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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!

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

By | design, user experience, user interface | No Comments

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 build Design Systems to Scale

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In our ever-growing tech world, we need the design to scale as fast as other aspects of that world do. But design doesn’t scale easily since it’s a mixture of art and science, form and content. So how to achieve this?

Design Systems can be the answer.

Let’s dive deeper into this and see what they are and how they can help scale design.

Anyone who has ever played with Lego can understand what a design system is. It’s basically a Lego-like method+process that product teams need to make design and development more consistent. In fact, a lot of folks have already come to the idea that they need design systems. 69% of enterprise companies either use a design system or are currently working on one.

The core benefit of design systems is that they help establish consistency between the design and development processes and eliminate repetitive work. In a design system, everything starting with design patterns and ending with code references for each little bit of design are being documented. As a result, design and development go hand in hand.

 

If this still sounds unfamiliar to you and you still cannot grasp the idea of design systems, just take a look at Google, Spotify, Atlassian or any other big brand. They have got their very own design systems.

 

When Spotify’s Design Director Stanley Wood joined the design team in 2012, he was shocked at the lack of consistency between Spotify’s products and features from the design perspective. And since a redesign didn’t solve the problem, he decided to find a better solution. He knew that a team of distributed designers that is spread across different time zones should have a chance to work together to create a coherent experience.

 

So, in 2014 GLUE (a Global Language for a Unified Experience) came into life as Spotify’s Design Language System. It is available throughout the company and it has helped align design across all design teams within the company.

Version 1 of Spotify’s Guidelines | Stanley Wood

Google’s Material Design is another successful design system. Note that it evolved over the last few years to become what it is today. And it’s still evolving. Do you remember how in 2011, Gmail was redesigned with flatter buttons? Then in 2012, Google Now introduced layered “cards.” These elements are now all formalized under Material design but those design upgrades back then were a part of a larger, very purposeful and deliberate process.

What has been most impressive is Google’s ambition to unify the design across a set of varied products. Hence, Material Design can serve as proof that design is POSSIBLE to scale.

Image source

But how?

Well, there are a few steps you would want to take to be able to build a design system to scale. Here you go:

  1. Check if you really need a design system

There is always the possibility that you might be carried away by the trends, the hype. A lot of us often start looking for solutions for non-existent problems. Yes, this does happen. But then, it turns out that we have not checked the problem yet. So, if a simple redesign will work for you, then there is most probably no need for coming up with a design system.

 

The idea is that you should really do your homework and see if your company needs it or not. Building a design system or outsourcing it to a design and development company will take time and money. Estimate your needs properly before allocating resources to building a design system.

 

  1. Make sure your people know what to expect

Not everyone understands the value that design systems provide. So, your responsibility will be to teach your team what a design system is and how it can help make work easier. Be the influencer, the trend-maker in your company. Call it whatever you want.

 

If you have decided to build a design system, the company is going to pay for it. So you might want to make sure all the stakeholders are positive about the idea. With this in mind, maybe it’s worth involving someone from your team who has done this before or has helped someone earlier to build a design system? Think about it!

 

  1. Develop a game plan

Remember the famous quote? “By failing to plan, you are planning to fail.” It seems obvious that you need a game plan but a lot of people don’t plan the work in advance and then they get into trouble due to unexpected circumstance or force majeure. Of course, you cannot foresee a force majeure but you can at least have plan B if it happens.

 

So, basically, the idea is that you need to define your mission or goal or a set of values and go for them. Each company has got its own industry-specific challenges, so take your time to evaluate the situation, explore the opportunities, the pain points for your team and customer in order to build the right system for your needs. And most importantly, focus on creating a design system that is consistent and scalable.

  1. Review and adopt best practices

Don’t start from scratch, it might take too much time and resources. Review existing design systems and see which one is closer to your vision. Many companies have made their design systems publicly available. So, why not take a look at them?

 

  1. Conduct a UX/UI audit

You are conducting a UX/UI audit to know what you are working with. This whole thing is pretty much about documenting what exists. This can be time-consuming, but the game is worth the candle since through a UX/UI audit you will discover:

  • Why conversions are low
  • How to improve onboarding
  • Why retention rates might be low

In other words, you will get a clearer understanding of who is using your product and what problems they are facing. After the audit, you will come up with improvement strategy based on the things you have learned.

 

  1. Do it little by little

A design system is not a project, it’s more of a product. Hence, it needs to evolve and become more refined. It’s a living document. Make sure your design system has got a roadmap and all product-related stuff. Take it through a few iterations, talk to your team to clarify what’s coming next, and then set a new list of problems that you will be solving. Iterate as much as possible until you come up with something that makes sense.

