The Von Restorff Effect in UX Design

How do you create UX designs that stand out? For example, how can you improve the user's experience by simply changing the color or shape of an item? 

The Von Restorff Effect theory is that people are more likely to remember the outlying thing when presented with a list of similar items that includes one unique, isolated item. 

"If all but one item of a list are similar in some dimension, memory for the different item will be enhanced. The modern theory of the...effect emphasizes perceptual salience and accompanying differential attention to the isolated item as necessary for enhanced memory...Distinctiveness is a useful description of the effects of differences" - R. Reed Hunt.

The theory emerged from a study undertaken by the German pediatrician and psychiatrist Hedwig von Restorff, after whom the idea is named. It has since become a guiding principle for designers in many lines of work. 

The Von Restorff Effect is also called the "Isolation Effect." The effect is easily illustrated and can be found throughout our everyday lives. 

Look at the six circles: Which one is most memorable? 

Is it the five black circles or the one red circle that sticks in your mind? This is how simple the Von Restorff Theory is. In this example, the red circle is more memorable because it is distinct from the five black circles. There are five homogenous stimuli and one different stimulus. This theory can be used to enhance UI and UX design. Simple changes that create distinct elements within a design effectively transform user experiences. 

Memorable Design Aspects

Color is not the only aspect of design that can create something distinctive. You can alter designs in many ways to illustrate the Von Restorff Effect. Other design aspects include: 

● Shape

● Size

● Spacing

● Highlighting 

● Making bold or italic

● Underlining 

All UX designers should be aware of how these design aspects can impact the way users experience their designs. For example, how can you use the Von Restorff Effect to improve the experience if you design an app or web page? Maybe it's about making certain buttons or clickable options of different colors or sizes to emphasize their importance. Often the simpler, the better. Users will evaluate elements differently depending on whether they are isolated or placed next to an alternative. For example, as a designer, you can make one choice look more attractive by placing it next to an option that is bland and not distinct in any way. 

Usage

Many of us are visual beings and visual learners. Using the Von Restorff Effect to highlight important information amongst a group of similar information is a critical visual tool to improve UX. It can relieve the stress of sifting through multiple visual communication pieces to find the most relevant detail. For online retailers and e-commerce businesses, the Von Restorff Effect can be used to highlight discounts or changes in price. Below we've highlighted some real-time examples to illustrate how the Von Restorff Effect functions. 

Kissflow Pricing Page

In this example above of Kissflow's Pricing Page, the use of the 'Border Color' and 'Most Popular' tags distinguishes the 'Advanced' plan from the other three. This shows how you can draw the user's eye with a distinctive design. 

Myntra Product Listing Page

Equally, in this example from Myntra's Product Listing Page, our eyes are naturally drawn towards the "Trending" tag. This is because a small tag can considerably boost the sales of that product.

Interaction Design Foundation-Home Page

In this example above from Interaction Design Foundation's Home Page, by looking at the completed circle and it's color (red), it is evident that the first course is closed for enrollment. Simple design choices like this show how subtle and impactful the Von Restorff Effect can be. 

MacBook Menu Bar

Similarly, take a look at this MacBook Menu Bar. Again, the user can clearly distinguish which app requires their immediate attention. Furthermore, the bright red notification circle ensures that the messaging app receives the most attention. While the Von Restorff Effect has broad applicability, designers should also avoid overusing it. Too many distinguishing elements can cause users to become distracted and make your design feel cluttered. On the other hand, nothing will grab the users' attention if too much goes on. The essence of the Isolation Effect is about standing out. 

Standing Out 

Ultimately the Von Restorff Effect is about being distinctive and standing out from the crowd. This is harder than it seems in a design world where everyone is trying to create something new and unique. However, distinctiveness can be as subtle as it is about bright, eye-catching designs. If you are designing a product or service, a web page, or an app, the Von Restorff Effect can be a valuable guide to ensure that you are creating a distinctive and memorable design. 

At Radiant, we understand the value of being distinctive in a digital world. As we help businesses navigate the journey to a digital enterprise, we aim to create innovative and unique solutions. In the world of UX, particularly those who appreciate the Von Restorff Effect, we will create engaging and memorable interactions. 

To learn more about the Von Restorff Effect and UX Design, contact our UX experts. 


The Reciprocal Relationship between Management and Learning

Employee learning opportunities can be crucial in retaining employees at your organization, but whose responsibility facilitates said learning? Of course, your whole organization must take some responsibility for ensuring adequate training. You may also find some employees are self-starters. However, the driving force behind learning development must be management, those on the frontline providing employees with real opportunities to progress and develop their careers. Managers are best situated to assess their employees’ learning needs, act upon their findings, and give each employee the tools they need to grow.

