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The State of UX for 2021

The State of UX for 2021

By Animation, digital transformation, experience design, rapid prototyping, UX No Comments

UX design is a dynamic field that brings us new trends every year, and the last twelve months are no exception. The global COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdowns have brought a sudden change to the way we interact with the world, both digital and real. People have not only started to spend more time online; they’ve started to think and behave differently. Naturally, the coronavirus situation has impacted the current state of UX and formed a foundation for the UX trends of 2021.

This article outlines the main 2021 user experience trends that we believe will dominate and are likely to shape the year to come. Take a look and see which trends you can make use of to outrun your competitors and stand out from the crowd.

Voice interfaces

We’ve talked about voice user interfaces (VUIs) in our State of UX for 2020 projection article. As this year has shown, voice commands remain one of the hottest trends in UX design. It’s safe to say that you shouldn’t ignore it for the coming year.

There’s no doubt that, in 2021, voice chatbots and virtual assistants will keep growing in popularity. Users continue looking for simplicity and efficiency when it comes to digital experiences. Market demand, high expectations, and the rapid development of artificial intelligence technologies have left brands no choice but to include voice-based features in their products.

Already, numerous businesses are laying the groundwork for widespread VUI implementation. For instance, Starbucks has introduced an AI-based chatbot called My Starbucks Barista. Its goal is to improve the coffee-ordering experience by allowing users to buy their favorite beverages via voice commands.

Minimalistic UI

Minimalism is probably one of the most noticeable trends in visual design these days. Users are experiencing a constantly growing number of critical messages that website owners want to deliver. Cookie popups, discount ads, and various notifications aim to engage and convert website visitors, but they also exhaust our attention. This is where minimalistic user-centric design comes to the fore.

But “minimalistic” doesn’t mean “dull” or “primitive”; it means “elegant” and “efficient.” Although a limited number of colors, design elements, and bright combinations is a must, UX designers can still play with proportions and compositions. Besides, the functionality of elements comes to the forefront, and the ability to properly highlight product features and deliver the right message requires a lot of creativity. Components with only decorative purposes, on the contrary, are gradually losing their relevance.

Minimalistic UI
Image source: tubicstudio.com

Clarity of content, messages, and navigation is another important aspect of the minimalistic approach to UX design. Information overload is a pain for most modern audiences – meaning that website owners should strive to make their UX writing clear and concise.

Negative space

Negative space is a big UX design trend that has grown out of the market demand for minimalistic UI. Simply put, negative space is the empty areas on page layouts either around the objects (macro space) or inside them (micro space). It has already become a separate design element that plays a vital role in visual aesthetics and user experience optimization. Google’s homepage, Apple’s official store, and some websites made in Webflow are great examples.

Leaving some space empty, adding “silence” in the design, must always be meaningful. Otherwise, users can perceive it as a lack of information. The main function of the negative space is to declutter a web page in order to draw users’ attention to crucial objects and messages. Establishing a sharp content hierarchy helps UX designers draw the user’s focus on what’s most important.

Negative space
Image source: dreamerux.com

The negative space is also sometimes referred to as “empty space” or “white space.” All these terms are interchangeable. When the space is free of elements and you can also use this user experience trend in dark mode or with any other color.

Imperfect elements

Online experiences after the COVID-19 pandemic will not be the same as those we got used to. UX design reflects the imperfection in a relatable way. To make the brand’s digital presence more relatable, designers intentionally implement some “imperfections” in layouts. It may be anything, from hand-drawn objects to extraordinary elements in compositions or proportions.

Imperfect elements in ui
Image source: mailchimp.com

In general, imperfect design can be an excellent way to demonstrate the brand’s identity and highlight its uniqueness. However, if you want to apply this UX trend, you have to remember one critical rule: there needs to be a balance. It won’t work if you overdo things.

Neumorphism

The neumorphic style is a combination of two other massive approaches in UI design,  skeuomorphism and flat design, which are often considered opposite to each other. Skeuomorphism is all about mimicking real-world objects and the way we interact with them.