  1. Stay organized

Creative people love the chaos but it should not be the case here. Document everything! Sounds simple, right? But it’s sometimes really hard to do things the “neat and clean” way rather than the “quick and messy” way. Staying organized reduces clutter in email or Slack and helps keep the team sane and happy. Otherwise, you might end up where you started – chaotic styles everywhere!

 

Most importantly, know where you will be storing all your creations and how you are going to make them accessible to your team members.

Conclusion

As soon as you feel the need to have a design system for your company, you will want to jump into building one. If you are going to do that in-house, then make sure you communicate with your peer designers and take into account the above steps to build the best possible design product ever. And if you are thinking about delegating the work to another company, then make sure to choose a team that knows how to do it right.

 

10 priming techniques Pro UX Designers should use

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When it comes to UX design, the looks are not the most important thing even though it may appear that way. There was a really annoying trend in the beginning of 2000s, when every website tried to look as extravagant as possible. Flash player was used as much as it could be. The result was that websites looked fantastic and had beautifully animated UI. Yet, it soon became apparent that people hated using such websites. Sure, they looked pretty, but they were horrible to use. Designers got smarter and instead started focusing on function.

The UX designers of today are very different than a decade or two ago. We were still in the nascent stages of UX back then. Now we know that UX can make or break an application or a website. Look at the uproar that is created if Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat make a change to their UX. There are cries about how the app is now ruined and people want the old thing back. That is why the experience is the number one thing that pro designers focus on. However, the true top level designers aren’t trying to just make things easy to do – they are trying to influence the actions of the user.

This is something which salespeople have been using for a long time and designers are finally getting comfortable with. It is called priming, and it will change the way you think about UX.

Understanding Priming and Its Power

Before we get into how you can use Priming to make people do what you want, let’s focus on what it is. Priming is a term you may be aware of – it means something that is used to make an action happen. Priming, in psychology, can be understood as the act of subconsciously making a person behave in a way you want.

Basically, in the context of UX, it means designing user experience in such a way that it helps the users to complete actions you wish them to take. Note that priming isn’t about telling people what to do. If you see a sign that says ‘Caution – Wet Floor’, you are being told what to do. Priming is subconscious, it means you guide people the right way by giving their minds little hints which they can subtly pick up.

If you have ever played video games you will know priming. Ever played Doom or the countless games inspired by it? Ammo and guns were hard to find. However sometimes you would enter an area full of guns, ammo, and health. You weren’t happy – because you knew that this meant you will have to fight a huge monster now. It worked so well that you would dread it every time the game gave you some ammo and health. They primed you into understanding when you need to put up a serious fight. There were no signs, no videos, no captions – just elements that spoke to your subconsciousness.

The real power of priming is seen when people go against priming – because then you can see why priming is important. Imagine a shop had an exit sign and an entry sign, like many shops do. Now, imagine if the exit sign was green and the entry sign was red. This would cause everyone to do a double-take. Even though it still says Exit and Entry it feels wrong without priming. Our brains are primed to ‘’red means stop’’ and ‘’green means go’’, and these colors are used in this manner everywhere.

Why Priming is Important for Companies

Priming is important because of the impact it makes. Priming is based on the science behind how our minds work. We like to think that we are rational beings that make decisions based on facts, but we all know that we are beings of perception. What matters to us isn’t what is in front of us but how we perceive it, and the perception is based on observation. We often do things because we have been primed to do so, without even realizing it.

Priming has been used in brick and mortar stores for a long time. You may have noticed that the things you need to buy the most in grocery stores – things such as bread, milk, eggs – are almost always places in the back of the store. You may be annoyed by it – why don’t they place the most bought items near the counter, decreasing the time you need to spend in the store? The answer is simple. They have intentionally placed the goods people want the most far away, so they have to walk past everything else in the process. Most of us end up picking something else along with the necessities, such as a juice or a snack.

Priming is also very commonly seen in museums. You may have seen the ‘’Exit through the gift shop’’ sign in many museums. Museums literally build gift shops that need to be crossed to go to the exit. Now, you don’t need to buy anything from the gift shop, and you will have probably not even checked out the gift shop. By making you go through it they increase the chances of you liking something and buying it.

Priming in UX

In the context of UX priming means designing an interface which guides the customer, subconsciously, towards a certain action. It means giving a person the signals that subtly influence them into making a purchase, signing up for a service, or any other action you may desire.