Research conducted by Degreed and Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning found that only 40% of workers agreed that their manager helps them understand what skills they need to advance. Just 17% said their managers help to set goals for developing skills. Employees want to grow through learning and enjoy their managers supporting them, but they have a disconnect. While managers may not be directly responsible for learning program development, evidence from S. Meyer’s research: Are managers important to workplace learning? states: “While managers may not deliver learning content, they can play a critical role in revisiting and reinforcing that content. A recent analysis of the available research found that, yes, managers are critical to the success of workplace training – specifically because they are in a unique position to coach their employees throughout the learning process”. Therefore, it is essential to understand how management is optimal for facilitating learning. It is also necessary to examine the underlying theories supporting the assertation that management’s involvement in employee learning produces actionable results.

Connecting Management Involvement to Learning Outcomes

Various studies support the theory that management involvement can directly lead to effective learning. The first to consider is the job-demand-control-support (JDCS) model. Do workers respond differently to learning from supervisors and colleagues? A study of job resources, discovering sources, and employee wellbeing in China published in The International Journal of Human Resource Management highlights our understanding of how employees benefit from learning from their supervisors. The study looks specifically at social support and training and finds that a high level of work-based social support means employees can depend on their supervisors and peers. This, in turn, means they can gain information and knowledge from them. Furthermore, the study found that social support was positively related to learning from supervisors and colleagues, while job training was more positively associated with learning from supervisors. 

The second critical underlying theory is the Pygmalion Effect (Livingston, 1969; Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968). This well-known theory suggests that leader expectations can affect employee learning behaviors. The 2009 paper, Pygmalion and Employee Learning: The Role of Leader Behaviors, published in the Journal of Management, explained how managers could stimulate engagement in learning. In the same way, the early Pygmalion Effect study by Rosenthal and Jacobson found students would perform at superior levels if expectations were higher. Organizations can see the same in their employees. With managers demanding high work-based learning and a career development focus, employees are more driven to succeed.

Management’s Role in Facilitating Learning

Understanding why managers are integral to employee learning is a great starting point, but this theory must be put into action. Managers need to be proactive in their approach to employee learning. There are several practical ways to achieve this.

Adopt a Coaching Mindset

Adopting a coach’s mindset helps position management as supporting employees’ opportunities to learn. Ellinger & Bostrom’s research found learning within your organization can be enhanced through coaching behaviors in its leaders. Additional study in The Impact of Managerial Coaching on Learning Outcomes Within the Team Context: An Analysis from Hagen & Gavrilova further asserts that a significant improvement in learning occurs within teams with a “coaching” team leader. Positioning managers as coaches helps to promote learning and an organizational ethos. 

Assess Individual’s Learning Needs

Your employees have their strengths and weaknesses. Helping them build skills in relevant areas falls within management’s role. First, understand and identify what training and skill development employees may need to carry out their roles effectively. This means assessing areas where your employees excel and where training could help. This also allows managers to see the whole picture and recognize the direct benefits of training programs to suit each employee. 

Provide On-the-Job Learning Opportunities

Active learning has become crucial to many businesses’ training programs. For example, a 1997 study conducted by Sveilby found that learners only remember under 10% of what they have heard in a lecture after five days. However, when the activities involved seeing and hearing, this increased to 20%. Most crucially, 60-70% of what they practiced was remembered when learners learned by doing it themselves. On-the-job experience and the opportunity to practically employ new skills are essential for employee learning to succeed, which only managers can directly provide.

Focus on Feedback and Communication

To understand your employee’s training needs, you need to have a clear view of their work performance, skills gaps, and growth potential. Gallup research found employees who receive daily feedback from their manager are three times more likely to be engaged than those who receive feedback once a year. Open communication channels make the feedback process easier to manage and less formal. It helps your employees feel able to discuss things more efficiently. As mentioned in Harvard Business Review by executive coach Monique Valcour Ph.D., regular career conversations help your employees refine their career goals. Once they understand their goals more clearly, it is easier to discuss training opportunities. 

Why should Managers care about Employee Learning?

Employee learning is one of the most powerful tools you have to boost your business and develop its growth internally. Maximizing employee potential can only benefit your organization and create a loyal and committed workforce—managers who show commitment to employee learning foster more significant and more effective relationships with their staff. In addition, a learning culture shows it is a business priority, and it is much easier to get employees on board.

For your managers to create this culture of learning and push their employees to be their best, they need the skillset. Here at Radiant Digital, we specialize in the training of all kinds. We can help develop training focused on growing coaching mindsets within your management team. In addition, we can work with you to design, develop, and implement management learning programs to ensure your managers are perfectly positioned to encourage employee learning. Contact us today to learn more.


Why is User Experience Important to Branding?

