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AI and Telehealth: The Next Frontier in UX

AI and Telehealth: The Next Frontier in UX

By | healthcaretech, interaction design, mobile, UX | No Comments

The COVID-19 pandemic showed that artificial intelligence (AI) and telehealth technology aren’t just fancy trends in the medical industry. They are necessities that healthcare providers must adopt in order to remain efficient in current conditions. It’s true that discussions about the functionality of AI-driven telemedicine solutions are quite popular among developers and tech managers of medical organizations. Yet, the user experience (UX) aspect of AI in telehealth is rarely the main point and, as a result, gets far less attention.

We believe that experience optimization is invaluable regardless of industry and product type. Telehealth AI innovations can transform healthcare systems only when it both improves patient care and makes daily tasks easier for doctors.. 

This is why we want to take a look at how AI and telehealth are changing the way patients and clinicians interact and engage. We’ll also discuss how these technologies can potentially disrupt the UX of an entire health-tech discipline. 

Accurate diagnoses 

Many people still prefer traditional doctor’s visits to telemedicine appointments. They believe that long-distance communication via a video call doesn’t allow physicians to properly diagnose patients. While it may be true for some cases, the implementation of artificial intelligence in telehealth can radically change this situation. AI-powered software solutions open doors to almost infinite opportunities in health diagnostics, eliminating most concerns about the risk of incorrect diagnoses. 

telehealth
Image source: bccourier.com

Machine learning algorithms embedded in telemedicine systems can analyze the patient’s health data from electronic medical records (EMR). By combining this information with other important characteristics like gender, age, and prior medical conditions, an AI-enabled telehealth application can help doctors quickly form accurate diagnoses and provide patients with relevant treatment recommendations despite the distance. 

Automated collection of information

Artificial intelligence can enhance the patient journey by enabling the automated collection of information before a video call. Getting the complete and detailed data about the person’s symptoms will help doctors spend a telemedicine appointment more productively, speed up the care process, and improve medical decision-making.

health chatbot
Image source: devpost.com

In this context, designing a human-like conversational experience is critical to make patients feel cared for and forget that they are talking to a machine or chatbot. Otherwise, the solution may have the opposite effect. In particular, it’ll create an impression that a person’s health issues are not important enough to be examined by a real physician. 

Enhanced personalization

When it comes to user experience trends in healthcare, we cannot ignore various personalization capabilities that can be greatly improved with the help of AI and telehealth. Different medical apps existing on the market today can provide users with some basic information about their symptoms or diseases. However, they aren’t powerful enough to augment the first line of primary care. 

Image source: www.dribbble.com/dfarnold32

At the same time, AI software can focus on unique patient’s needs and offer users treatment options relevant to their specific cases. Additionally, predictive analytics can help doctors anticipate possible complications and take necessary preventive measures. This creates a solid foundation for taking the quality of care to the next level and enhancing both the patient experiences and outcomes. 

Remote patient monitoring

AI telehealth solutions can reduce the need for face-to-face consultations with physicians through efficient remote health monitoring. Elderly people and people with chronic diseases have to visit doctors on a regular basis just to make sure that their health indicators remain in the normal range. While such visits are necessary, they take a lot of time and put patients at risk of catching viruses and infections in hospitals and clinics. In addition, they increase the workload for doctors, making the visits labor-intensive and exhaustive. 

medical wearable
Image source: www.mime.asia

Telehealth apps can reduce the number of mandatory medical check-ups by allowing clinicians to monitor the patient’s heartbeat, blood pressure, temperature, and other vital signs at a distance. If combined with artificial intelligence, such solutions can detect dangerous health conditions early on and alert users and their doctors about possible risks. For instance,  AiCure, a New York-based company has developed a platform that enables physicians to track progress in the patient’s treatment based on their facial expressions. 

telehealth app
Image source: cdn.nanalyze.com
Image credit: AiCure

Streamlined processes 

Assessing symptoms and diagnosing patients via video calls are not the only tasks necessary for doctors to perform in order to provide quality telemedicine services. Along with other medical staff, they need to complete a lot of administrative tasks that have a great impact on the overall patient experience. Statistics show that physicians spend about 50 percent of their time on paperwork and processing documents. 

Implementation of AI-driven solutions can help hospitals and clinics improve workflows and make administrative work less burdensome and time-consuming. For instance, voice-controlled tools that are based on natural language processing (NLP) technology can simplify the management of patients’ medical records (electronic medical records (EMR)/electronic health records (EHR)). Also, machine learning (ML) powered virtual assistance can give doctors recommendations about prescriptions they may want to consider when evaluating patients.

Matching a patient with a doctor

Many fears that people have about telemedicine are related to choosing the right medical professional. Unlike in-person visits, video calls provide limited opportunities to create an emotional connection with a doctor. As a result, the patient may have doubts about a clinician’s qualification even if everything went well during the appointment.

Image source: www.dribbble.com/sauvignon

ML algorithms can use a person’s health data to better find a doctor who has the most suitable expertise. Such AI-assisted telehealth software will help patients feel more comfortable about the fact that they’re treated remotely. In addition, it will simplify the work for hospital administrators, freeing up their time for other important tasks.

Wrapping-up

UX is invaluable for all types of digital products and telehealth isn’t an exception. Artificial intelligence can allow medical organizations to create telemedicine solutions with intentional user experience design. It will enhance the patient journey and make remote clinical services more efficient. In particular, AI-enabled software can help hospitals and clinics automate the collection of information, improve diagnostics, monitor patients’ health conditions remotely, streamline administrative processes, and pick the right medical professional based on patient’s health data. 

Looking for a skillful team to create a perfect UX design for your telemedicine solution? Contact us!

How Animations and Interactive Web Design Make Better Digital Products

How Animations and Interactive Web Design Make Better Digital Products

By | Animation, UX | No Comments

Motion design and interactive web design has become extremely popular in the last twelve months. More and more websites use different types of animations, videos, and 3D objects to create a truly unique user experience. Browser performance has also increased and web technologies have evolved significantly. This, coupled with the much-anticipated arrival of 5G internet, allows website owners to keep up with the current trends with no harm to the load speed. In this blog post, we’ll explain how you can make your website stand out with the help of interactive and animated elements. We’ll also share some examples of digital products that already use such elements in quite impressive fashion.

Hover states

Hover states, also known as hover effects, are among the most common CSS animations on the web today. You’ve probably seen them, too. Remember the time when you placed your pointer over something and it changed or moved even though you didn’t click or drag anything? That’s a hover interaction animation you see in interactive web design. It’s used for many purposes. For instance, e-commerce stores often implement hover effects to show what an item looks like in different colors or from different angles.

hover states
Image source: econsultancy.com

There are other reasons why companies build digital products with this type of web design animation too. Sometimes, it can help users figure out what actions take them from A to B.

hover states
Image source: wpepitome.com

Alternatively, you can use hover states just to entertain your users and keep them engaged.

hover states
Image source: designshack.net

Parallax scrolling effect

The parallax effect, or parallax scrolling, is another interactive web design trend that can help you deliver an outstanding user experience. Simply put, it’s an effect that makes the background image or content and forefront content of web pages move at different speeds while scrolling. Combined with a full-screen interface effect, parallax scrolling creates a feeling of space and depth. Besides making a website more memorable, it helps to draw users’ attention to specific sections or content.

Parallax scrolling effect
Image source: invisionapp.com

Loader screen

Internet speeds continue to increase, which is why website visitors can hardly tolerate bad loading times. But in some cases, delays are just unavoidable (like heavy traffic or a large amount of data that needs to be processed). Fortunately, interactive web design can help you with this task. When you use loading animations for experience optimization, you’ll be able to keep more people on a page. You’re also more likely to see users being more patient as content loads.

