doctors. It’s important to remember that people who seek medical advice need to feel cared for even if they talk to a machine. So the main task of UX designers is to make an interaction with a bot very similar to chatting with a real person.

Medical virtual reality

Virtual reality opens doors to a variety of new opportunities for the healthcare industry. First of all, this technology improves training methods for doctors. It also allows them to master professional skills without risking the health and life of real patients. Research shows that surgeons who used the VR platform for simulating operations enhanced their performance by 230 percent compared with doctors who used traditional training techniques.

medical vr
Image source: healthiar.com

Another use case of virtual reality in healthcare is the reduction of pain and discomfort during unpleasant treatment procedures. For instance, VR healthcare technology comes in handy when a patient needs to sit for hours to undergo lengthy chemotherapy. VR can also help people with amputated limbs get accustomed to prosthetics.

Building a UX design for a VR-based healthcare solution is an extremely encompassing task. Designers working on such projects need to clearly outline the needs of a target audience and make accuracy their top priority.

Electronic health records

EHR solutions aren’t a new thing for medical organizations. Hospitals and clinics have been using this type of software for a long time. The purpose of EHR is to digitize medical charts and records while reducing the amount of paperwork needed. While this healthcare technology is widely adopted, its usability, in general, remains at a questionable level. As a result, nurses and physicians cannot fully rely on the system, as it may lead to errors and patient safety risks.

EHR system
Image source: sapristic-biion.com

Before creating a UX design for EHR software, designers need to study how medical staff will interact with a system. What is a user’s typical sequence of actions? Which fields are mandatory and which of them can be left blank? Is there something a user can forget to do after inserting information in a chart? Conducting extensive UX research will be very helpful during the early stages of development. But designers must also perform user testing and quality assurance at a later phase to ensure that a solution is user-friendly and effective.

UX and healthcare technology in a snapshot

Medical technologies aim to improve the efficiency of healthcare, enhance the patient experience, and make the doctors’ hard work a little bit easier. The UX design plays an important role in whether a particular health app meets these goals or not.

When deciding to develop a medical solution, healthcare providers must pay attention not only to its functionality but also to the user experience. At the same time, designers engaged in such projects must understand the specifics of the medical sector and be ready to deal with great responsibility that comes with tasks.

Looking for the right team of UX designers for your healthcare development project? Drop us a line!

How Visual Identity Impacts Branding & UX and Why It Matters

How Visual Identity Impacts Branding & UX and Why It Matters

By branding No Comments

Visual content, brand positioning and outstanding user experience (UX) are main things that help businesses stand out from the competition. Combined, they constitute your visual identity. This visual identity makes you different in the eyes of existing and potential customers. Both brand positioning and UX center around a company's interaction with its target audience. Brand messaging constitutes the foundation of any business-customer relationship. However, your visual identity and the form in which your company communicates with its buyers play a pivotal role – and ultimately determines the overall success of your customer engagement.

That’s why a properly designed visual identity can not only make a company’s digital presence beautiful. But it is also an effective tool for demonstrating a brand “personality” and improving the overall user experience (UX).

In this article, we will provide some visual design examples. We’ll explain how elements of graphic design and visual content constitute content marketing 101. Additionally, we’ll explain how it can strengthen your bond with customers.

We’ll also provide you with some useful tips for creating an outstanding brand image with the help of visuals and user interface (UI) design. But before we dive into the practical stuff, let’s briefly outline the basics.

What is a "visual identity"? 

Visual identity and branding are often used interchangeably. But, they are not the same thing. Branding is a broad term and is about how a business wants to be perceived by consumers or clients.

For instance, a coffee shop that uses only recyclable coffee cups may identify itself as an eco-friendly place. They can demonstrate this through design as well as visual and text content. This position would be a distinctive feature differentiating it from many other cafes which also offer good coffee.

brand vs identity
Image credit: justcreative.com

At the same time, a visual identity is a set of visible elements that would help the coffee shop convey its brand message. In general, it may include anything from interior design, graphic design principles and elements, to a logo. But if we narrow it down only to the digital presence, then visual identity would consist of the following two blocks: 

  • elements of basic design (i.e. typography, colors, layouts, grids, etc.)
  • visual content (i.e. images, infographics, screenshots, videos used mainly for marketing purpose)

So, for example, a green color palette might be a great choice for a website or mobile app of the eco-friendly coffee shop. See the example below. At the same time, an infographic showing what happens with coffee cups after they’ve been used would be a nice supplement to its blog posts or marketing emails. They could also feature as pamphlets or posters.