User Experience (UX) is about how your customers will interact with your brand. It is a vital part of your customer’s journey, and the effectiveness of the UX will, more often than not, decide whether they want to keep interacting with your brand in the future. But, when creating and refining your brand, where does user experience fit in? This post will highlight why user experience is essential to branding and how success can be achieved by recognizing the link between UX and Brand. 

A lesson from Blackbeard

You may never have heard the name Edward Teach. But we’re sure you’ve heard the name, Blackbeard. Edward Teach, the infamous pirate better known as ‘Blackbeard,’ knew how to create an enduring impression. As a result, he was feared on the open sea because of his actions, reputation, and image. 

He struck an imposing figure dressed all in black, strapped up with pistols with smoke issuing from his hat from lit fuses as he stood on the deck of a ship bearing the famous skull-and-crossbones flag. His image endured because he understood the importance of branding. 

Brand in the age of digital experience

Branding has been around for thousands of years. Since we first started buying and selling goods, image and reputation have been significant. In the digital age, the meaning of brand has evolved. Consumers now have more touchpoints with brands than evermore. They also have a more excellent selection of products to choose from. Today a brand is more than an image or a logo. It is about the customers’ complete experience, shaped by interaction design. 

Dirk Knemeyer, the social futurist and founder of Involution Studios, once wrote that “Brand represents the intellectual and emotional associations that people make with a company, product, or person [and]...Brand experience is the strategic approach to compelling people to take productive action through the integrated, coordinated planning and execution of every possible interaction that they have with your company or products”.

A brand can be used to influence choice. And, as more companies adapt to the digital world, branding has evolved from simple messages into an all-encompassing experience. 

Components of brands: actions, tone, and visuals

The way a company looks talks and behaves all contribute to the way its brand is seen in the eyes of consumers. Today we experience brands not only through logos and press releases but through actions, tone, and visuals. 

Actions: 

Is the company keeping up with the times? Do they reflect their customer’s values? For example, what are they doing to combat climate change? These are the sorts of questions that are asked by consumers in the digital world today. As a result, the actions of businesses in certain situations will contribute to how their brand is perceived. 

Tone:

The tone is about how your brand communicates. This can include everything from the text on your website to your marketing campaigns or the way your staff speaks to customers. 

Visuals:  

Visuals are the traditional elements of branding. This is about how the logo, the typeface, the videos, the social media marketing, and other graphic elements form together to portray the brand. 

The role of brand values, design, and visual content 

Brand values serve as a foundational element for UX. All ideas for design should spring from a solid understanding of what your brand is, what your brand aims to accomplish, and your customers’ needs. Brand values feed UX, and in turn, UX shapes and define how the brand is seen and interacted with by customers. A visual identity is formed when several visual elements come together to help a business convey its brand message. This can refer to essential design elements like logos, colors, layouts, and typography but can also encompass infographics, images, marketing videos, and social media content. When users become accustomed to your visual identity through these features, their level of trust and engagement will increase.

Even if you have a strong brand identity, all design and visual content elements must enhance the user experience. Therefore, designers and marketers should work in tandem to create a visual identity for the company that is aligned with the brand identity and engaging for target customers. 

The role of brand values in user-centered design

Solid and well-defined brand values will help companies create a distinctive user-centered design. In turn, sophisticated user-centered design can also result in a framework that helps to emphasize the merits of your brand and draw more users in. At every stage of the user’s journey, brand values can be a powerful tool to improve the experience. Through user-centered design, companies can create a user experience appropriate to their customer base, which can positively reinforce their customers’ brand experience.

Connecting user experience and brand experience

Ultimately to succeed, businesses must bridge the gap between brand promises and the actual user experience that customers have. In a digital world, there are more ways than ever before to align Brand and UX to ensure that interactions are authentic, valuable, and lasting. 

Here are some tried and tested tips to keep in mind. 

● Define your objectives and brand purpose

Communicate key objectives throughout your organization so that everyone who contributes to your brand’s perception knows what the company is hoping to achieve and why. 

● Understand your customers

The user experience should match and exceed customer expectations. The best way to achieve this is by collecting and analyzing user data and feedback. This valuable information should help guide your design choices and help you create an experience that sticks with your customers. If more companies can tap into the connection between UX and branding, we may begin to see more exciting and enduring brands emerge worldwide. 

Conclusion

Why is user experience necessary to branding? Learn how the brand has evolved in the age of digital experience and how businesses can succeed by connecting UX and brand experience. 

 


Understanding Emotional Design

“Everything has a personality: everything sends an emotional signal. So even where this was not the designer's intention, the people who view the website infer personalities and experience emotions.”