By Sulf: https://dribbble.com/shots/10173093-Loading-screen-animation

Animated and video backgrounds

Your interactive web design may also benefit from the dynamic layouts. Usually, when you animate elements, you create a much more immersive experience than traditional static backgrounds. Visually, it captivates users in a similar way to watching a movie or playing a video game. Additionally, dynamic backgrounds may help you instantly show what your business is about as well as convey its key messages. Basically, you can use animations or videos to add some motion to the website background.

video background
Image source: optimizepress.com

Animated 3D elements

The use of three-dimensional, real-life objects in web design is a growing trend that is unlikely to change any time soon. Whether to add 3D web design elements to your UX design system or not is no longer a question. New technologies such as webGL allow website owners not only to include 3D objects in their web interface, but also effectively combine them with animations. The results can be breathtaking. View the video below to see the true power of animated 3D in interactive web design.

Image galleries

If you want to show several images on one screen, you may use an interactive image gallery. Selected photos will change automatically or after a user clicks on a button. At the same time, animating effects will make the user experience more pleasant. Another benefit of interactive image galleries is that they allow you to save space and avoid “cluttering” the page with photos. If you’re not sure whether you can incorporate this type of animation into your website, you can conduct a design audit first.

Image galleries
Image source: dribbble.com Image credit: Yurij Prokopchenko

Kinetic typography

Different experiments with typography have become one of the most vivid UI/UX design trends in the last 2-3 years. Not only do designers play with fonts, text directions, and proportions but they also make the letters move. Since moving type provides almost endless possibilities for creativity, it can be harmoniously introduced into most styles. No matter whether you need to develop interactive web design for a FinTech company or digital agency, it’ll probably benefit from kinetic typography.

Kinetic typography
Image credit: Animography

Particle animations

A few years ago, the digital industry became obsessed with minimalism. So on the one side, website owners wanted to add motion to their products. But on the other side, they didn’t want to make landing pages overwhelmed with distracting moving elements. Particle animations appeared as designers’ solution to this request. Elegant yet impressive, they do make a difference, setting the website apart from the competition and greatly enriching the user experience.

Particle animations
Image source: dataveyes

This type of web animations is often used on homepages. Depending on your needs and goals, you may choose either interactive (i.e. movements triggered by users’ actions) or non-interactive (i.e. movements are not connected to users’ actions) particle animations for your website.

Animated navigation menu

Animated navigation is one of the simplest ways to create an interactive web design. It serves two purposes: 1) it helps designers liven up a page, and 2) assists visitors navigate a website. Additionally, it makes web solutions more “compact.” In some cases, users can access a menu without even scrolling. Although animated navigation isn’t something that necessarily amazes people, you can still be creative. For instance, you can use a slider instead of a hamburger icon that is considered a traditional navigational element.

Animated navigation menu
Image source: dribbble Image credit: Tran Mau Tri Tam

Creative combinations

If you want to take a holistic approach rather than simply adding motion to a website, you can combine several types of animations. For instance, you can make every user’s action followed by some animated effect like a hover state or micro-movements of illustrations. This will make a website interface more intuitive and aesthetically pleasant.

Interactive Web Design
Image source: tubikstudio.com

Animations can also help you tell your brand’s story or assist your messaging, especially when paired with other audio-visual effects/text. The Beyond Beauty project is a great example. When users enter the website, a song starts playing. Scrolling through the page makes the images and text move and change. If an image is clicked, users can listen to a story and read the transcript by the side.

Interactive Web Design
Image credit: wazile.com

Keep your business relevant with interactive web design

No matter if your company is just a local business or an established enterprise, most customers will likely judge it by your digital presence. Creating a delightful user experience isn’t something you do once and forever. Website owners must always keep up with design trends to demonstrate to customers that their businesses are modern, reliable, and relevant. Implementing motion design and interactive web design is a perfect way to improve the usability of digital products, make them more memorable, and increase engagement.

Want to power up your website with interactive elements? Reach out!

How 5G Will Revolutionize IoT and Innovation, at Home and at Work

How 5G Will Revolutionize IoT and Innovation, at Home and at Work

By | ai, digital transformation, IoT, omnichannel, user experience, voice | No Comments

A full-fledged launch of 5G will drive revolutionary changes in most modern industries, cities, and homes. Although the technology is still not active in many countries, a lot of tech experts believe that 2020 will be the year we will truly see 5G innovations for new business opportunities boom.

In particular, the mobile industry and large telecommunication carriers continue rolling out 5G networks all over the world and major phone manufacturers compete in releasing devices equipped with 5G capabilities. The pieces of the 5G evolution puzzle are coming together. It is high time to start preparing for the new 5G service reality.

In this article, we’ll explain why the advent of 5G is an important milestone for any company that strives to grow and remain competitive. We’ll also make some predictions about how the combination of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) will innovate the way we live and do business.

What is 5G how does it work?

Simply put, 5G is the new generation of mobile networks that will augment and eventually replace its predecessor 4G LTE. Unlike previous network generations, 5G technology is forecast to have a much bigger impact on the world around us.

Besides increasing the speed of the internet, it’ll enable ultra-low latencies and ubiquitous coverage. These changes will eliminate the last barriers to the wide IoT adoption, opening the door to large-scale automation and other almost futuristic transformations.

5G mobile network
Image source: rfsafe.com

However, the main challenge is that 5G operates on three spectrum bands simultaneously. Each of them offers different data transmission speeds, has different coverage areas, and requires a separate infrastructure.

5g frequency ranges
Image source: digitaltrends.com

Low-band spectrum

The low-band spectrum consists of low-frequency waves below 1GHz. It offers relatively slow data transmission speed, i.e. 100Mbps at its peak, that practically feels like a 4G network. But the coverage area is quite broad.

This means that a telecommunication carrier needs fewer towers to ensure the internet connection over a long distance. In addition, the low-band spectrum can penetrate walls and other obstructions.

Mid-band spectrum

The mid-band spectrum operates in the 1-10GHz frequency range. It provides decent speed (the peak is around 1Gbps) as well as low latency. However, the mid-band spectrum may fail to go through physical objects in some instances.

It also covers a lower amount of space compared to the low-band spectrum. So telecommunication carriers need to install a lot of stations, i.e. macrocells, to create the proper infrastructure for it.

High-band spectrum

The high-band spectrum or a millimeter wave operates above the 24 GHz band and can deliver the internet at super-high speeds, i.e. up to 10Gbps. But since these waves are very short range, their coverage area is extremely low. They also struggle with smaller physical obstacles, for example, the roof of the car. That’s why a great number of small cells are required to fully roll out the high-band spectrum.

The ultimate goal is to create an infrastructure in which a 5G smartphone will remain connected to a high-band spectrum all the time. But the implementation of this scenario requires millions, if not billions, of small cells installed literally everywhere. For this reason, telecommunication carriers strive to ensure adaptive beam switching. It means that the phone will be connected to a different beam if the previous beam can no longer track the user.

What 5G means for IoT?

Image source: dribbble.com

The 5G wireless networks will create perfect telecommunications conditions to make IoT devices function at their fullest potential and bring the most benefits. In particular, they will enable more real-time connections thanks to high 5G speeds and omnipresence.

Low latency is another reason why 5G is good for IoT. Machines will respond faster to requests. As a result, they will be able to “communicate” more effectively with each other and the number of delays will be close to zero.

But let’s take a look at what the benefits of 5g are and the specific changes the 5G rollout may cause at different levels.

Business automation 

With 5G, IoT devices can be effectively monitored and controlled remotely with no compromises on their performance. Seamless connectivity along with the enhanced capacity of the networks will allow companies to automate a vast majority of operations that now require human intervention. This will streamline workflows, improve overall business productivity, and cut operational costs.

5G environment
Image source: KPMG

Another considerable benefit of autonomous processes is that they eliminate the risk of human error. This will enable companies to largely avoid the most common accident type.

