After a bit of a break I'm working on a new side project. It is in a very competitive space and I have decided that the user experience needs to be the core USP, for it to attract the kind of crowd - and content - required to establish a presence in the market.
This has made me think once again about what makes for a good user experience. Broadly speaking, it is pretty much all about reducing friction, to help people get from A to B in the most straightforward way possible.
But is 'good' what we should all be aiming for? Why not aim a bit higher?
So what makes a great user experience? I'd say it was all of the above - a friction-free journey - as well as a smattering of pleasant surprises along the way; surprises that delight the user. They say good design is invisible, but I think that great design can leave quite an impression on people.
I'm constantly amazed by my own reaction to the little details in life. The smallest of things can have a disproportionate influence on how I perceive things, both positively and negatively. I'm a stickler for detail, and have been looking for examples of micro design, as a source of inspiration for my own project.
To this end, two sites in particular have been particularly useful: Codepen, and CSSDeck. Many of these 17 examples can be found over there, and some are very lean indeed, using just CSS to achieve the desired effects.
Ok, let's check them out...
Many news sites are struggling to make any money from this whole internet thing, so it's natural that some are looking to maximise income wherever they can.
Unfortunately, while perhaps they should be looking to ecommerce channels and elsewhere, adding more ads is the natural reaction, and this has drawbacks for the user experience.
I regularly see ad formats which should have died years ago, as they interrupt the user experience and may drive many to ad blockers, or just to abandon the site.
Here are a few examples...
75% of Londoners use tfl.gov.uk. The site gets around 8m unique users a month and each year receives 250m visits and growing (see the chart below).
So, a recently released beta version of their newly designed site is sure to generate a fair amount of user data.
I took a look around the site, to see what kind of user experience TfL (with BAE Detica and we are experience) have delivered.
I was genuinely blown away by the simplicity and usability of the government's GOV.UK website, when it relaunched last year. The new site was underpinned by 10 design principles, which the web team created to make their websites more consistent and user-friendly.
What are design principles, exactly? I rather like Henk Wijnholds' description:
Design principles describe the experience core values of a product or a service. They should be written in a short and memorable way. As a designer you should know them by heart while doing a project. Good design principles are cross-feature but specific. Therefore we should always try harder than ‘Easy-to-use’. Design principles are non-conflicting.
Many companies - especially tech firms - have their own design principles, and I thought I'd compile some of the best ones in a handy cut-out-and-keep list. I've also dropped in a few sage quotes from the great and good in the world of design and user experience.
Ecommerce accounts for around 5% of all grocery shopping in the UK and is set to be worth around £7.5bn this year.
That figure is predicted to grow to just over £11bn by 2016, so it’s certainly a market that’s worthy of attention.
I only recently made my first online grocery order and wasn’t particularly enamoured with the user experience, so thought I’d trial the checkouts of the three big supermarkets – Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda – plus online-only retailer Ocado.
The mobile web is still a relatively new and rapidly developing medium, but that doesn’t excuse some of the awful user experience issues we’re exposed to on a daily basis.
My job requires me to spend a lot of time browsing mobile sites so I am probably exposed to these problems more than the average consumer. That doesn’t make them any less annoying though.
So to try and raise awareness of these UX crimes and I’ve compiled a list of 12 problems that I’d love to see the back of.
Let me know of any I've missed off in the comments section.
In the competitive world of online car insurance Aviva and More Than offer the best overall user experience, according to a new report from Qubit.
Using a customised tool that scored 10 of the UK’s biggest insurers out of 100%, the two top performers both scored 76% while Admiral was the worst performer with an overall total of 59%.
Qubit’s ‘Find, Choose, Buy’ framework divides the user journey into three stages. ‘Find’ evaluates the customer search, as well as the possible alternatives on offer; the ‘Choose’ stage analyses information available, particularly on the search results and the product page, helping the customer to select the product.
The ‘Buy’ section then examines the checkout process where the customer completes the online transaction.
Ian Walker is Head of User Experience at Stanley International Betting, a sports betting company based in Liverpool. Here he explains what a typical day in his working life looks like.
There are a range of user experience jobs on Econsultancy's digital jobs board. Do check them out if you're looking for a new challenge.
A new report investigating consumer opinions of mobile commerce has found that there is still a perception that the mobile web offers a poor user experience.
More than a third (37%) of respondents in the EPiServer survey agreed that many mobile websites are difficult to navigate, an increase from 32% in 2011.
The survey also found that consumers are increasingly unforgiving of mobile sites and apps that aren’t up to scratch.
Almost half of respondents (47%) claim that if an app is hard to use they will stop using or delete it compared to 41% in the previous survey.
People apparently have slightly more patience with mobile sites, although 38% still said that they would stop using a mobile site that is difficult to use.
While Slideshare presentations can be light on words, many of the most important UX principles still come across through the visuals alone.
Here are some favourites from our internal staff and expert network...