— Don Norman, Grand Old Man of User Experience

What role does emotion play in design? Why are we attracted to some designs and not others? How do we experience everyday products, and how can our experiences be improved? These are the kinds of questions Don Norman, director of The Design Lab at the University of California, asked when he first came up with the idea of “Emotional Design.” He was trying to understand the cognitive responses we have when we design and how we can learn to design emotional interfaces that anticipate and accommodate users’ needs. It’s a fascinating concept that deserves a bit of exploration.

What is Emotional Design?

Emotional design is the concept of creating designs that evoke emotions that cause positive user experiences. In 2003, leading researcher and design expert Don Norman published a book titled ‘Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things. The book explored the concept of designers creating products, brands, and other things which aim to reach users on three cognitive levels:

  1. The Visceral
  2. The Behavioural 
  3. The Reflective.

Professor Norman was enamored with the idea that everything and anything sends an emotional signal. Therefore designers should go about their work to reach users on these three cognitive levels if they want users to develop positive associations with their product, brand, or design.

 

When you design, it is essential to address all three levels of cognitive response:

  • Visceral - This level is about the users’ gut reaction or first impression of your design. It is a pivotal moment and will often decide whether the product or service is even worth engaging with. These designers must focus on producing clean, uncluttered designs that are easy to use and understand.
  • Behavioral- How will your design help the user achieve their goals? This cognitive response is about the users’ level of satisfaction and whether they feel in control.
  • Reflective - Once the user has become acquainted with the design, they will judge its performance and the benefits, including whether it is good value for money. Are they happy with the design? Will they keep using it? Will they recommend it to friends? This is where you can tell whether or not the user has formed an emotional bond with your design.

How can we Design Emotional Interfaces? 

The next step is to start creating. The concept of emotional design can apply to a wide variety of products, services, and brands. As a result, the process of implementing this concept will differ from one design to another.

The first step in many workflows should be learning as much as you can about your audience, user, or customer. After all, it is their emotions that you are aiming to anticipate and accommodate for. Once you have some idea about the user, you can start to experiment: this is the fun part.

Here are a few things to consider when applying emotional design to your creative process:

  • Personalize- ensure that your designs are as tailored as possible to your potential users. This should help to engage all three levels of cognitive response and help them form a bond.
  • Customize- Keep updating your design to make sure that it is as relevant and necessary as whatever else is currently on the market. Users will quickly move on to something else if your design becomes obsolete.
  • Focus on the details- to make the most of the Behavioral and Reflective levels, and designs should be refined and polished. This is the best way to remove mistakes and bugs and help users feel comfortable with your product or service.
  • Tell a story- If you can, try to include some sort of story in your design. Stories are the way to the heart and help to build empathy. For a simple product, this may not be easy. However, if you are designing a service or a website or the look and feel of a brand, storytelling is a great way to connect on an emotional level.

“Positive experiences drive curiosity. They help motivate us to grow as individuals. [and] the fact is that the emotional design of a product or service affects its success—and thus the bottom line.” (InteractionDesign) Therefore, knowing how to harness this information about the emotional connection is essential to help inform the designs we create daily.

The three levels or aspects of the emotional system are interlinked. Each can be stimulated in different ways, but all contribute to how we experience and respond to designs. Professor Norman’s concept of Emotional Design is a valuable way to understand and refine the creative process and should aid in creating innovative designs.

How do you create designs that connect with users? Learn about the concept of Emotional Design and how it can be used to anticipate and accommodate the needs and responses of your users. Then, get in touch with our UX experts to learn more about emotional design and how our design process works here at Radiant. 

 


Occam's Razor: The Simplest Solution for Designers

Most product and UI/UX designers will tell you that they've caught themselves getting carried away with introducing design elements they assume will enhance a product's user experience. But, on the other hand, the effect was that these only caused distraction or confusion no matter how aesthetically appealing. In these moments, designers can remind themselves of a guiding principle to simplify the complicated — the Occam's Razor. The Occam's Razor is a mental model that states that the simplest explanation is preferable to those that are more complex. Among designers, this has meant that when confronted with competing designs that have the same function, select the simplest one. In evaluating your designs, remove as many elements as possible without compromising the intended functions.

Origin of the Occam's Razor Principle

Occam's Razor, also known as the principle of parsimony, is attributed to William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), an English Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopher, logician, and theologian during the medieval period. While this principle didn't originate from Ockham, it's heavily associated with him due to his frequent and effective use of the philosophical Razor in axioms in his written body of work such as, "Plurality must never be posited without necessity".

The philosophical Razor refers to shaving away unnecessary assumptions or cutting apart two similar conclusions. Occam's Razor is essentially a problem-solving principle that, when presented with competing hypothetical answers to a problem, one should select the one that makes the fewest assumptions. This is further reinforced in his writings on the principle of economy wherein he says, "It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer." Occam's Razor has since been applied in many scientific fields, including biology, medicine, probability theory, and statistics.