The Pear Tree Kitchen
Example of a website for the eco-friendly cafe
Image credit: The Pear Tree Kitchen

The above case is oversimplified, but it perfectly explains the main idea. When website visitors know what you and your offers are about, their trust and engagement levels increase. This naturally leads to better experience optimization, business growth, and higher profits. 

Why establishing effective visual communication is a must 

As human beings, we perceive visual information easier and process it faster than plain text. That’s why internet users in most cases prefer images and infographics to other types of content. In fact, visual content statistics really underline this: 

  • People are really good at remembering images. One study found that people remember 55 percent more information they heard three days ago – if there was a picture added to it.  
  • Infographics can drive the increase in website traffic by 12 percent. On top of that, internet users spend more time on a web page if it contains informative visuals. See what type of visuals draws perform best in the image below.
visual content performance
Image credit: venngage.com
  • Interestingly, Twitter users retweet 150 percent more tweets that contain images as compared to tweets without photos, memes or infographics.
  • It’s three times easier for people to follow visual instructions than written guidelines. This is why you should focus on illustrations, icons, and color hierarchy which guide users to their goal when creating UX design for a digital product.
  • More than 63 percent of digital buyers believe that the quality product image is more important than a detailed product description or reviews.
  • Internet articles that contain images have 6.5 times higher engagement than text-only blog posts.

So how design works, creating engaging visuals and building a decent design system, is not only about drawing customer attention. It's also about communicating and conveying information in an efficient way.

It’s worth mentioning that there is no visual content vs text confrontation. Both types of content are important elements of any good content marketing strategy and brand positioning. That’s why they should complement rather than replace each other. 

The role of design and visual content in branding

As we’ve outlined above, visual appearance is a crucial component of a company’s online presence. But how exactly does it benefit businesses’ self-presentation and the customer perception of a brand? Let’s discuss this in greater detail.

Setting the right tone 

Website design and visual content marketing are the focal points and tools of visual communication. They determine the tone the brand use to “speak” to its target audience. Once visitors enter a web page, they form their first impression about the business behind it. If that impression meets visitors’ expectations they stay on the website. If not, they leave in the first few seconds without even reading the text.

For instance, if a bank’s website was designed like a digital platform for kids it would probably have a high bounce rate. So make sure that the visual appearance of your web design and brand corresponds with your brand identity and cannot be misinterpreted. But don't forget about the aesthetics — it plays a crucial role as well. That's why you should try to create a visually pleasant and relevant UI design without compromising on any of these aspects. 

Building brand recognition

The long-term success of any commercial organization heavily depends on brand awareness and recognition. To build them, a company needs to develop a comprehensive brand strategy. This includes visual identity, among other elements such as a story, messaging, and personality. For most customers, the visual identity is the key differentiator since visuals are in general more memorable than text or audio.

Judge for yourself. When someone mentions Coca-Cola, what is the first thing that pops up in your mind? Chances are it’s the logo or brand colors. In most cases, it works in reverse equally well even if some element of graphic design is taken out of context.

For example, the combination of yellow and red is often associated with Mcdonald’s. Generally speaking, you should avoid any divergences between your offline and online core visual elements.

McDonald’s screenshot
Image credit: McDonald’s

Delivering brand messages

There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. And that’s exactly what visual identity is all about. Because while it may seem that we communicate mostly with words, studies show that nearly 90 percent of the information that is processed by our brains is visual. That’s why visual content and identity should not only describe what the business stands for – but also demonstrate it visually.

The question becomes; how do we do this successfully? Since every brand is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all recipe. However, different colors evoke different emotions (see below). Similarly, typography, layouts, and icons may tell a lot about the company's style, while color hierarchy shows what exactly a business wants to emphasize, and so on.