Industrial 5G-powered solutions

With the widespread deployment of IoT platforms and 5G devices, we may expect that drones and augmented reality headsets will be among the most popular innovative solutions in manufacturing. In addition, real-time collection and analysis of big data will allow for predictive maintenance that will reduce machine downtime and repair costs.

Robotics of different types will also be used quite frequently, especially in factories. For instance, Audi already tests its 5G-powered robots in its production lab in Germany.

Smart cities 

The combination of 5G, IoT, and artificial intelligence creates a solid foundation for building smart cities. Advanced 5G capabilities will allow local authorities to detect and respond instantly to different emergency situations, making cities much safer.

Increased internet speed will help to immediately process the data gathered from traffic sensors on the roads. This will lead to solving the transportation problem and most likely result in reduced roadway congestion.

Image source: bibliotecapleyades.net

Besides, 5G also brings us one step closer to autonomous vehicles. Fast internet connection throughout large areas will allow self-driving cars to travel long distances without any limitations. In addition, the possibility to assess information in real time will ensure adherence to traffic rules. This will lower the chances of accidents and make autonomous vehicles safer for passengers and pedestrians.

Although smart cities are extremely complex networks of connected devices and we’ll unlikely see them in 2020, many communities already work towards this goal. So the future may be just around the corner.

Personal devices 

To take advantage of the 5G network service, users must have a 5G compatible smartphone. The news is bad for phone owners but great for device manufacturers. The latter ones see it as an opportunity to earn a fortune once 5G will get broader coverage. But even today, you can order a smartphone supporting 5G.

The key market players such as Samsung, Huawei, LG, and Motorola released their phones last year and more expected to follow in 2020.

On top of that, Lenovo showed the first 5G laptop for consumers at CES 2020. It supports 5G connection so you can access super-fast mobile internet from this device and download files at the speed of 4Gb/s. Chances are we’ll see other types of 5G compatible gadgets and IoT applications quite soon.

Smart homes

With 5G, more devices can be supported on one network and is likely to become a game-changer for smart homes. Today, keeping everything connected can be frustrating, as different pieces of the smart home infrastructure operate in different ways. For instance, a smart doorbell may use wi-fi while a toaster may connect only via Bluetooth. At the same time, 4G doesn’t have enough channels to ensure proper connection for a high number of devices at once.

By offering reliable coverage, low latency, and unprecedented network performance, 5G can solve this problem. As a result, it’ll be possible to create a truly interoperable system, not just have several smart devices placed in one home.

Internet of Everything (IoE)

Once 5G establishes itself, the Internet of Things will have every chance of becoming the Internet of Everything. This means that not only devices will be connected but also people, data, and processes. These connections will also become more intelligent, meaning that the right data will be transmitted to a person or machine at the right time automatically. So the IoE is more about creating a hyper-connected independent environment than just making several physical objects communicate.

Internet of everything
Image source: researchgate.net

Since telecom carriers still need some time to fully roll out 5G, we don’t see the IoE coming in 2020. However, businesses should start preparing for this change anyway because such global transformations will likely require several years to happen. This leaves plenty of room for innovation as 5G IoT applications will be in great demand.

What are the benefits of 5G?

Once 5G becomes widespread, our connectivity will reach a new level that will have a significant impact on nearly every aspect of our lives. Combined with the IoT technology, 5G will create a perfect platform for building complex smart environments in offices, factories, cities, and even at our homes. Industrial robots, autonomous vehicles, and PCs capable of connecting to super-fast mobile internet already exist. Now, everything depends on telecom carriers and they demonstrate promising advancements in 5G’s speed and reliability.

Want to innovate your business and need professional help? Contact us!

The State of UX for 2020

The State of UX for 2020

By | customer experience, design, digital transformation, interaction design, user experience, user interface | No Comments

We expect 2020 to be a momentous year in the space of UX design. New technology and user experience trends during the last decade have made competition across most modern industries tougher than ever before. Naturally, this motivates businesses to put even a greater focus on the user experience.

Today, the challenge in sensing customers’ needs and wants is no longer enough to stand out and be successful. Companies that want to win a higher market share must also be a step ahead of the herd and anticipate future UX trends.

To give you a leg up, we’ve collected the latest trends of the digital world which, we believe, will shape user experience in 2020. Give them a look and make strategic decisions before your rivals do.

Even more personalized experience

Personalization has been an essential part of experience optimization for a while already. However, as technologies continue to evolve businesses become better able to precisely tailor their offers to different users.

Besides using cookies that store only basic information about a user, website and app owners may now take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related technologies (e.g. advanced data analytics, machine and deep learning). They open doors to a whole bunch of new UX-related opportunities and experiences.

A great example is Netflix. This well-known video-streaming service applies machine learning algorithms to provide every user with relevant content by personalizing recommendations, push notifications, and search results.

netflix screenshot

Starbucks goes even further. It combines AI with geolocation technology to deliver a truly futuristic experience. In particular, users of its famous location-aware app receive highly personalized promo messages at the time when they are in a specific place, i.e. near the Starbucks shop.

startbucks screenshot
Image source: Build Fire

In 2020 there won’t even be a question whether to make your app user-centric or not. The key differentiator will be the extent to which you’re ready to personalize your product.

Voice user interfaces are getting to their peak

In today’s fast-paced world time is money, and its value is high. Voice User Interfaces (VUIs) and virtual assistants help users navigate through an app faster while the handsfree capabilities allow users to multitask. No wonder voice user interface interaction has been on the top of UX trends for the last several years. The question is; what will happen with Voice User Interfaces (VUI) in 2020?

Well, VUI will continue to strengthen its position as the second most popular type of app navigation after graphical user interface (GUI). Is there a chance it’ll leapfrog GUI on the list?

We don’t see that happening next year. But voice-assisted UI will definitely continue getting closer to the first position in the ranking. There is even a quite promising prediction made by ComScore in 2016 that nearly half of searches will be voice searches in 2020.

Voice search by 2020
Image source: Milestone Insights Voice Search Report

We still expect a significant shift in the quality of VUIs. As natural language processing (NLP) technology is evolving, voice interactions and voice assistants become more effective in finding accurate answers. Besides, our interaction with them will also become more natural. It’ll resemble more human-to-human communication rather than a conversation with a robot.

Alexa chatting
Image source: SnapTravel

On top of that, the array of tasks we can perform with a voice command will probably increase in 2020. For instance, Google Duplex, a new project by Google, has already enabled setting up appointments over the phone without any interaction with a person on the other end from a user’s side.

Google Duplex
Image source: Google

Introduction of a Chief Experience Officer position

Creating a user experience that is both holistic and consistent is crucial for enhancing the usability of a product and making a brand memorable. Traditionally, UX professionals or a designer together with a marketing team has been responsible for ensuring this part of the development. But the situation is quite different now.

The list of platforms today’s organizations use to maintain their digital presence is not limited to a website and mobile app. Wearables and smart devices are growing in popularity, the number of social media channels is increasing and becoming more complex. In general, markets are becoming ever more dynamic. Ensuring a positive customer experience is now a much more complex activity than it used to be. This is why a new C-level executive position is necessary.

As of the end of 2019, not many businesses introduced the position of CXO. Introducing this position to your business will give you a significant competitive advantage for your company in the coming year. In particular, a chief experience officer will help you perform a comprehensive visual audit and build a holistic UX design system.

The rise of VR & AR in fashion and e-commerce

In 2020, Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Reality or Augmented Reality (AR) technologies will continue blurring the borders between the real and digital worlds. The success which such pioneers as Ikea, Toyota, LEGO, and Zara reached with their VR/AR-powered apps has inspired many other businesses to take a fresh look at the way they promote and sell products.

LEGO ar app
Image source: kidscreen.com

The development of applications containing virtual reality or augmented reality elements has also become more accessible in terms of costs and availability of specialists. All these factors lay the groundwork for a boom in VR/AR that can happen any year now. Of course, not all business areas will adopt these technologies equally fast. But such sectors as interior design, e-commerce, and fashion will likely become dependent on this type of interaction design in the near future.