How To Use Occam's Razor in Design

Businesses and organizations often feel the urge to put every bit of information online to cover every need that every user may require. However, design and product teams can filter out the noise and focus on what matters most for a significant share of their users with sufficient user research.  At the same time, with the capabilities that web and design tools now offer, designers and managers can get carried away into showing off how forward-thinking or design-savvy their companies are. At the heart of applying Occam's Razor is being ruthless about removing the unnecessary for being effective. Here are the key points in how to use Occam's Razor in UI, UX, and product design.

Design Only What's Necessary

In applying Occam's Razor, designers must evaluate each design element based on necessity. Following this principle requires a minimal user interface (UI) that still allows users to meet their objectives. By introducing animations, additional menu options, or certain navigation tricks, designers must pause and assess whether these are necessary to the user experience or unnecessarily complicate the user journey. For instance, designers can deploy heuristic evaluation, a detailed assessment of a product's UI to surface usability issues, and identify ways to resolve them based on severity.

While the application of Occam Razor in the design process is more associated with the refinement phase — the shaving away of unnecessary clutter — the best approach is avoiding it in the first place. Instead, begin designing for the simplest version of a digital product and introduce additional elements only if it enhances the user experience.

Refine by Trimming the Excess

Designers or their managers need to be ruthless in trimming down their work. Design elements that don't provide value should be removed altogether. Every aspect of the work should be evaluated based on purpose, importance, or necessity. If a more straightforward solution exists, then that version should prevail. Design critique sessions are an effective way to generate feedback from your colleagues. These will force you to articulate your design choices and surface design elements that might not be as effective you initially thought. As the French author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, said, "Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Guide Questions

Here are some questions that designers can ask themselves as they create and refine their work.

  • Is it easy for users to find the information they want?
  • Does the product, app, or website present too many choices?
  • Is every piece of information at the top (e.g., menu options, headers, search, log-in) necessary?
  • Are the copies or texts in plain language?
  • Is there any unnecessarily distracting design element?
  • Can seniors or older users meet their objectives?
  • Can I remove anything else but still keep its functions without sacrificing user experience?

Popular Examples of Simple UX

Let's take a look at some widely known examples of how Occam's Razor principles of simplicity, necessity, or economy have been applied in digital products.

Google Search

The most widely used search engine, Google, directs user attention to its primary function: search.


PayPal

Paypal redesigned its website in 2014, which was overly complex before that. Since then, Paypal has continuously simplified its website and mobile app experience.

Zara

Compared to most online stores of fashion retailers, Zara plays it simple with one photo on a white background and texts and icons in black.

 

Shaving off the clutter

Designers can sometimes be drawn into a fantastic idea without stepping back and asking if it's essential to what users want to achieve. Occam's Razor is a compelling reminder for designers when they create and refine their work. When inspired by several excellent ideas, choose the simplest one. Think of the simplicity that Steve Jobs embraced for Apple products at the onset. The earliest designs of the Macintosh and iPod still have a presence in today's iPhone, iPad, and Mac. For instance, the single button on the front of their mobile devices remains integral to the simplicity of their design and the Apple brand as a whole.

Will you be working on a project that requires simplifying user interfaces and experiences? Reach out to our experts at Radiant Digital to learn more about our product design and development processes.


The Ideal UX Process: UX Strategy vs UX Design

The role of user experience (UX) designers continues to broaden and encompass more responsibilities. There is often, therefore, a pressing need for UX strategies that provide well-defined goals, a logical roadmap, and helpful guidelines. So what comprises the ideal UX strategy? And how do the stages of UX strategy and UX design compare? First, let's take a brief look at how a typical UX process works and how strategy and design deliver a great final product. 

What is the UX process? 

The UX process is a collection of stages that any product, software, service, website, or app has to be ready and optimized for the end-user. The process can encompass everything from interface design to usability testing and can take a couple of weeks to a couple of years. Often the UX process will flow from one stage to another, e.g., from Research to Strategy to Design to Testing. Each step will help create, measure, and refine the user experience to ensure it is standard. 

What is UX design? 

UX design is the stage where the design team creates software, products, or services that provide users with a great experience. The design team aims to create something relevant and necessary that stands above the designs of their competitors. UX design will involve consideration of many aspects, including branding, function, usability, integration, and, most obviously, design. 

What is UX strategy? 

A UX strategy is a plan that sets how the UX team intends to refine and tailor the user's experience to ensure a satisfying outcome in line with the company's overall goals and objectives. UX strategy will usually occur after the research for the product, service, website, app, or software has been completed, but the designs have been built. The difference between UX design and UX strategy is their time during the UX process, the personnel used, and the objectives. The design stage becomes easier when you have a detailed and well-planned UX strategy.