The reason these 10 priming techniques should be taken seriously is simple – they come from cognitive psychology. These techniques are based on scientific findings of trailblazing scientists trying to get a better picture of how the mind works. Each priming technique has been tested and proven multiple times.

Before we begin – The Ethics of Priming

It is important to understand that priming is very different from manipulation. Manipulating a customer into doing something is definitely unethical but that is not what priming is about. Priming means helping the customer make the right choice without explicit instruction. When you use priming correctly you do not end up fooling people into buying your products. Priming is used to make the user experience intuitive so you do not have to give instructions, which leads to people falling in love with the experience on your website or application.

We all go through this problem. When you sign up for a new service there is confusion in the beginning. It is the first time you are using the website; it makes sense that you will not know what option is where. If you use priming correctly you can guide people to do the right thing without them even knowing it.

One of our favorite examples of priming in real life is by Apple. There were a lot of complaints about the way the wireless Mighty mouse is charged. The charging cable connects to a port on the bottom of the mouse, making the mouse unavailable for use when being charged:

Now, when you look at it you can see that it looks very stupid. You may be wondering how Apple could make a design decision this bad. Well, they didn’t. The Mighty Mouse 2 is intentionally designed this way to prevent people from leaving it wired. Apple knew that people would just attach the charging cable and leave it attached, then be annoyed by it, which will lead to a dissatisfying experience. The mouse can go up to a month without being charged. Charging it for 2 minutes gives you enough battery for 9 hours. Leaving it on charge is also bad for it, since the battery used deteriorates if the mouse is needlessly left connected to the charger.

Apple didn’t write a warning on the mouse to not use it while it is being charged. They didn’t write it in the instruction manual – there are no warnings. They just made the design decision to make it inconvenient to leave the mouse on charge. The result? Everyone only remembers the great wireless experience and is never annoyed by the wire.

There are no ethical considerations here because the customer isn’t being defrauded or manipulated in any way. Yet the perfect user experience is maintained without giving any instructions. That is the ultimate aim of priming.

 

Priming technique 1 – Availability heuristic

Availability heuristic refers to our brain’s tendency to weigh easily and recently available information, more than old information. The memory that is the most easily available will be the most affective. We assume that the thing we thought of first may be the most important. For example, if you see a news story about an accident you start driving a bit more carefully. The chances of you being in an accident haven’t actually increased, but the memory of the news story of the accident is easily accessible in your brain, and it thus becomes important information.

Remind a user of a problem they face, and they’ll consider it a problem worth solving. Try these two things to keep their problem easily available to their mind and thought process:

  1. Designing a website make sure you will talk about the problems your product solves, not what it does. “Get wireframes build faster” is better than “Wireframes build online.”
  2. Manage users expectations, giving them a feedback when they solve a problem, and remind them what it was. “Congrats— only two questions left” is better than just “Congrats!”

Priming technique 2 – Attentional bias

Our thoughts aren’t as free as they seem – they are controlled by the other things we may be thinking about at the time. Attentional bias means that the recurring thoughts in our brains change how we perceive reality. You may have noticed that usually the person who hates something is the first one to notice it. The person most bothered by cockroaches will be the first one to see one. This happens because they consider cockroaches a threat and thus their brain is on the lookout for such things.

You need to look at what makes people think of the wrong thing and remove any mentions of it. For instance, do not talk about how you will not send a customer spam when they sign up for an email. Now you’ve planted the idea of you sending spam in their mind, and they perceive it as a threat and will not sign up.

Look at the difference between these two landing forms. Impact mentions the privacy policy, while the Wistia knows that mentioning it will make people think about it, and omits it. The same privacy policy applies to both, but Wistia knows there’s no need to bring attention to it:

On the other hand, Impact adds a special link to the privacy policy on the text box to enter your email address. This immediately brings you attention to the fact that giving them your email is different than giving them the rest of the info and makes you feel slightly uneasy. It makes you think about what they could do with your email.

Priming technique 3 – Illusory truth effect

The illusory truth effect is, quite frankly, a bit too powerful. The illusory truth effect is that a statement is considered the truth if it is repeated often – regardless of whether it is actually true or not. For instance most people will say that their country is the best. This isn’t dependent of their country actually being the best – it is just what they have heard repeated around them, and they believe it simply because everyone says it.

Using this for your UX is dead simple. You need to repeat the good things said about your company. If you keep calling your product ‘’The city’s favorite product’’ enough times, people will eventually just accept that it is. Simply saying something again and again makes it true in the minds of people.