For instance, at the beginning of this year, Gucci launched its AR-based app that allows users to try on sneakers by pointing a smartphone camera at their feet.

Gucci AR app
Image source: designboom.com

In May, Nike released its own mobile app that uses augmented reality technology to help customers accurately define their size.

Since online shopping is an active and ever-growing niche (e.g. about 60 percent of millennials prefer it over traditional shopping), we have all reason to believe that similar functionality will become industry standard quite soon.

3D design is taking over the app world

In our 2019 State of UX article, we were writing about Memoji which had been introduced with the release of iOS12. In the last twelve months, designers have started to use both static and dynamic 3D elements more frequently. The trend of 3D design has become vivid and noticeable.

Besides being eye-catching, a 3D presentation of interfaces helps to deliver a truly realistic user experience. A study shows that modern people are online for nearly 7 hours per day. This means that we spend an enormous amount of time in a virtual environment.

A 3D view makes our stay there more natural and comfortable. That’s why leveraging the power of 3D will be a great idea for all app creators and website owners in 2020.

3d design app
Image credit: Chris Frank

In case you’re not sure if 3D elements will suit the overall visual identity of your brand, you can perform a site design audit before introducing any changes. Doing so will make it easier for you to get to grips with the big picture and make informed decisions.

Adaptability to the new foldable phones

The year of 2019 has been an important milestone for phone manufacturers all over the world. The long-awaited foldable displays finally became a reality. Practically all market leaders either expressed their interest in developing such a device or unveiled their prototypes capable of being folded in numerous different ways.

Realizing that stakes were high, Samsung tried to outrun its competitors. In April, the company pre-released its Galaxy Fold, the world’s first foldable smartphone.

Galaxy Fold
Image source: Samsung

Although the device was exposed to a number of quality concerns and Samsung had to delay its release, we have all reason to expect that foldable displays will enter the global mass market in 2020. This will naturally bring a lot of changes to user experience, for example:

  • A grip will depend on whether a person is holding a folded and unfolded device. The main task of UX designers is to make it convenient for both cases.
  • A user will have to be able to switch between different forms of a device seamlessly. That’s why app creators must ensure the continuity of an application, meaning that a person should have an opportunity to continue using it when upgrading to a new device.
  • Unfolded devices will allow users to have multiple active apps on their screens. So to create a truly outstanding user experience, designers will need to keep this multitasking capability in mind.
Galaxy Fold
Image source: Samsung

Versatile UX for device-neutral apps

Ever since the IoT technology came on the scene, the discussions about platform-agnostic applications have never left the tech community. Nowadays, our personal digital ecosystem is much richer than five, three, or even two years ago. We use mobile phones, PC, and laptops interchangeably on a daily basis but also wearables, smart home appliances (like Google home), and car dashboards (like the one Tesla offers).

For many years, responsiveness has been the main requirement of web solutions. However, responsive design is no longer optional, it’s the default. Today’s users will unlikely to tolerate an application that doesn’t adjust to screen size or platform.

responsive design
Image source: giphy.com

But, on top of that, they expect to receive an integrated experience. This means that information must be consistent across all the systems. And the process should be continuous, allowing a user to pick it up at any point on any device.

That’s why we foresee that device integration and synchronization will get to the forefront next year. Logically, creating a versatile UX design will become a huge new challenge for designers in 2020.

User control over the content

The interactive experience is another ‘big thing’ that has a huge potential to become a major UX trend in 2020. To be precise, some forward-thinking marketers had been trying to promote products with the help of interactive videos before. But this type of content, where the user interacts directly with the content, only managed to generate massive interest after Bandersnatch, a Black Mirror’s interactive episode, was released on 28 December 2018.

Bandersnatch
Image source: meg.onemega.com

As it turned out, fashion brands and e-commerce stores became the first adopters of interactive videos. This is because such videos not only offer an immersive experience but they also are an efficient money-catching tool. By watching them, users can shop while still consuming the content. This allows them to act on their desire to buy a product when the desire is at its highest point.

interactive shopping video
Image source: cdn.trendhunterstatic.com

Besides making online shopping easier and faster, interactive videos are also more enjoyable and captivating than ordinary videos. If you want to create a stunning visual design with a great user experience that will allow you to win over the competition in the coming year, then giving users better control over the content is definitely the right thing to start with.

Expansion of interface animations

Adding motion to button, tabs, menus and other visual elements is not a brand new thing in UI/UX design. We’ve seen it this year and it’ll continue being popular in 2020. However, as animations seem to still be in the process of gaining momentum, we’ll probably see even more animated interfaces on our screens in the next twelve months. Just like 3D design, moving objects help UX designers grab users’ attention as well as make their experience more realistic and engaging.

interface animations
Image source: tubikstudio.com

Yet, it’s important to remember that every animation you implement into the app interface should serve a purpose. In other words, you don’t have to animate everything on a page. If you do so, a user will be distracted by visual noise – which is no doubt not the outcome you’re aiming at.

Instead, you may create a feedback animation that will make app navigation easier. Specifically, it’ll show users that they’re on the right path after an action is taken.

feedback animation
Image credit: tubikstudio.com

Animated progress indicators are also a nice idea for most mobile apps. They help users understand that there aren’t any problems with the application, it just needs more time to perform a certain task.

Animated progress indicator
Image source: Dribbble

If you have doubts about whether you need to add more animated elements to the interface or not, we recommend you to conduct a design audit first.

Typography will still matter a lot

When it comes to conveying messages, companies have a wide array of formats to choose from. But while videos and images are considered the most captivating, text content remains the main and the most effective method of communication in the online world. That’s why typography never loses its relevance and, of course, it will still be in the spotlight in 2020.

What major change may we expect in the year to come? As a rule, a user gets a meaningful and memorable experience only when the design is well-balanced and consistent. Since we’ll probably see more 3D elements and animations in the interfaces, typography will have to reflect these effects too.

typography animated
Image source: andreirobu.com

Of course, this doesn’t mean that San-Serif fonts, which are now widely used in the digital space, will completely disappear during the next year. But UI/UX designers will become more creative with the way text is presented on a page. Chaotic typography with mixed sizes and patterns (e.g. filled and outlined letters), as well as experiments with text directions, will likely be quite common in 2020.

Chaotic typography
Image source: Dribbble (by Oleh Gvozdetskyi)

The obsession with dark themes

Dark Mode became the most noticeable visual change brought by iOS13 in September 2019. The feature provides the option of replacing the bright colors of an interface with black and dark grey, making it more pleasant for eyes in a poorly lit environment. During the month that followed this release, dark modes were also introduced by Instagram, Gmail, and Facebook (partially). So we can make confident predictions about the dark mode ‘fever’ that will likely expand in 2020.

iOS 13 dark mode
Image source: techradar.com

Besides aesthetic value, dark themes also improve the readability of text and are perceived as less harsh if a person uses a device at night. Whether to enable it or not is a matter of personal preference. But if you implement such a mode for your app, your users will for sure appreciate it.

Custom illustrations will fill up the interfaces

In 2020, designers will have to cooperate with digital illustrators more frequently as bespoke interface illustrations are another emerging UI/UX trend. Stock photos that have been quite popular for many years now are no longer acceptable. Stock photos simply don’t offer the level of uniqueness most brands and users seek. At the same time, digital art is much more flexible in terms of styles, shapes, compositions, and characters.

But catchiness isn’t the only reason why illustrations are so powerful. The correct illustrations in combination with other elements on a web page can help you make the right emphasis and draw visitors’ attention to the CTAs. They also make an interface more emotionally appealing and help to create the right tone and mood.

web page illustration
Image source: Dribbble (by Tubik)

Speaking about mobile development, custom illustrations have always been less popular in this sector. However, such a situation is going to change as they’re getting more and more common – not only on the onboarding screens but also at other touchpoints (e.g. error notifications).

mobile interface illustration
Image source: Dribble (by Icons8 team)

The final word

We want to give you a comprehensive review of the trends which will likely define the UX design space of 2020. We made our conclusions based on our professional experience and the latest information about technological advancements. Yet, the digital world is hyperdynamic and a lot may change in a blink of an eye.