When creating a UX strategy, team members will brainstorm, produce customer journey maps, develop wireframes, high-fidelity mockups, and conceptualize the user flow. A successful UX strategy will be the result of a combination of Human Elements (stakeholders, developers, engineers, and designers), Informational Elements (data, customer feedback, user interviews, and competitor research), and Desired Outcomes (design criteria, features, success metrics, and functionality).

What UX tools can you use to define UX strategy? 

Once you have an idea of how you want to pursue your UX strategy, you have to decide which tools you need to accomplish your tasks. Here is a list of the most common UX tools that can all be used to define a business-facing UX strategy:

Stakeholder interviews 

This can be the key to understanding everyone's needs. Stakeholder interviews allow you to determine the project's goals and consider all the relevant factors. 

User interviews

 User interviews will allow you to appreciate the impact of the user experience and enable teams to strategize in a way that considers a variety of users. You can follow an evaluative approach or inferential approach, and both will bring you one step close to understanding your user. 

Prototyping tools 

Prototyping tools will help clarify the UX requirements and maximize your UX process's design potential. These tools will help you delve into the details and emerge with a well-thought-through UX. 

Competitive analysis tool

Understand your competitor. A comprehensive competitive analysis tool that looks at your rival's products, websites, and software will ensure that you can gain a competitive edge. 

Google's HEART framework

This is a sophisticated tool for understanding and improving the UX of any product. HEART stands for Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention, and Task Success. This helps teams approach UX from several angles and provides designers with several useful metrics for success. It has helped Google succeed, and many other companies will also benefit from implementing the framework. 

Sector expert interviews

 Gather as much relevant information from experts as possible. This is particularly helpful if designing a product, service, or software for an unfamiliar industry. 

Concept maps

 Visualize the UX team's models during the design process. Concept maps are a simple tool that can be relied on even when dealing with complex technical phases. These tools can form part of the UX process and help define a comprehensive UX strategy. Of course, the ideal UX process will differ from one company to the next, but using these kinds of tools will be expected throughout various successful UX teams. 

How do you create the ideal UX Process? Learn about UX strategy, why it's important, how it compares to UX Design, and the UX tools you can use to succeed. Get in touch with our UX experts to learn more about crafting the ideal UX process and how UX works at Radiant. 

 


What Is Iterative Design?

Iterative design is a design methodology based on a cyclical approach of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product at any stage of the design process. You can think of iterative design as a rapid and repetitive trial-and-error process intended to deliver a product that meets user goals and expectations. How users say they behave with a digital product versus how they behave is rarely the same. The iterative design recognizes this by laying a framework for product teams to develop a prototype quickly and then test it with real-world users to determine what they do with the product.

When to use the iterative design?

Designers can apply an iterative approach at any stage of the product development process. Organizations can even introduce or adopt iterative design even if a product has already been shipped to market, especially if they’re looking to make improvements. However, the earlier iterative design is implemented in the product lifecycle, the more likely the product can meet user objectives and expectations. Further, it’s also more likely that the design process can be more cost-effective and achieve faster time to market.

What is a non-iterative approach?

The Waterfall model is the most common non-iterative process wherein each project phase (e.g., discovery, conceptualization, design, development, testing, launch) must be completed in its entirety before moving on to the next one. In a non-iterative approach, as in the waterfall model, teams emphasized the planning phase more than the execution process — documenting everything in advance, such as the user interface, user stories, and all features and variations. Non-iterative methods require more time during the conceptualization and creation phase, aiming for the product to work as intended during testing.

Requirements and resources are typically locked after project planning, and teams avoid project modifications as much as possible. Typically, teams design and develop a final product with the minimal exploration of new ideas along the way. Non-iterative design processes can be challenging because it doesn’t allow time and space for unknowns and surprises and the necessary adjustments to address them.

What are the benefits of iterative design?

Companies and organizations of all shapes and sizes have lauded adopting an iterative approach to their design and development processes. Here are the key benefits of iterative design:

● Efficiency: By working on products in quick sprints, teams can adjust their products in each iteration rather than rework an entire design as new insights or feedback emerge. Further, workload among team members can be spread out more evenly throughout the development lifecycle.

● Progress visibility: Iterative design gives product stakeholders visibility of a project’s progress at the end of each iteration.

Collaboration: Designers can generate feedback from clients and stakeholders based on the results from each iteration. An iterative process draws better engagement from them as they can see the evolution of the project and that the design team is meeting their requirements rather than “dumping” a finished product on them.