Look at how Microsoft is using this technique to make people shift from Chrome to Edge. If you use Windows 10 on a laptop you may have seen the following notification:

They keep repeating it and you know what happens? One day you wonder if it is really true and try it. You find it to be good enough – note that you don’t actually measure the battery usage yourself. Yet, since Microsoft knows Edge is a good enough product if people try it, just getting you to try it is a victory for them.

 

Priming technique 4 – Mere exposure effect

The mere exposure effect is very important for UX. The mere exposure effect is a cognitive bias where we favor things which are familiar, even over a better alternative. People like what they like not because they have assessed it in any way but simply because it is familiar. UX can employ this priming technique in great ways. You can make your UX similar to UX with which people are already familiar, and they will love using your UI.

This is already how we do it, subconsciously. Most websites use a similar pattern, with menus on top or left and content in the center. Here’s something to ponder: imagine that you can rework the whole philosophy of web design and come up with a new template. As far as you can see, the new template you have come up with makes actions faster because one has to jump through fewer hoops to accomplish them. You make people try this system out and they will hate it and will accomplish the task in a much longer time. Why? Because as long as the design is familiar, their brain already knows what to do and how to do it, even if this is their first visit. Without that mental key, things are not going to be easy for them.

Priming technique 5 – Context effect

Everything is relative to us. The human brain doesn’t keep things in isolation – all pieces of information are stored in relation to each other. This means that simply by changing the relation you can change the way a thing is perceived. For example, you can have a great romantic dinner date at a restaurant which provides the right context. The seats are comfortable, the aroma is great, the service is good, and the food tastes fantastic as well. This will make you like the person you are on a date with more, because you are meeting them in the right context.

You can go on a date with the same person but in a bad context. Maybe it was too hot and both of you are sweaty now. Maybe the restaurant isn’t that good. You are on a date with the same person, but because the context isn’t as good, you may not like that person as much. This is why some of our best memories of our loved ones are from holidays or adventures.

Context matters a lot when it comes to UX as well. Want people to feel happy about something? Put up graphics of balloons, confetti, and cakes and people will feel good about it. Want people to be afraid of something? Add a few pictures and warning signs. Note that you do not even need to relate the things directly to what you want them to dislike – simply placing it in the right context will do the job.

Here is a mistake people often make: they give negative feedback to the users. We have all experienced this when filling out forms on the internet. You are choosing a username and the box goes red because you used the wrong character, or the password box goes red because your password appears to be too simple. Do not make customers feel punished. If they keep getting similar feedback from your form it quickly becomes frustrating. Instead of a harsh red go with a soothing orange which turns to green when corrected. Make it feel like you are guiding people, not correcting their wrongs.

Priming technique 6 – Cue-dependent forgetting

We have talked about how our memory works – it is all relative. Memories aren’t stored as individual objects, but as connections and relationships. You may have a tough time remembering an outing. Your friends will be talking about when you went to a club, and you won’t be able to remember anything. Then someone says ‘’Remember, we also ran into Dan outside the club?’’ You remember meeting Dan and suddenly all the memories of the club, which you couldn’t access a minute ago, come rushing into your head.

You can make people remember the things you want them to remember by giving cues. Does your client sell anniversary gifts? Add a lot of wedding cues, make the users remember the day they get married and feel the same way again. You just have to provide a cue and memories start rushing in.

Look at how Facebook now reminds you of specific days and events – it gives you cues which take you back to when you were a more active user of Facebook.

If you use Google Photos you get the same option. Often you are told to ‘Revisit’ a day. You are shown all the pictures you took at an outing. It creates a very positive emotional experience which in turn makes people more ardent users of Google Photos.

Priming technique 7 – Mood-congruent memory bias

Your mood affects how you perceive and remember things, much more than you may think. Our brains can be primed into feeling a certain way depending on factors and memories we may not even be aware of. For example, if something bad happens to you on a holiday, then every time the holiday comes back you will remember the bad thing. Eventually, everything that reminds you of the holiday will result in a bad mood, simply because of the connection that has been built in your brain. When you are enamored with someone new, they look like the most beautiful person in the world. When you think of them the feelings you get are positive.

If you break up with the same person in a few months, your memories of them will be very different. The same memories which resulted in a good mood will now result in a bad mood. It works the other way around too. When we are in a good mood our memories seem better. The same memory can seem worse if our mood is worse.

Thus, UX designers need to set the right mood. You need to pick a mood that goes well with the website you are designing. If you are designing a sports website you need to make it look frenetic and active. If you are making a spa website, you need to make it look comfortable. Set the right mood and capture people’s minds.