Some innovative solutions may appear completely unexpectedly and change the rules of the game across several industries. But don’t worry. We’ll keep track of UX best practices of 2020 and let you know about all important trends.

Want to build your next product with us? Reach out!

Why Marketing Automation is Vital for Your Business Growth

Why Marketing Automation is Vital for Your Business Growth

By | cloud, marketing automation | No Comments

The number of enterprises which adopted or plan to adopt marketing automation is constantly growing. A report by Social Media Today shows that nearly 75 percent of marketers use at least one tool for automating marketing activities. And according to Statista, the size of global marketing automation market is expected to hit 25.1 billion U.S. dollars by 2023. Hence, it’s no wonder that conversations about marketing automation are quite common among marketers, CEOs, and CTOs.

Yet, as we see from the practice, not all of those people really understand what it is and why a company needs it. Even fewer of them know how to automate marketing processes right. We bet you have also heard of so-called marketing automation failures when someone invested lots of money in automation software and received no positive results at the end of the day.

In this article, we will try to sort thing out so you can do everything correctly to make your business grow with the help of marketing automation.

What is marketing automation?

In general, marketing automation is the utilization of software aimed at automating the company’s marketing activities. However, such definition is oversimplified and it does not take into account some crucial aspects. So let’s look at the whole concept in greater detail.

The foremost thing you should understand about marketing automation is that it’s not limited just to purchasing the software that would do all the work for you. To receive the expected return on investment, you should use the right tools in the right way. Otherwise, such tools can do more harm than good to your business.

Example:

Let’s take a typical situation when a company decides to automate its email marketing process. With the help of automation software, a sales team can send out promotional emails to the whole customer list in a simple and fast way. But would it help them close more sales? Well, maybe, but only in a short-term perspective. At the same time, it’s much more likely that a lot of people would want to unsubscribe from the company’s emails not to receive irrelevant information in the future.

So the main purpose of marketing automation is to deliver the right messages to the right people at the right time rather than just automate marketing activities. Hence, marketing automation software should help you nurture leads and, as a result, turn them into customers rather than do the hard sell automatically.

Key functions of marketing automation software

people in the office

When it comes to marketing automation, the first thing that comes into mind is email marketing. Sending out thousands of emails in one click can indeed free up a significant part of your team's working time. However, marketing automation software can do much more than that. The exact feature-set of such software will depend on the provider. But let’s take a look at the most basic features and functionality most of them offer.

SEO optimization

To get more leads, you need to get more traffic to your website in the first place. Marketing automation software usually offers a set of Search Engine Optimization tools. For instance, it can provide you with some recommendations for keywords and let you compare your keywords with the ones your competitors have.

Personalization tools

Personalization is probably one of the greatest benefits marketing automation brings. It creates the feeling that the company knows you by name and this helps brands build loyalty. For example, personalization tools will allow you to personalize email content and subject lines so your customers will get highly-targeted information tailored to their needs and product interests.

A/B testing

Marketing automation is not something you set and forget. It’s a continuous process that helps you get to know your customers better and learn from their behavior. That’s why we recommend you to opt for the software that allows for A/B testing of landing pages and emails.

Tracking customer behavior

Tracking behavior is essential in terms of providing customers with the most relevant content and spotting the hottest leads. This function will let you build strong relationships with customers and properly target your marketing efforts.

Segmentation

By dividing your customers into groups with some common characteristics you can talk to each of them individually but in an automated way. It’s worth mentioning that the segments are dynamic, meaning that a customer can migrate from one segment to another based on his or her behavior. Also, one person may belong to several segments.

Analytics

To get the most out of your marketing activities, you need to always measure and analyze. The analytics function will help you see what works and what doesn’t by allowing you to create reports, calculate your marketing ROI, monitor campaign performance, etc.  

Benefits you get with marketing automation

a laptop with analytics on the screen

Now, it’s high time to speak about return on investment you may expect after adopting marketing automation. Of course, everything will depend on a variety of factors, for instance, your business goals and inbound marketing strategy, software you’ll choose, and the way you’ll use different tools. But we hope the numbers and statistics below will allow you to see the full potential of marketing automation.

Higher revenue

This is the number one reason why companies need marketing automation software. Because let’s be honest: the ultimate goal of any business is making money. And if something can help you earn more, ignoring it is not a reasonable decision. The statistics show that companies which implemented marketing automation managed to increase their revenue by up to 77 percent.

Improved targeting

According to the survey, 70 percent of marketers believe that improved targeting of messages is the most essential benefit marketing automation brings. This is because it allows you to deliver personalized and relevant information to every customer. As a result, you build strong relationships with customers and don’t spend time and money on advertising to people who are not interested in your products.

Increase of conversion rate

If you have good website traffic but close only a few sales a month, investing in a marketing automation platform is the best business decision you can make today. Nearly 80 percent of companies that use marketing automation software said that their number of leads increased. On top of that, 53 percent of such businesses saw the higher conversion rate of leads into paying customers.

Stronger customer engagement

As we already mentioned, marketing automation lets marketers learn from customer behavior and track the performance of campaigns. This naturally results in more refined and targeted marketing strategies that allow brands to build loyalty and stronger relationships with the target audience. According to the survey by Liana Technologies, 45.9 percent of respondents believe that the opportunity to serve customers better is the critical advantage of marketing automation.

Enhanced productivity

Besides all those awesome things we mentioned above, marketing automation helps marketers work more efficiently. By using automation tools, your marketing and sales teams do not have to waste time on routine tasks and can focus on other priorities. A study shows that both business owners (33 percent) and marketers (74 percent) consider saving time a significant advantage of marketing automation.

Top providers of marketing automation software

If you decide to adopt marketing automation, you will quickly find out that the market is full of automation platforms. The good news that you have the opportunity to pick the software that fits you best and has necessary functions to cater to your specific business needs. But the bad news is that not all of the vendors are reliable and not all of the platforms offer the functionality you require to implement your inbound marketing strategy.

To stay on the safe side, we recommend you to choose among market leaders. The quality of their platforms is proven by the huge number of satisfied users. And they are always improving their products to keep the bar high.

Let’s take a brief look at some of the leading providers of marketing automation software you may want to consider.

1. Marketo

marketo screenshot
Image source: Jenna Molby

Marketo is a versatile marketing automation platform that offers rich functionality. Basically, you cannot go wrong with this software because it covers literally everything a modern marketer needs. Among other things, Marketo has a reputation for its analytics and email automation features. It lets users create large customer bases and manage complex marketing processes. So if you expect your business to grow and search for the solution that allows for scalability, Marketo is the best choice for you.

2. HubSpot

hubspot screenshot
Image source: HubSpot Blog

Hubspot is also a popular platform commonly used by marketers. Like Marketo, it offers a wide range of functions that are necessary for running inbound marketing campaigns. The main advantage of HubSpot is its intuitive design. The platform is indeed user-friendly so you don’t need to have any coding background to take advantage of all the features. However, the drawback is that HubSpot may not be as good as Marketo for large enterprises since it’s more focused on small and medium-sized businesses.

3. Pardot

pardot screenshot
Image source: Salesforce

Pardot is another marketing automation platform that may help you increase conversion rate and drive sales. It’s a Salesforce solution so its reputation speaks for itself. On top of that, Pardot makes a great emphasis on lead generation by tracking anonymous users from landing pages. The main drawback of this software is its price — Pardot is one of the most expensive solutions on the market today.