● Eliminates confusion: The repetitive or cyclical nature of iterative design enables rapid resolution of misunderstandings or disorders within the project team as early as possible. Further, teams can detect flaws in the design, architecture, code, and other implementations with each iteration, severely impacting the product if left undetected.

● Ability to work in parallel: Unlike non-iterative methodologies such as the waterfall method, the iterative process decreases dependence on the work that comes in previous phases. Team members can work on several parts of a project in parallel, leading to faster time to market.

● Usability: Iterative design keeps users at the heart of the process, with each iteration ideally based on user research, behavior, and feedback. For instance, testing and debugging in smaller or faster iterations can identify defects or flaws early in the design process, with target users providing insight in each iteration.

● Continuous improvement: Each iteration enables design teams to incorporate lessons learned from previous runs giving the final product the best chance to meet customer expectations.

● Cost-effective: Changes arising from an iterative approach are likely to be less costly than in a Waterfall approach. Since modifications are common in product development, discovering them at the earliest possible stage makes it easier for organizations to adjust their resources.

Examples of iterative design

Here are some familiar examples of iterative design:

● Iteration during product development: Engineering teams apply an iterative approach in developing new features, implementing bug fixes, and A/B testing new strategies. It’s not uncommon for engineering teams to create a few promising versions, then test them out with users. They’ll note good and bad user experiences and then continue building the iteration that tested the best.

● Wikis: With user-generated content, anyone can write new entries or improve existing ones. Reviewers or editors then decide whether new content passes specific standards or whether the changes made improve the content. Users expect this iteration system in sites like Wikipedia to present the best available information on any given topic over time.

● Urban design: Urban designers see 10-year plans made by local governments as strategies and principles. Urban designers execute new ideas at a small scale and gather feedback before expanding their programs for implementation. For instance, they may try a living street design for one year before scaling them either at the exact location or in another area.

Good design requires iteration.

Iterative design enables product designers to build and test products quickly. As a result, features and functionalities that resonate with users can be improved further while those can’t be soon abandoned or modified. The iterative process is an efficient design approach, which puts user experience at the heart of product development.

Will you be working on a project that can benefit from iterative design? Reach out to our experts at Radiant Digital to learn more about our product design and development process.


Design Systems: An Overview

A Design System organizes various disparate components to enable a team to design, realize, and develop a product. The elements of this design system can be used and reused to build a wide range of products and help facilitate designers' skills and expertise. However, when choosing a design system, there are many elements to consider. And while many believe design systems are critical, some within the industry are divided on their use. 

Below we've highlighted the pros and cons of using design systems and attempted to overview how design systems work in the real world. 

What is a Design System? 

Essentially, a design system is a collection of elements that can build a product or service, or piece of software. A design system can evolve and adapt to meet new requirements while providing designers with useful UI and UX pieces to serve as building blocks for the finished product. Equally, a design system can guide designers' design process from creation to implementation to delivery. 

Benefits of Using a Design System

  • Brand Recognition: A design system that includes a collection of parts that reflect the company's values helps to maintain brand recognition. In addition, designers and developers can use these assets and components to create instantly recognizable designs and connect to the company. Design systems may also provide designers with a standardized set of colors, shapes, and typography that can serve as the essential building blocks of their creations. 
  • Saves Time: A comprehensive Design system allows teams to free up design resources and save time. In addition, design teams can use the components to structure and alter their products, software, pages, and apps. As a result, design teams don't need to spend so much time creating assets from scratch, and with this extra free time, they can work on more complex and vital design issues. Ultimately, this will result in a better user experience. 
  • Enables Design to Scale: As well as saving time, design systems improve the scalability of design teams and their designs. Team members will have to spend less time styling everything from the ground up and will be able to focus on maximizing the potential of existing components. Some design systems will also provide a roadmap. This level of guidance will help designers and developers anticipate their needs as they scale, hopefully making the whole process easier. 
  • Developers and Designers Have a Common Language: Design systems give developers and designers a common visual language to use. As a result, design hand-offs are a lot easier because they will appreciate the bigger picture and understand how one component fits into the creation of the whole design. In addition, communication is an integral part of any design process, and design systems are usually a reliable way to improve collaboration within teams and across departments. 
  • More accessible to Onboard New Developers or Designers: Design systems ensure that you gather the essential and relevant information in one place. For example, if you need to onboard new designers or developers, a design system can smoothly help the process. System onboarding can be quick and more effective with all the relevant information included in the design. 

Drawbacks of Using a Design System

There are quite a few pros to having a design system, but it is also essential to consider the downsides. 