Look at Amazon during the 2 weeks before Valentine’s Day. Instead of highlighting specific products, they are highlighting general items and situations related to Valentine’s Day. They are putting user into the right mood, they are connecting to your positive emotions. In this moment, instead of rationally thinking about your budget you are thinking about your loved one. This eliminates the discomfort you feel about going over your budget.

Priming technique 8 – Frequency illusion / Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

Have you ever noticed that once you read a new word and learn its meaning you end up seeing it used everywhere? It may be a word you have never heard before but once you read about it you start hearing it again and again. This is called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, where something appears to be happening more frequently once you learn about it.

The reason this happens is very simple – our brain works at recognizing patterns. It picks up things it deems useful and ignores the rest. The word isn’t being used more often around you – it is being used as much as it was before. However, since you have learned about it only recently it remains a fresh mark on your brain. Thus every time your brain detects the pattern it highlights it to you.

You can use this to make people think the way you want. You can really get into the heads of users with this one. Introduce your product to them by highlighting the problem it solves. Every time they encounter the problem in real life, they will now think of your solution. It may be a problem they may have never even noticed, but you talked to them about it, and now they can’t help but notice it. In UX you can do great things by introducing new iconography or symbols and employing them in similar ways again and again.

This is especially important for SaaS providers. When you are a SaaS provider you cannot list your features – you need to convince people that your product is useful. Sure, you may have terabytes of storage and an unbelievable amount of computing power, but that doesn’t excite the user or tell them how you will be useful to them.

Priming technique 9 – Empathy gap

The empathy gap refers to our inability to understand how many factors affect our decision making. Sometimes when you are in a bad mood you do things which you regret once your mood is fine. You keep thinking ‘’Why did I do that?!’’, and there is no answer. This is because your brain in a good mood cannot empathize with your brain in a bad mood, and vice versa.

This is very important in priming. You can change the way people act by priming them with the right feeling. This is why politicians give such bombastic speeches. They get the people riled up and angry and then start talking about the opposition. In a similar vein, making a person feel better will make them more compliant. So, if your UX has elements that improve the mood of a person, it will result in them being more receptive to your marketing and content. You can use mood music, you can use pictures, or even soothing colors. You can also get people riled up when it comes to sports and other such events. You can make people feel the hype simply through visual cues.

Disneyland’s website is a masterclass in this. Now, their aim is to convince people to go to Disneyland. That is only happening if the customer is in the right frame of mind. That is why their website does everything to create the right mood. They did not build a functional website that easily lets you book a Disney vacation – if we were purely logical thinkers the functionality is rather poor. The functional parts of the website, which allow you to buy tickets and make reservations are all located in a small bar.

The rest of the page is designed to overload you with Disney magic. There is a video playing right on the main page which shows you the spectacle of Disneyland. Right below it is a picture of a father with his son on his shoulders, both happy. Each and every picture makes you feel the same way – my kids will love it when I take them here. Disney knows that Disneyland vacations are fueled by parents deriving happiness from giving the joy of Disneyland to their children. This is how you prime people. You don’t give them discounts, don’t write a 1000 word essay telling them you much fun they will have. You show it to them, you make them feel that way, and you make them imagine how much their kid will love going to Disneyland.  

Priming technique 10 – Base rate fallacy

When given general information and specific information people tend to value specific information even more, even when it gives the wrong answer. Here is an easy way to think about this – there is a competition going on where you win prizes hidden inside chocolates. You know that 10% of all chocolates have prizes in them, this is the base rate. Your friend comes to you later in the day and tells you that he bought 10 chocolates and 5 out of them had prizes in them.

Now, how much of a chance do you think you have of winning a prize if you bought 10 chocolates? Even though you know the base rate, you will assume that you will get better odds like your friend did. Even in the presence of actual facts, an anecdote can change the way you think.

The base rate fallacy is a great way of dealing with any bad statistics or press. All you need to do is provide them with a slice of information which suggests otherwise. You can tell the story of a customer who had great luck with your products – better than average. You don’t mislead people at all; you tell them the actual odds, and then tell them of a customer that beat the odds. You are telling people how much a chance there is that the same will happen to them but they won’t care. They will consider the anecdote to be a better barometer of how things will turn out instead of the base rate.

 

Conclusion

Priming techniques are a good way of understanding the full breadth of your users. And while they’re not the only techniques a designer should use in his/her toolbox, priming is a meaningful way to drill down into the microlevel of what makes users tick in regards to visual communication and design.