Marketing automation success stories

The numbers we mentioned above sound quite impressive. But we also want to show you some real-life examples of marketing automation success. If you still have doubts, we hope these stories will help you make a wise decision.

Panasonic Europe

Panasonic is a global corporation that has millions of customers all over the world. In 2012, it merged its European subsidiaries into one company and the new challenge arose. The company wanted to improve the level of B2B services by integrating all customer databases into one unit. At that time, Panasonic Europe had about 72 websites with over 63,000 web pages in 22 languages. So, as you might have guessed, achieving that goal was not an easy task.

To implement its marketing automation strategy, Panasonic Europe chose Marketo platform. The results they received were profound. Marketing’s contribution to the total company’s revenue grew from 10 to 26 percent in just 18 months! On top of that, the marketing campaign output increased by 5 times.

Randstad

Randstad is a leading recruitment company, the second largest in the world. It was established more than 50 years ago but didn’t use any marketing automation software up until 2015. As a result, Randstad’s website contained lots of quality content, it showed excellent traffic but all the efforts made by the marketing team were fruitless. The company didn’t have effective tools to capture new leads and nurture them in order to convert in customers. After the adoption of marketing automation, Randstad managed to increase the number of leads by four time and conversion rate by 25 percent in just one year.

Schwab Advisor Services

Schwab Advisor Services is a network of investment advisors who provide wealth management services. Due to the specifics of this business sector, a personal approach to every customer is a crucial factor that defines the effectiveness of the company’s activity. Hence, the main goal of Schwab Advisor Services was to improve the level of personalization and better adjust its marketing activities to the customers’ needs and expectations.

With the help of Marketo, the company saw an increase of 500% in the engagement rate. It also reports a dramatic improvement of the team’s productivity.

The bottom line

The success of most modern businesses heavily depends on technologies, and marketing automation software is one of the most effective tools you can invest in. Like any other automation solution, it will help your marketing and sales teams work more productively. But not only that. With the help of marketing automation platform, you can also increase the revenue and conversion rate, generate more quality leads, close more sales, and build stronger relationships with customers. Hence, if your business is aimed at growth, there is no chance you can go without marketing automation.

Looking for a professional team to help you with marketing automation? Contact us!

Hottest IoT-based Solutions Transforming the World

By | customer experience, design, IoT, omnichannel | No Comments

With the emergence of smart home devices like Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and more, everybody is going nuts about connectivity. Wearables such as smartwatches and fitness bands are no longer something rare or unique – a lot of us have and use them on a daily basis. This is also the case with remote-controlled home appliances that are connected to the internet, industrial assets and transportation systems. It’s no wonder that the IoT market size is expected to grow to $457.29 billion by 2020.

The concept of connected devices, more commonly called the Internet of Things (IoT), is not brand new – it was introduced in the early 80s. However, tech experts and ordinary people alike are still excited to see where this is all going.

As professional designers and developers, we also keep track of the current IoT trends. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the new IoT services and solutions which have the potential to become an integral part of our everyday lives in the near future.

Even more smart stores

It’s only been a year since Amazon opened its first no-checkout Amazon Go store to the public in Seattle. This automation solution has been made possible by the leaps in machine learning and IoT data processing. However, rumor has it that the company already plans its international expansion. As of today, the chain consists of nine smart stores located in the US but we can expect to have the first cashier-less store in the U.K in the nearest future. And, according to Bloomberg, Amazon will open about 3,000 other smart supermarkets by 2021.

Shopping in Amazon Go gif
Image source: giphy.com

The idea of doing shopping by just entering the store, grabbing the groceries and leaving without being checked out still sounds futuristic to a lot of people. Yet, Amazon is not the only company trying to take advantage of advanced shopping technology. Microsoft is already treading on its heels.

Recently, the company announced its partnership with Kroger, a large chain of US supermarkets. And many of the innovative solutions they created are based on IoT technology. Digital shelves, personalized ads and automatic alerts notifying store staff of low inventories are already redefining the way we think about supermarkets.

Reportedly, other retailers around the world will also have an opportunity to buy this solution. In other words, it’s just a matter of time before the smart store like Amazon Go will become an industry standard.

Smart fridges and the smart way of shopping for groceries

Smart grocery management is another category of IoT solutions which are going to take customer shopping experience to the next level. The main idea behind it is simple, yet genius. It is to make smart home products help us do grocery shopping in an easy and time-effective way.

The most famous smart device of this kind that already exists is Samsung Family Hub. Simply put, it’s a smart fridge that, among other things, can take photos of products stored in it. Users then can view such photos via their smartphones as they shop. On top of that, the fridge can mirror a TV, synchronize with calendars, share notes and messages. It can even help its owners control smart lighting, oven, front door video doorbells or security cameras etc. remotely.

Samsung Family Hub gif
Image source: Samsung.com

The smart home hub

Speaking about front door cameras, they’ll become smart too. At CES 2019, an IoT product called Door View Cam was announced by Ring company. The camera can be used as a regular glass peephole. But besides that, it can stream video to your smartphone and let you talk to anyone standing at your front door.

doors with Door View Cam
Image source: USA TODAY

As a side note, the smart home niche is expected to grow significantly in the near future (see the chart below). In short, the smart home niche can potentially become a gold mine for businesses that are ready to invest in IoT and new technologies. Among the many new products, you’ll find: the smart thermostat, smart speaker, smart plug, smart locks, and more.

Smart Home technology expected growth

Fairytales can come true with smart mirrors

Remember that episode from the fairytale about Snow White when she asks the magic mirror:  ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’ ? Well, it no longer sounds like a fairytale because a ‘magic’ mirror can actually answer that question. A smart mirror by Capstone Connected Home was introduced at CES 2019 and it’s expected to be released later this year.

a girl in front of a smart mirror
Image source: Capstone Connected Home

At first glance, this smart mirror looks like a regular mirror and can be used as such. But that is far from all it can do. Besides working as a mirror, this gadget also has Google Assistant built-in, so it can practically do all the things the latter does. For instance, you can check the emails while brushing your teeth, access social media, stream YouTube videos or even play games.

Another cool thing about Capstone Smart Mirror is that you’ll still be able to see yourself through the content shown on the mirror ‘screen’, so it’s not just a huge tablet. We believe that the idea behind this device is very promising and that smart mirrors will make our mornings more pleasant and productive very soon.

IoT provides the future of healthcare

Unlike the previous two types of IoT solutions which aim to make our lives easier, the Internet of Healthcare Things (or IoHT) also helps people feel better and be healthier. It even has the potential to save lives.

The list of ways you can implement this technology in practice is virtually endless. For instance, there are solutions that gather information about the patient’s health and send a notification to a doctor if something is wrong. Other apps help monitor user’s medication schedules, activities and sleep cycles. Some IoT devices can also automatically identify any glitches in medical hardware so they can be fixed in a timely manner.

E-Alert by Philips is a great example of the latter type of IoHT solution. This tool measures key parameters of magnetic resonance imaging and alerts if something in the system doesn’t work properly.

e-Alert by Philips chart
Image source: philips.com.au

Moreover, there are also IoT devices that help doctors train without the risk of doing any harm to bodies or patients. For instance, Osso VR is a training gadget for surgeons that combines IoT and VR technologies and allows doctors to perform realistic operations in a risk-free virtual reality space. The product was released a few years ago but is still actively discussed on different professional platforms, such as this year’s CES conference.

a surgeon using OSSO VR
Image source: Osso VR

Although some smart medical devices already exist, we expect even more are in development already. And the IoT technology is versatile and flexible enough to satisfy the needs of any medical organization or hospital.

Pets will live better too

Human beings are not the only creatures who can benefit from the innovative solutions you can create with IoT. With the help of IoT technology, the life of our four-legged friends can be more pleasant and safer as well.

Different pet trackers that utilize GPS technology appeared a few years ago and have already won the hearts of animal owners. You can attach a small sensor to a pets’ collars or embed the sensor into them. This makes it possible to easily find the location of your cat or dog via a smartphone.