Colors and emotions
Image credit: bigmouthdesign.co.uk

The same applies to the visuals used in marketing campaigns. For instance, even the high-level review of visual content on social media may give you a clear idea of what values a brand has and whether you want to buy from it.  

The role of design and visual content in UX

An awful user experience can break even the most thoroughly built brand identity. That’s why when designers and marketers are working on a visual identity for a company, they should also think about the usability of a website or app.

The bottom line is that all elements and principles of basic design, as well as any pieces of visual content, must enhance the UX. In short, a decent visual identity and brand positioning should not come at the cost of user convenience. But let’s take a closer look at how visual identity impacts the UX.

Capturing attention and telling a story 

According to Forbes, Google performs around 3.5 billion searches per day. Additionally, a study by the New York Times shows that modern people are on average exposed to 5,000 ads every day.

For businesses, this means that older marketing strategies likely struggle to grab customer attention. Or, in other words, they should use other means to help internet users notice them. Unique UI design, overall design, and high-quality visual content are the best tools to do that.

Besides, visual storytelling is often perceived by website visitors more easily and can, therefore, be considered more convenient. Look at the image below. 

Fitbit screenshot
Image credit: Fitbit

Instead of describing a potential use case, site creators just showed a photo of a busy man who checks his work messages on the go. As a consequence, users can understand how the product may help them while they’re scrolling a web page. They don’t need to read long product characteristics to figure out if they need this item.

Guiding a customer through a site or app

People use websites and applications for a reason. For instance, they may search for information, want to buy a product, order a service, watch a movie, play a game, or text to friends. Ideally, the design of a software solution should be straightforward enough for users to reach their goals without putting too much effort into figuring out how to do this. 

A great example is the Uber app. It’s built according to the basic principles of linear UX design which is a minimalistic approach aimed at creating goal-oriented experiences.

Simply put, this means that the app “guides” users to their goals through a number of steps and users clearly know what to do next at every phase of their journey. The UI design is also in line with this idea since it’s rather simple: black and white colors for buttons and notifications, straight lines, plain layout, and no distractions. 

Uber confirmation
Image credit: Uber

How to create an awesome visual identity for your brand

Creating a visual identity that would properly present a brand and resonate with its customers is a complex process that doesn’t happen overnight. But here are a few recommendations that would help you do everything right.

Perform a website design audit

Before you start working on something new, you need to review what you already have. A comprehensive visual audit will allow you to understand if the visual identity of your business complies with its brand positioning. When a design audit process covers the evaluation of all design assets, its results will help your marketing team create more engaging visual content for social media, blog, and future marketing campaigns.

visual brand assets
Image credit: infographicworld.com

Develop a design system

Once a design inventory is ready, you may proceed to the next stage and develop a design system. In short, a design system is a set of guidelines and standards defining common rules for building different components of visual identity. For example, a design system will determine a color palette and brand fonts. Not only will it allow you to set a single vision of the outward expression of your brand, but it will also help designers avoid so-called design debt in the future. 

Components of a design system
Components of a design system
Image credit: Ines Serizer

Consider basic design principles 

When it comes to creating visuals for a brand, applying graphic design principles is always beneficial. They will help you develop a comprehensive visual language and make your brand “personality” look both consistent and attractive. Some things like visual weight, the level of white space, and visual texture might seem unessential to non-designers but they play a critical role in creating a holistic visual identity.

Avoid visual noise

Sometimes less is more. You should remember that every element of your design, as well as every visual, should serve a particular purpose, not just be mere decoration.

For example, there is no point in using five bright colors on a web page if three of them will just distract users and impair user experience. The same is with images. Instead of choosing a photo because it looks beautiful to you, pick a picture that tells a story or explains the benefits of your product. 

Hire professionals!

Luckily, you don’t have to do everything yourself. Although there are some tools that can help you create simple template-based visuals, more complex tasks need to be performed by professionals. Otherwise, there is a risk your efforts won’t bring the expected results.

Looking for experienced designers who can help your brand stand out with an impressive visual identity? Reach out now!