It was popular a few decades ago when hyperreal elements were necessary to create an intuitive and user-friendly UI. A trash bin is one of the examples. On the other hand, flat design is a more recent, simplistic concept centered around two-dimensional elements, minimalism, and bright colors.

Neumorphism takes the best of both worlds. It uses graphic-intense elements, shadows, and gradients to make buttons and cards resemble the objects in nature while not precisely recreating them. The neumorphic style doesn’t push realism to an extreme extent. Instead, it strives to achieve a “soft” look with pale colors and subtle contrast.

Neumorphism
Image source: justinmind.com

Neumorphism has been one of the most discussed topics among UI/UX professionals for the last year or so. While there are still not many real digital products whose user interfaces follow this approach, a lot of designers are excited about this concept. Professional platforms like Behance and Dribbble already contain a number of neumorphism examples. So we have all reasons to believe that this trend will finally find its place in our phones and laptops in 2021.

Neumorphism
Image source: dribbble.com
Image credit: Varsha Singh

3D elements and parallax

Parallax effect and 3D elements are not something entirely new in UX design. We have already seen how they are implemented in many web design solutions. However, we still observe these user experience trends marching ahead in popularity.

First, it’s a significant increase in use. Today, 3D elements and the parallax effect are no longer fancy exotic things on the web. They’re more commonplace, especially on websites and apps representing fashion and e-commerce brands that want to stand out.

3D elements in ui
Image source: uxdesign.cc

Another tendency is the attempt to combine a parallax effect and 3D graphics in one interface. When you use parallax scrolling, the background of a web page and foreground elements are moving at a different speed. It alone creates a feeling of depth. By adding 3D objects to this effect, you can create a truly immersive experience that will stay in users’ memory for a long time.

parallax scrolling
Image credit: toyfight.co

Asymmetry

As the screens of our devices become wider, it’s given rise to the asymmetrical trend in UI/UX design. In general, asymmetry is an attribute of brutalism, a style in art and web design that is opposite to minimalism. However, if used separately from other brutal design elements, it can make your website look interesting while allowing it to remain subtle and elegant.

asymmetrical trend in UI/UX
Image source: i.pinimg.com

The UI/UX trend for asymmetrical layouts is often implemented along with other creative web design techniques, such as a broken grid, overlapping elements, and split screens. You can also apply asymmetry to typography. If done right, it will make your brand messages more noticeable and memorable.

asymmetry in typography
Image source: dribbble.com

However, it’s vital to keep in mind that asymmetrical design doesn’t mean “randomly placed UI elements.” The unusual way of locating objects on layouts should guide a user’s eye in the right direction and help a brand emphasize important information.

Animations

Today, when we enter a random website on the internet, chances are we’ll see GIFs, micro animations, animated illustrations, or some other elements of motion design. Animations remain popular in user experience design, and the frequency of their use keeps growing.

Besides being visually attractive, moving objects can improve user engagement and simplify navigation. They can also breathe life into digital products or services – making them more personable.

Animations in ui
Image source: justinmind.com

If you want to use this software development trend in user interface design, it’s critical to do it wisely. Objects that float on a screen with no particular purpose can confuse visitors, prompting them to leave a web page even sooner than they’ve planned. Animation elements shouldn’t make user interfaces unnecessarily complicated, either. They always must be relevant, valuable, and smooth.

Information architecture

Information architecture is the way different pieces of content are organized and structured on a page. It’s an essential element of user-centered design (UCD) that aims to make digital environments more comfortable for users. Building an effective, useful, and coherent information architecture is a mandatory stage of the UCD process, along with user research and usability testing.

Information architecture
Image source: XD Ideas

To create a decent information architecture, UX designers need to have a solid understanding of the product’s target audience, their behavior, and the reason they use a digital solution. Users should be able to achieve the desired result without it taking too much effort. That’s why the user's goals, clear navigation, and content representation (including blind-spot monitoring) must always be taken into account at the wireframes stage of the design process.