People often treat their cats, dogs, hamsters, parrots etc. as family members. That’s why they seek out pet care products that will make their pets happier. One of the most innovative solutions in this regard is a smart bed such as Petrics Smart Pet Bed introduced at CES 2018. Besides controlling the key health parameters (weight, sleep time etc.), it allows for the remote thermostatic control to maintain the temperature that is optimal for a specific breed.

Dog on Petrics Smart Pet Bed

Another popular IoT product that has the potential to become a must-have for any pet parent is a smart feeder. This type of device remotely controls food supply for cats and dogs (portion sizes, feeding schedule etc.). Some also have a camera, allowing the pet owner to check in on the pet remotely.

Cat eating from smart feeder
Image source: HomeCrux

It’s worth mentioning that quite a few smart feeders have already been created. Yet, the niche is ever-growing so there’s plenty of room for new pet-caring products with more advanced features.

Hyperconnected businesses and IoT manufacturing

One can hardly find a business that will not benefit from IoT-fueled solutions. No matter what your company produces and sells there are always processes that can be automated and done faster and more efficiently.

As of today, a lot of businesses, especially in the manufacturing industry, are successfully harnessing the power of IoT technology. For instance, at the Siemens plants in Germany, 75 percent of the production process is automated. The figure is quite significant, however, Siemens is planning on taking it further by creating a smart plant that is entirely automated.

And Siemens is not alone with its intentions. According to Juniper Research, the number of industrial IoT connections is going to grow to 46 billion in the next four years. This means that all businesses must consider investing in IoT solutions to stay competitive.

IoT is revolutionizing our personal and professional lives

Many IoT solutions may seem revolutionary or even unbelievable to us. However, we have to come to terms with the thought that most aspects of our lives will include IoT devices in the very near future. At the same time, the Internet of Things provides fantastic potential for innovation for businesses. So if you have a brilliant idea for an IoT-based product that will either allow people to handle their routine tasks more easily or help you optimize your business activity, it’s the perfect time to turn it into reality.

Looking for a development team for your next IoT project? Just contact us!



The State of UX for 2019

The State of UX for 2019

By | design, interaction design, omnichannel, user experience, user interface, voice | No Comments

Keeping up with the current trends is important for any area, not to mention the UX design which directly influences the way your digital product is positioned and perceived by the users. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at what happened with 2018 UX trends and try to anticipate the emerging tendencies that have potential to become real big things in the coming year.

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How to Conduct a Design Audit to Strengthen your Brand

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A design audit might sound a little intimidating, after all, the word audit doesn’t exactly scream fun. But, it’s actually a very beneficial exercise. A design audit is merely an analysis of the design elements and branding guidelines in use by a company. Its main purpose is to make sure that the branding is consistent across all channels and outlets. When we say branding we do mostly mean visual design elements, however, branding is also the written and verbal communication as well as the user experience.

A good design audit will also take those into consideration, to make sure that’s consistent as well. The truth is that the need for a design audit is a sign of good things. It means a company has grown a lot and now simply needs to re-align its design efforts. Briefly, let’s discuss the benefits of design audit for companies and then let’s get right into how to conduct one.

Benefits of a design audit

No matter if you run a smaller company or a large corporation, a design audit might be in order if your company is growing and evolving. It’s a great idea because it will help you manage your visual design material and written message. In turn, this will lead to a well-defined identity and brand.

 

 

When inconsistencies in either visual style or messaging start shining through, a brand is weakened. It no longer has a solid foundation, and it starts diverging into different directions. Consistency is key, and by conducting an audit you are creating a chance to once again strengthen your brand. Think of a design audit as an opportunity to check the quality of the designs, the products, the user experience, and the overall strength of your company’s brand.

The visual branding audit

First thing first, it’s time to gather all the design assets. And we’re serious when we say all of it. Gather all the ads, the social media posts, the website and its desktop and mobile versions, the mobile apps, the letterheads, and the business cards. Include lead magnets, content upgrades, master classes or webinar slides. Include any pitch decks too. Anything that is a touchpoint for a customer. Yes, we do mean everything.

What you want to do here is to study the different collaterals to the notice patterns and their deviations. For example, you may notice that the social media ads are using the wrong logo file, or the quality of the graphics is just not what it needs to be. You may notice that you have many functionally similar sections throughout your website, but they are all designed differently.

As a result, you’re now aware of the issues. Meaning that you can now provide the people who run your Twitter and Facebook ads with the correct logo file and render final ad images in higher quality. You also now know that you will need to sit down and make sure that the footer is the same on every page, or that the custom made graphics for Leadpages use the correct brand colors.

 

 

Additionally, this might give you ideas on how you and the design team might want to update the branding going forward. Maybe you have too many or too few colors to perfectly depict the vibe your company is going for.

Tone, voice, and message branding elements

While you’re taking a look at all the visual elements, you should also consider the content itself. In the previous example, the only thing we didn’t mention was audio/radio ads because it’s the only thing that inherently doesn’t automatically come with a visual aspect too, as opposed to video.

Once again, it’s important to evaluate the actual content when performing your design audit. Read everything, listen to everything. Again notice what patterns you see, or should see but don’t. Just like with the visuals, you’re looking out to make sure that the tone, voice, and message is correct and consistent. As with all your marketing materials, it’s important to keep meticulous notes.

 

 

Pay attention to what no longer sounds like the company or any evolving patterns that just don’t seem right fit anymore. You might find that your company needs to have a more authoritative voice, be more playful, or use a softer vocabulary. Maybe you and your team realize that you can improve the overall tone, voice, and message of the company to be even stronger, better and relevant to the target audience.

The heuristics for usability and accessibility

Another thing a good design audit will include is a heuristic evaluation. This one focuses on the design process, examining usability and accessibility of a website or app. Usability and accessibility are crucial for a good user experience as these are the touch points between yourself and your customers. Those also help make your company and brand shine. Usability problems will affect people’s perception of your company too. They can be something simple, like a broken link, or complicated, like a confusing online order form. Accessibility problems, like missing alt tags, or low contrast between text and background, also mater.

Nielsen created a thorough heuristic evaluation guide – a standards manual if you like – back in 1994 that is still popular and reliable today. We recommend that you check out Nielsen’s heuristic evaluation guide here.

Next, you go through your website, web app, or mobile app, and little by little make a note of where the experience falls shorts of these heuristics.

For the best possible results of a heuristic evaluation, it’s best to have at least 10 people (ideally some of them should be web designers) who objectively evaluate your designs.

Utilize a design system

You can tie all of this together into a design audit system. Once you’re done with the audit it’s important to regroup. From there you can figure out what needs to go, what stays and what needs to be updated. When it comes to the visual design and brand messaging, consider implementing a design system. We’ve written a couple great pieces on how to build a design system to scale and what best to include in one. Keeping your styles in a design system will ensure ongoing consistency so that you don’t have to do a design audit every few months.

The value of a well-performed design audit

As you can see, a design audit can be extremely helpful. It will boost consistency for your company’s branding and improve the user experience. Don’t forget, the truth is that a design audit is a branding recalibration, which means that your company and brand are growing. With a professional design audit, you now know what you must do in order to tighten up your brand’s visuals and message.

Have you done a design audit before? Did you find it helpful for your company? Share any tips you might have for us in the comments!

How to Design an Outstanding and All Inclusive Design System

By | design, user interface, UX | No Comments

A design system is there to help a team keep the visual, written and even coded designs of its brand consistent throughout. A proper design system is much larger and more in-depth than a typical style guide. In this post, I’ll explain the different elements that go into creating an outstanding and all inclusive design system that will serve your team’s needs. Let’s go!