  • Resource Intensive: One of the most glaring drawbacks to creating a design system that serves its purpose is a resource-intensive process. You can invest quite a lot of design and development resources into a design system before receiving any tangible progress.  This investment is usually worth it in the long run, but if you have a small team or low resources or need to create something quickly, a design system can be a hindrance rather than a helpful tool. 
  • Educating Developers and Designers: It may be challenging to get all your designers and developers to use a design system. Many of them will have been completing projects without a design system. Therefore, it can take some time to educate everyone. For some companies and teams, this may involve a cultural shift and a level of patience. 

Understanding Design Systems  

The purpose of a design system is to facilitate the team's work. Therefore, design systems are often created in collaboration with an entire product team. Ideally, this means that developers, designers, product managers, programmers, and engineers will all say how a design system looks and feels. This is important as it is a system that hopefully aids everyone's progress regardless of their place within the team. Most design systems are based on a standard setup. So first, there will be top-level navigation showing the main system categories, including Design, Code, Components, Branding, etc. Then within these main categories, there will be sub-navigation levels that include Typography, Color, Components, Forms, Guidelines, etc. 

Ultimately, when design systems are used properly, they should serve as a single source of truth for the design team and ensure that everyone who works on the product or project is always on the same page. In addition, they help to emphasize design principles, different brand identity, and language and provide all team members with the components and tools they need to succeed. 

Want to learn more about design systems? Feel free to contact our design experts here at Radiant. 


Constructive Criticism - How it helps Designers to Attain Better Solutions

There are many ways designers can give and receive criticism. However, to ensure that this criticism is a help rather than a hindrance, we need to understand how constructive criticism works in the UX design field.

 Criticism is inevitable. It doesn't matter what industry you are in; criticism will form part of your career path. However, it can be a double-edged sword. Listening too much to criticism can negatively impact your thought process and actions. But, equally, not taking in any criticism may prove detrimental, and you may not be able to evolve as a designer. Therefore, it is essential to understand the positive aspects of criticism and how to use it to inform your work. Furthermore, listening to constructive criticism will often result in a more robust project that fulfills all clients' requests.

 Constructive criticism helps:

  • By increasing the collaborative spirit within design teams
  • By allowing individual designers to grow and learn from other experts
  • By enabling designers to gain some perspective and distance themselves from their work
  • By creating greater empathy for other designers and the potential users of the designs

 Let's look at how you can receive and provide criticism successfully in the world of design.

The Art of Receiving Criticism

There is always more to learn. Even when you're happy with a design, there will be ways to iterate and improve. Taking and constructively using criticism you know as you gain more experience as a designer. At the beginning of your career, it may be difficult to take criticism, and you may respond negatively. This is usually because beginners lack confidence. However, receiving criticism allows you to evolve as a designer and incorporate the expertise of others into your designs.

 Some things to remember when receiving constructive criticism: 

  • Collaboration means compromise: When designing a product, service, or software, it would be best to compromise, especially when working within a design team. Often, you will learn from the insights and critiques of other experienced designers.
  • Keep your response positive: A positive frame of mind is key to receiving criticism. Every interaction should be geared towards creating the best possible design.
  • The client is correct: Sometimes, you must accept that they know what they are talking about. In the end, they will decide whether your design is a success. Listen to them, and you'll be able to hit your targets.
  • Gain some perspective: Your work is not an extension of you. A criticism of your design work is not an implicit criticism of you or your overall design knowledge/style. If the person giving the criticism is well-intentioned, their words will be constructive and solely focused on improving the product.

 

Providing Constructive Criticism 

As well as receiving criticism, there will be times in your design career when you will have to give criticism. You may have learned how to do this at school. Now it's time to take those learnings and apply them to a professional design environment. Critiquing other people's work will help you realize the flaws and merits of your work. Additionally, by providing constructive criticism, you will encourage other designers and help improve their designs.

 Some things to remember when providing criticism: 

  • Maintain a professional and friendly tone: The way you provide the criticism is almost as important as the criticism itself. Remember to be uplifting rather than harsh. Co-workers will more readily accept your criticisms if they know that your thoughts are well-intentioned.
  • Only provide criticism when asked or when it seems necessary: Don't be annoying with your critiques. But, on the other hand, they shouldn't be incessant and should hopefully be given only when necessary or when the designer asks for help.
  • Emphasize the positives: Constructive criticism should not be harmful. Instead, make sure to highlight the positive attributes of the design and carefully describe points where the design could be improved.

Becoming better designers

 Design can be both a collaborative and individual process. Learning the value of constructive criticism will help you excel in your design efforts, making you a better team member. The art of receiving criticism will take some time to master, but it will invariably result in you taking a closer and more productive look at your work. Similarly, providing constructive criticism will improve your analytical and evaluative skills. Ultimately, understanding the role of criticism in the design process will help you attain better solutions in your future projects.

Want to know how you can attain better solutions? Learn how receiving and providing constructive criticism can help make you and your peers better designers here at Radiant Digital.