Final thoughts

We created this projection article to give you a leg up in today’s hyper-competitive digital world. All UX trends mentioned here can definitely improve the user experience of practically every software solution or website. They can also make your product more visually attractive to its target audience, even when user expectations are high.

Nevertheless, the past year showed us that it’s impossible to anticipate everything. So, we’ll keep you in the loop and provide a regular update on what’s happening in the UX area.

Looking for a professional team to build your next digital product? We are ready to help!

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!

The Role of VR & AR in E-commerce

The Role of VR & AR in E-commerce

By AR, customer experience, ecommerce, UX, VR No Comments

The competition among online retailers continues to grow, dramatically in light of the consequences of COVID-19. Capturing customer attention becomes more and more challenging, not to mention important. A wide range of choices and high customer service standards have made modern shoppers more demanding than ever. It means that getting ahead in the market is no longer just a matter of posting quality product photos. To stand out, online stores need to be creative and actively adopt innovation. In this context, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) show great promise in transforming the entire e-commerce industry.

In this blog post, we’ll explain why it’s high time to implement VR and AR into your e-commerce business. We’ll also discuss how these technologies can increase conversion rates and enhance the customer shopping experience.

Why e-commerce stores should adopt VR and AR now

Online shopping is on the rise today. Statistics show that e-commerce platforms are experiencing an unprecedented increase in traffic since the beginning of the year. The world’s most popular retail websites generated 21.96 billion visits in June 2020 compared to only 16.7 billion just a few months before, in January 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has, of course, played a crucial role in such a dramatic shift. Today, many people avoid shopping in physical stores because they want to minimize the health risks associated with the coronavirus.

For the same reason, customers are getting more accustomed to buying things in a few clicks instead of spending a lot of time visiting shopping malls. It shortens the buyer’s experience where they can purchase their products faster and with greater convenience.

covid-19 online shopping

However, the expectations of digital buyers are rising as well. People pay attention not only to what you sell but also to how you sell it. According to PWC’s research, 73 percent of customers said that shopping experience is a decision-making factor for them (along with product price and quality). Another study shows that most buyers believe that new technologies improve the purchasing process, both in real life and on the internet.

online shopping stats
Image credit: smartinsights.com

Finally, online shoppers love immersive experiences enabled by virtual reality and augmented reality. To give you some hard numbers, 61 percent of survey respondents pointed out that the AR technology has influenced their buying choices. In addition, the price for virtual reality headsets is going down. For example, you can buy Oculus Quest 2 for just $299. The availability and affordability of VR devices open the doors to a number of opportunities for VR-related shopping and user experience optimization.

Benefits of VR and AR for online retailers

online retailers

Some online retailers hesitate to invest in VR and AR because they believe it’s just another passing user experience trend. However, this belief has few legs to stand on. In reality, VR and AR can completely reshape the way an e-commerce store functions, taking its KPIs to a new level. Here are the main advantages internet merchants can benefit from by adopting virtual and augmented reality.

Brand awareness

Building effective marketing campaigns is a challenge for any online business. Even if internet users see a company’s ad on Google or social media, odds are they’re unlikely to click on it, never mind being able to recall it in a few minutes. It’s not necessarily because the ad itself is bad. It’s because people are exposed to a huge amount of ‘digital noise’ these days.

In other words, people need a reason to remember a brand. Businesses that use VR and AR are more likely to stand out and get noticed as they offer a unique experience that internet users cannot get anywhere else.

Increased sales

To achieve success, e-commerce businesses can’t rely on only driving traffic to their websites. You need to engage and convince your potential customers. VR and AR experiences are two things; immersive and impressive. They make people want to engage with the virtual world. Just like when users play VR games, customers engaged with an online VR experience is more likely to stay on a web page or in an app for a longer time.

For online retailers, it means that visitors will view more products and make more purchases. Besides, the implementation of AR and VR is a great way to increase the number of returning customers who are loyal to your brand.