The anatomy of a design system

A design system must explain what elements can be used, when those elements can be used, and how they should be used.  The “what” is the introduction of the actual design elements, such as a button, along with its properties like size, colour, and font. , The “how” dictates the particular usage of each design element. For example, links can never be red, CTA buttons must have a specific size and colour. The “when” describes the relationship of the design elements to others, including their hierarchy. It’s when to use a CTA specific button, versus a normal button, or a link. For example, you only use a normal button with a contact form but you must use only the CTA button for all the lead magnet email forms.

The structure of a design system

The actual structure of your design system will vary depending on the needs of your company. To give you an example, Atlassian’s design system is divided into three parts, Brand, Marketing, and Product. Under each section, you can find design elements and guidelines that are relevant to that specific area. Logos in a web app might have different requirements and restrictions than a logo on a Facebook ad or a free download file.

 

 

Shopify, on the other hand, has guides for their apps and for their admin designs as well as general design principles that apply to both. They have their design system include rules and instructions for Visuals, Components, Patterns, and Content. That’s right, a design system isn’t strictly visual. You should also consider including guidelines on tone, voice, and message, as the language is also part of the brand. MailChimp had a whole design system dedicated to tone and voice alone.

 

 

Basic design elements to include

Each design system will have to cover key basic design elements such as colours or typography. That’s a given. Additional elements like layout or illustrations will vary depending on your company needs. Below I am going over the most common design elements you should consider including in your design system.

Typography

For typography, you must include the typefaces in use and downloadable files. For sizes, whether you’re using pixels, pts, or rems, include the specific number and show the size of the text next to it. But, only include sizes that are allowed to be used. Include typographic treatments and design styles such as font weights. Additional properties to consider adding include line heights, line lengths, mobile breaking points if your typography is responsive, and whether or not headlines and links are sentence or title case.

At the very least, include the individual text styles starting with p, em, strong, and H1-6 to whatever else is in your designs, like subtitles. Include the relationship of padding, line height and margins between H1 and p, H1 and H2 and so on.

 

 

Use IBM’s Carbon design system typography section for inspiration. It’s very thorough.

Colors

When it comes to colors include every color that is allowed to be used. If ones are for special circumstances make a note. Explain how to use the colors in relationship to one another such as text on a background, and keep in mind accessibility as well. If there are specific color combinations or pallets to be used, explain them too. Provide both, HEX and RGB values as well as code variables for developers. Add CMYK if you ever print anything too.

Check out how Salesforce is handling colors in their design system documentation.

Icons, graphics, and images

When it comes to icons, graphics, and images you must include sizes such as minimum and maximum restrictions. If you’re running a blog, include specifications for author’s and commenters’ avatars. For inline images, you can include alt tag best practices, size recommendations, as well as recommendations on the image’s content. For example, you might want to use only photographs, no images with text, or to never use dark or cluttered pictures but only ones with natural light or with pink backgrounds. Provide actual examples of good and bad photographs for better clarification.

Atlassian goes into extensive detail in the marketing section of their design system for both illustrations and iconography.

 

Additionally, Estonia’s design system has a fantastic section for imagery where they meticulously talk about the quality of photographs and their content as well. They include information on lighting, colours, post-production, and compositions. This makes sure that the images used within their designs are the right essence for the brand. This is exactly what an outstanding design system ought to do!

Motion

I’m using motion as an umbrella term. It can also refer to animations, transitions, mobile gestures or other movable behaviors and feedbacks. Motion can be complex to express; it’s got a lot of different but important properties. It’s a good idea to explain when it’s appropriate to use motion, what specific choreographies are okay, and how are they best to be used. Speed, sequencing and movements need to be addressed too.

 

 

A great example of motion can be found in Google’s Material Design system. It goes into a detailed overview of how motion can and should be used within Material Design. It also provides many dos-and-don’ts, with short videos snippets to better understand the intention.

Layout and grids

Layout and grids are important for web pages, mobile apps, and responsive designs.  Think of layout as common patterns to arrange the different contents within a screen. It can include information about what patterns to avoid and how to arrange the content within your layouts in an acceptable manner. You could get a little bit more specific and address how to use the larger design elements like the card designs that we especially see in web apps or mobile apps (commonly associated with Material Design). You’re welcome to provide a standard screen layout as the base.

Shopify’s design system has a great example of how they approach layout in their web app. It’s filled with recommendations, and it talks about many variables such as screen types and small-scale layouts too.

With grids, talk about the size of the columns and gutters, include pixels or % (if they are fluid), and mobile breakpoints.

 

 

From a coding perspective, go ahead and include the different class codes for the gird, and whether or not it can only be used on divs or other elements like images too. If there is a clearfix class, explain how and when to use it or whether or not the grid uses border-box or content-box box model. Consider including a vertical grid if you have one.

Take a look at Mapbox’s grid section – it’s comprehensive. Buzzfeed’s design system includes a whole section on flexbox too.

UI elements

No design system would be complete without explaining the various UI elements out there such as inputs, button, and forms, errors, lists and tables.

 

 

MailChimp is doing a great job with these. They have a Form Elements section in their design system that details buttons, selects, inputs, field help, radio buttons, and checkboxes. One by one, they include the styles and code for each element and their variation. For example, they have 8 different button example from a typical button to a combo button. For each, there is a description to explain how to best use it within a design. Consider including how the messages should be phrased in addition to how they should look.

Errors and feedback

MailChimp additionally has a designated Feedback section which talks about how to provide feedback to a user who is using their app. This section does include errors, but also other forms of feedback such as callout tips or small badges for inline feedback and labels.

 

 

Don’t forget, an input error is not the only thing that can go wrong. Errors can also include the 404 page or the 503 page and that’s exactly what Heroku includes in their error section too.

More design elements to consider

At this point, I think you have a pretty good idea of what goes into a well-defined, outstanding and an all-inclusive design system. However, I wanted to put together a quick list of additional ideas for you to consider as there really is a lot you can do here.

Conversations

HelpScout has a section for both Conversation Lists and Conversation Threads. Their product is conversation based so it makes sense they’d detail this part of their designs as well.

Navigations

Ant Design includes a section for navigations. It contains more than just the top nav we see on every web page. Here they define navigation as anything that tells a user where they are and it includes tabs, breadcrumbs, and pagination.

 

 

Lexicon categorizes navigation in a similar way. They have sections under navigation which include the typical primary and secondary navigation. They also include breadcrumbs, nav bar, and vertical navigation there too.

Logo

No design system would be complete without the logo section either. Louder Than Ten has their logo ready to download atop the page. Next, they mention good and bad sizing and cropping, as well as padding and sample applications.

Accessibility

I’ve briefly mentioned accessibility before. But let discuss it in greater detail right now. You can have a designated Accessibility section in your design system the same way Quickbooks does. Under the Accessibility section, they cover a wide range of topics including alt texts, readability, colours, and contrasts. They also have a list of additional resources for anyone interested in learning more about the topic.

 

 

Because accessibility is so important, it wouldn’t hurt to have the content be redundant in multiple places. Include the contrast content in both typography and colour sections. But, on top of that, have a separate accessibility section as well just like Quickbooks.

Putting it all together

Now that you understand the autonomy of an outstanding design system it’s time to go and make your own. You can do them in a couple of different ways. All of the linked examples you’ve seen in this article today have been made by large teams who put time aside to create these custom design systems and publish them live. If your team has the time and the resources go ahead and make a custom one for yourself too.

 

 

However, there are a couple of apps out there that will also help do it for you. It’s a perfect solution for smaller teams or smaller design systems. UXPin has a design system feature that you can utilize to create one of your own. It’s both designer and developer friendly. Additionally, InVision has a similar app that comes with a Sketch plugin.

Conclusion

Design systems don’t have to be complicated beasts. They are informative platforms that make sure your teammates continue to use a consistent design style within your company’s brand. Design systems don’t have to be lengthy or over complicated; they just have to let everyone know what can be used, when and how. If you have made a design system, with this article’s help or not, share a link in the comments below. We’d love to check it out!