Reduced return rates

When buying things online, people cannot touch or experience a product. That’s why the risk that the customer makes a mistake and purchases something that doesn’t fit their needs is high. As a result, online retailers get many returns and spend a lot of resources on admin and managing these returns.

AR and VR give customers an opportunity to ‘feel’ a product and make sure that it’s exactly what they are looking for. By adopting these technologies, e-commerce stores can reduce the number of returns and save operational costs.

Benefits of VR and AR for online shoppers

The implementation of virtual and augmented reality is beneficial not only for e-commerce businesses but also for their customers. Many people choose to shop in brick and mortar stores because they don’t want to waste money on something that looks great on a photo but is completely different in real life. AR and VR experiences can significantly mitigate this fear. Let’s take a closer look at how virtual and augmented reality helps digital buyers make better shopping decisions.

Convenience

Since visiting a virtual store or showroom resembles real in-store experiences, it makes online shopping more convenient and anxiety-free. By moving around a fictitious environment, people can explore products similarly to how they would in a physical store, but from the comfort of their homes. Such simulations of real-life experiences allow customers to save a lot of time while enjoying most of the benefits offered by traditional shopping.

Try-before-you-buy

AR apps can cut down the time customers spend choosing the right item. For instance, users can just point their smartphone camera at their feet to see if a particular model of sneakers suit them.

Augmented reality also allows buyers to try things virtually, which is invaluable when you want to buy clothing or makeup. For example, customers can simply download an AR-enabled app to see if a particular lipstick shade looks good on them.

Try-before-you-buy
Image credit: techcrunch.com

Satisfaction

People want to receive positive emotions when they spend time on the internet, and online shopping is no exception. In this context, good customer service is fundamental, however, it’s far from enough. Good customer service is a bare minimum that all customers expect when shopping online.

To get ahead of the curve, e-commerce businesses should pay a lot of attention to customer satisfaction and strive to not just meet but exceed buyers’ expectations. AR and VR are perfect tools to achieve this goal. Besides making shopping more convenient, these technologies can gamify the entire process of buying products online. Leading shoppers to not only wanting to purchase items but to return later, as they had an enjoyable time in the process.

VR and AR in e-commerce: success stories

According to the survey by Gartner, almost 50 percent of retailers plan to invest in augmented or virtual reality. While many are yet to make VR and AR a reality, there are still plenty who have made the transition. We’ve already seen many success stories about AR and VR implementation into e-commerce businesses. To inspire you for digital transformation and innovation, we’ve selected a few choice examples.

IKEA AR app

IKEA has an AR-based mobile application that allows users to see if a specific furniture item fits their room. The app shows all items at scale to give customers a sense of the products’ real dimensions. Users can also choose multiple items and place them in a room at once to make sure they look good together.

Sephora AR app

Sephora’s AR-enabled application was created to let users virtually try on makeup. First, the app scans a person’s face to figure out where the eyes, lips, and nose are. After that, users can choose different looks, for example, lip colors or lash styles, and see if the makeup suits them.

Sephora AR app
Image source: theverge.com

Since the first release of the Sephora AR app, a lot of brands have launched similar solutions. So, it becomes a real trend in the beauty industry. For instance, take a look at the prototype below. Such an app would allow you to try on different lipstick shades, eye and brow makeup, and even nail color.

Andrea Hock

Dior VR store

Dior’s VR store gives visitors an opportunity to virtually browse the collection of the brand’s soaps, lotions, etc. and buy their chosen products online. These VR retail experiences have helped the company adjust to lockdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we would be very surprised if these changes aren’t here to stay.

Dior VR store
Image source: glossy.co

Final thoughts

It’s hard to imagine the future of the e-commerce industry without the VR and AR experience.

Although the adoption level of these technologies among online retailers have yet to take off, the situation is expected to change in the near future. It means that you can reap all the benefits of implementing immersive experiences into your business before everyone else in the market does the same.

Want to learn more? Reach out!

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!

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!

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 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 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!